Monday, October 3, 2011

Chanel No.5 Bath Oil: Inspiring the Aspirational & History of No.5 Bath Oils

When the times are tough a little pampering goes a long way. But it also proves to be a wise marketing strategy with a purpose. French fashion house Chanel is enticing online purchasing and emphasizing its exclusivity with a limited-edition Chanel No. 5 Bath Oil and limited-time free shipping on its Web site. Chanel is no stranger to upping the aspirational factor, or even obscuring a few of the less than nice aspects of its history, in order to create buzz. In Tilar Mazeo's book these are plenty evident.

But today's world rolls on word of pixel, rather than just word of mouth ~or even aesthetically glorious advertising. Indeed the new bath product is advertised by just its bottle, with newsletters announcing it in bold typeface of white on black background. Very Chanel!

This current strategy has even inspired Luxury Daily to comment that "Chanel may be aiming for younger consumers by connecting with them on a channel where they usually are found. The brand could also be trying to connect with consumers who may not be able to afford luxury products now, but may be able to in the future. The younger aspirational consumer is a market that many luxury brands are trying to hit, most notably through online marketing".

“With the introduction of the No. 5 essential bath oils and all the hype around the product being labeled ‘heavenly’ by fashionistas everywhere, this is a great way to get a younger demographic onto the Chanel ecommerce site,” according to Tania Doub, retail strategy lead for Optaros, Boston, as quoted by the journalist.

For those who are wondering about the new formulation of the iconic Chanel No.5 feedback is positive. Chanel is no stranger to luxurious and silky body products. Indeed it was some years ago at the advent of the millenium when they last issued a specific  bath oil with the tag Chanel No.5 Huiles Essentiels pour Le Bain (Technically not 100% accurate; this was a three-phase product with segments floating on on top of the other which you had to shake in order to mix and pour, as you can see on the picture on the right. It made for fantastic displays on bathroom shelves, I can tell you! Plus it smelled like a softer, still musky, but much less aldehydic version of the scent of No.5, which is enticing enough for both those who can't stomach the aldehydic load and those who just flat out love the classic fragrance).
Chanel also produced a regular Bath Oil in the No.5 line as far back as 1966, advertised with the face and body of Ali MacGraw in memorable ads circulating in the UK.

But that's not just it!

The Bath Oil was produced prior to 1966 (and the subsequent 1971 campaign) still: Older advertisements from 1963 suggest "now bathe in Chanel", with just a sketch of a young agile woman putting her hair up in order to enter a bathtub filled with foamy water containing scented bath oil.

And two years later the formula becomes an After-Bath Oil Spray, thus providing a non-alcoholic version of the iconic perfume for fans to enjoy, at a reduced price and a more practical edition.

The new Chanel No.5 Intense Bath Oil formulation follows into the steps of the older one, providing either a stand-alone fragrancing product (as suggested by its intense moniker or to accompany Eau Premiere (with which it would amorously couple) or alternatively under any of the versions of the classic Chanel No.5 for loyal fans.

vintage ads via Click to enlarge.


  1. I just got an e-mail from Chanel about the bath oil. Very rarely am I interested in getting matching bath products (if available) with my perfume. As much as I love Chanel no. 5, I'm not the type that likes to clean out bath oil residue out of my tub afterwards.

  2. Eld,

    I agree (so much goes down the drain!). But I think the Bath Oil Intense can be also used drop for drop for over the body fragrancing AFTER the bath. Not that I'm enabling! ;-)

  3. I just dropped $250 on a full bottle of Amouage Memoir for women, so the perfume budget for the next month is blown and then some. In the next month or so, I'm gunning for either Amouage Lyric or Chanel no. 5 in parfum form. It always takes me by surprise with the price of pure parfum. There is no such thing as having too much perfume.

  4. annemariec21:36

    I like matching b&b products. Bath oils can be an economical (if they are strong enough) way of boosting a fragrance, or even for wearing alone. However, I'm not in the US so I can't buy from, sadly. I shall have to hope that some of this makes it way on to eBay.

    I say 'if strong enough' because I bought some Jo Malone bath oil, just a little 30 ml bottle of Lime Basil & Mandarin, and was surprised at how weak it was. I thought 30 mls would last forever, but after only a few baths, it is half gone. Again I wonder, is Jo Malone really worth it?

  5. Mimi G02:00

    Chanel No 5 bath oil from the 1990s was wonderful stuff- the ultimate in luxury for me in those days. :)

  6. I have Ormonde Jayne's Ta'if bath oil and it is DIVINE! You can put it in the bath or put a touch on your fingers and use on your skin. It's lovely stuff and there's nothing quite as romantic, luxurious and relaxing as an oil-scented bath. Bath oils feel so different than soapy bubble baths-- so luxurious and silky.

    Unfortunately, I'm not normally a fan of No 5. The oil-ish Elixir Sensuel is the only version that I really love. If this was like that, but for the bath, that might tempt me...

    If they did a bath oil of the Exclusifs, I'd buy Cuir de Russie in flash. I'd also buy the after-bath oil, the powder, the soap... are you reading this Chanel? ;)

  7. Fiordiligi17:21

    I remember that wonderful 3-layered bath oil - even though I'm not a Chanel No 5 girl, I've always loved the bath and body products. Maybe I should give this one a whirl.....

    I, too, am crazy about matching bath and body products and have amassed many "proper" Guerlain items. Currently I am obsessed with the Art Deco glass-bottled talcum powders. Aaaah!

  8. I was tempted by your post and bought the huile intense pour le bain. I've never smelled older versions. This one one is rich, intense, not too aldehydic, but with jasmine, ylang-ylang, and woody resins clear to the nose. Excellent. I prefer it to the edp, though not to the soap (and I haven't smelled the parfum yet). The only problem is, I don't take baths, only showers; I'm wondering if it can be somehow repurposed to a shower gel...


  9. Anonymous07:25

    This is the exact same bath oil they discontinued about a year & a half ago, only then it was $45 and now its $85. What a scam.

  10. Paul Rowlands10:30

    To the commenter above, they should never have discontinued it in the first place. This is my favourite bath oil, and is well worth the money.

  11. Anonymous01:20

    This is awful! I have been buying this bath oil religiously every few months, since the 90s and have just ran out. Today I went to the store to buy a new bottle and was told it was discontinued. So I called two Chanel boutiques and they said to check online. Now I go online to Chanel and they want to sell the same oil that was 45 dollars a few months ago for 85 dollars. What a 83 *$*@%#!! shame for faithful Chanel customers who have been buying this product for years! Or, for anyone who wanted to try it. This is a scam and they should be ashamed of themselves.

  12. E,

    I hear this complaint and I think to myself how things have changed so much in a few short years: back in 2005 the price of 85 dollars was considered an obscene amount of money asked (even for a small bottle of perfume, not just a body oil!) Now it's standard. Colour me disillusioned.


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