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Friday, March 9, 2012

Top-20 Best-selling Fragrances for women in the USA (2011)

By popular demand, after the Top-20 Best-selling Fragrances for women in France for 2011, which many readers mailed me to say was an eye-opener, I decided to post what the popular choices (based on bulk of sales) during the year 2011 in the American market are. A sort of two-faces-of Janus project, if you wish.

I had prefaced my French post by saying that people with an interest in perfumes imagine the French to be wildly sophisticated when it comes to fragrances; perhaps it comes with the territory, having so many options, though to be honest the US market is by far more populated. And yet, it's more of a form of branding, a subject on which the French have excelled while Americans have languished. As one of my friends in marketing says "USA branded itself as star& stripes, hamburgers, NBA, Hollywood and big-tit tanned blondes from California". Not exactly premium, you'd argue. And yet, this is exactly why we love to dump down on American culture, even Americans themselves. The USA as an uber-democratic, nascent nation decidedly branded itself as catering to the mass, with their Walmarts and their Costcos and For All Humanity jeans, in constrast to the largely still medieval-farmer/bourgeois mentality of the French with their small boutiques. Both societies have their elites, socio-economic as well as intellectual, but whereas one of them is proud of it, the other is self-effacing, almost embarassed to see it mentioned. See where I'm getting?

Robert Redford & Jane Fonda in Barefoor in the Park (1967) via Mary Lou Cinnamon
The Americans also routinely receive flack from perfumefreaks because they're supposed to like "clean" perfumes, i.e. shampoo & laundry detergent smelling stuff we turn our noses on. (I assure you that that is better than smelling the bad breath of a typical Gitannes-smoking French, but that's fodder for another discussion). And yet, I can't erase from my mind Sarah Jessica Parker's comment, while explaining her layering technique of perfumes and how she envisioned her first perfume in her own name, Lovely. It was in Chandler Burr's The Perfect Scent, where Parker revealed that she loved the smell of body odor, strong sweet musk, and general all-around dirtiness and concluded that "Americans, we love our body odour"; she was already brainstorming for her "B.O scent for everywoman" (which turned out to be the quirky Covet).

To revert to perfumes in the real market perspective, as my reader Victoria commented: "I still think this [French] list is a bit fancier than the top 20 American scents would be. I'd imagine that list would be filled with Britney Spears, JLo, Pink Sugar, and other generic fragrances." But as Mals from Muse in Wooden Shoes says "Chances are, these are the things that your college roommate, your bank teller, your Aunt Becky, and the cashier at your grocery store are wearing, and they don’t smell so bad…"
So come with me, dear readers, to see which 20 perfumes really make America tilt (in no particular order). And if you want to contrast it with what happened an only two short years ago, check this 2009 fragrance best-sellers (US and France) list out.



Chanel Coco Mademoiselle (this tops the list, predictably as it was the US Chanel headquarters who insisted on its creation and is topping the list for some years now)
Burberry Body
Calvin Klein Euphoria
Chanel No.5
Chanel Chance 
Chanel Chance Eau Fraiche
Christian Dior J'Adore 
Clinique Aromatics Elixir
Clinique Happy
D&G Light Blue
Donna Karan Cashmere Mist
Estee Lauder Beautiful
Estee Lauder Knowing
Estee Lauder Sensuous Nude
Estee Lauder Pleasures 
Fendi Fan di Fendi
Justin Bieber Someday
Prada Candy
Taylor Swift Wonderstruck
Thierry Mugler Angel

thanks to Laure Philips for info

What we consider that should be popular in the USA presents its own interest, nevertheless. In that spirit, if you hadn't caught it when I first posted it back in 2009, please read Stars & Stripes: 10 Quintessentially American Fragrances.

But more importantly and I'm interested in opinions, rather than hard facts:  
What do YOU consider American-smelling? And why?

20 comments:

  1. This list seems to correspond to what I see and smell here, and to counter space in department stores. And exudes whiffs of fruits and flowers -as it should, since this is the smell US women seem to crave for themselves.

    By birth, it should be the confident, business-like Estee Lauders, of which I see only Aromatics elixir and, surprisingly, Knowing. But it seems that as women slowly make progress in the workforce, they revert to the girly smells their mothers would have considered demeaning.

    Interesting to see Angel as well. I don't smell it much around here, but it does get plenty of counter space, so evidently there's some of it around.

    cacio

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  2. SJP in in the minority, and spoke out of turn with Americans loving their b.o. Those of us who do are in the minority. I cannot believe how many parents go to buy their PRE-teens deodorant - makes me crazy.

    And I cannot believe how many people look at me in shock when I tell them I don't use it!

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  3. I'm always reading that Americans love "clean" scents, and that Americans love "loud" scents. Which is it? Me, I like green chypres and leathers, so I guess I should be living in another country or more likely, another century.

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  4. M,

    great! Thanks!

    You know, it's a fault of EL that they keep some of the best stuff beneath the counter. Here for instance White Linen is very popular and not considered a "hide it under the counter" kinda thing. And although Aromatics Elixir is HUGE (probably because the Clinique line is so streamlined and they do have the testers on disaplay so people try, like, buy, I don't see Knowing testers...It's an odd policy, as it drives the sales in a way, not allowing a true popular vote.

    I have always read that Angel is pretty big in the US, as it is everywhere after all.

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  5. C,

    it's an intriguing comment, though, isn't it?? It stuck. I'm not sure what she meant, as it was never clear if she meant it for to-be-made Covet (which is kinda dirty) or for already-in-the-cards Lovely (which is not especially dirty).

    Deos for children? Gosh!!! My hair is standing on end. And these parents don't want to give them cologne because it supposedly is "sexualising"? I just don't get it.

    It's very interesting however that ALL the Americans fragonerds are positive on liking some dirtiness in their fumes. Is that cultural denial in the interests of assimilating what is the accepted "norm" in fragoland? Is it that these are the people who had always had a dirt-liking gene and are therefore more responsive to perfumes with those "notes"? Is it that fragonerds are just a very very small percentage in the general population? Possibly a combination of all those things.

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  6. Cheesegan,

    clean scents CAN be loud, you know. I think it might be both, though several perfumes of big American popularity are not that clean, to be honest. It's a popular theme to play with Puritanism and cleanness in re: to the US. Makes for easy journalism ;-)

    Thanks for your comment! Excellent choices i have to say.

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  7. I would probably consider Tommy Girl, Estee Lauder Pleasures, and Clinique Happy, American smelling. The squeaky clean floral perfume, It seems like we (Americans) are afraid of the fact that we have body functions and we do smell.

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  8. Americans are classier than I thought! ;) And it's interesting that Chanel dominates in the US but not in France... I guess that's part of Chanel's marketing to America

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  9. I associate Estee Lauder Pleasures with what I think Americans smell like. Floral, sharp, spring-like. Not very complex.

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  10. I think that we U.S. fragonerds (love that term, btw) do have a dirt-loving gene. Perhaps some of us? are more, do I dare say, European that other Americans? Or do we not only have a keen interest in smells, but also to research/search out those smells?

    There should be a study on how many American fragonerds are long-time Americans or just a coupla grandparents away from the 'old country'. Basically because I think I got my 'sense of smell' from my British and Greek relatives.

    Off topic: I also think it's REALLY cool that in Season 6 of Doctor Who, they show a perfume called Petrichor!

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  11. oh and PS: I really really wanted Covet to be dirtier!

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  12. Thalia20:37

    I am SHOCKED to see Knowing on that list! I love it so much, but it certainly doesn't fit in with current scent trends and you never see it advertised.

    I'm also surprised that neither Dior Addict nor Armani Code made the list.

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  13. Hi, I'm a new follower ~ looking for a great perfume blog, and I've found it! ♥♥
    Best,
    Anne

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  14. I belong to a pretty nice gym, and in over 10 years can remember smelling only three scents on women there: Light Blue, Angel and Cashmere Mist. Sometimes we here in perfumemanialand forget that ours is a small world. (Of course I do live in a perfume backwater!)

    To me, the more floral/sheer Lauders are very American perfumes, as were the Calvin Kleins and Ralph Laurens in their day. And often, when I ask what someone is wearing, the answer is some product from Bath & Body Works. I also think that Americans tend to be a little more frugal as regards buying perfume than, say, Parisians. I may be wrong, but don't predict many American buyers for the recent stratospherically-priced niche fragrances.

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  15. I belong to a pretty nice gym, and in over 10 years can remember smelling only three scents on women there: Light Blue, Angel and Cashmere Mist. Sometimes we here in perfumemanialand forget that ours is a small world. (Of course I do live in a perfume backwater!)

    To me, the more floral/sheer Lauders are very American perfumes, as were the Calvin Kleins and Ralph Laurens in their day. And often, when I ask what someone is wearing, the answer is some product from Bath & Body Works. I also think that Americans tend to be a little more frugal as regards buying perfume than, say, Parisians. I may be wrong, but don't predict many American buyers for the recent stratospherically-priced niche fragrances.

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  16. PeachOrDaisy19:41

    Nice to see Chanel at the top of the list but pity nary a Guerlain in the bunch..

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  17. Anonymous08:17

    I don't think there's anything typically french or american anymore in this day and age of globalization except that american women spritz on perfume up in the air and walk through it, they love their Chanel No.5 but they're fragrance-shy. That's probably the reason why I never smell perfume on anyone to the exception of Jersey shore douchebags who wear cheap cologne and gay men in Manhattan who overdose on Tom Ford Black Orchid - seriously horrible!

    Emma

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  18. Anything smelling "just out of the shower" or marine or ozonic.
    Anything sticky, sugary-juicy litchee-like, anything candy-like or sirupy...
    I'm surprised yet to see some fragrances in the top ten like Aromatics Elixir and Knowing, so there's still hope on the other side of the ocean :)

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  19. I am an American, I am a perfumista, I love skank in my perfumes and I do not own any of the perfumes on that list but vintage Chanel no5. I second PeachOrDaisy about the Guerlains. That was a surprise. Also, I think its interesting that Aromatics Elixir is on it. I agree it means we are not as clean and sugary as one would think! Thank gawd!

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  20. I must say I find the list quite fascinating, not least because of the appearance of some praiseworthy new players, like Candy from Prada.

    It would be interesting to see the list broken down into individual states.

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