Thursday, December 20, 2012

Top 10 Most Popular Fragrances in France 2012 for Men & for Women and Favorites for the Opposite Sex

Best-selling lists are always interesting to ponder on as they reveal more than merely shopping habits. When it comes to how women view specific perfumes as "ideal" (or close to ideal) however it gains on even more esoteric nuances as it bypasses the obstacle of price hindrances or availability. To that end Promise Consulting Inc has generated a most interesting research comprising 1082 women 18 years old and upwards (out of which 1000 are perfume buyers themselves), conducted between 28 November and 15 December 2012 which resulted on a list of perfumes that French women view as close to what they consider "ideal", as well as which perfumes they find best for offering to men. Men on a similar pool of subjects were also asked which perfumes garner their interest as "ideal" to offer to their women, as well as which they judge as most desirable for themselves. The results, posted below are most revealing. [NB.Please note these are my personal interpretations of the results and therefore the companies themselves or the research firm might disagree. I urge you to discuss your own opinions on them in the comments!]
First of all it's a resounding affirmation which I have long held that the French consumer is comparatively conservative and relying on established brands with recognized "luxury cachet" (and is therefore a stark contrast to the USA best-selling perfumes list for the same year). Big companies do not invest money in their marketing and advertising budget without knowing this intimately. Campaigns such as Dior's J'Adore featuring Charlize Theron (and recently reprising silver screen icons to supplement the glamour) have helped make a sensation out of a perfume that very soon after its introduction it became the leader in the market. Niche fragrances are nowhere to be found in such lists, confirming the above view and validating the term "niche" after all.

It's intriguing to see that the women's preferred perfumes list doesn't vary much from the actual best-selling perfumes list for 2011: in short, what French women end up buying is what French women consider most desirable for themselves, hence the undisputed throne of J'Adore by Dior, which has been a steady best-seller for 10 years now. Florals, fruity florals, woody florals (Parisienne, Flower)  and "gourmands" (Nina, Lolita Lempicka) reign supreme. Although there is technically a "French style perfume genre", modern French women are  more fashion-conscious than that; market trends have marched on and women have embraced the trends no matter where they're situated.
Comparing with what men actually seek to gift their women with is fascinating: the notoriety and pedigree of classics (No 5, Shalimar) takes precedence over popularity, but not by too large a margin: J'Adore is sandwhiched between No.5 and Shalimar. A few other suggestions crop up which haven't been featured in the women's list. Generally it involves perfumes which have been best-selling for years before, such as Angel or Coco Mademoiselle, which women themselves do not mention in their most desired top-10 probably due to overexposure to them over the years of smelling them everywhere. Men, even French men, on the other hand seem to like familiar scents (scents they have smelled before) and they also like to lean on a stable, surefire standby that has proven its value before, such as a "classic". As Frédéric Malle puts it on the current issue of “A lot of people give Chanel No. 5 for the same reason they might buy an Apple computer—because they think they can’t go wrong.” Orientals seem more populated in the men's list than on the women's.

Men choosing for themselves is also interesting as opposed to what women find as best for their men. Although "fresh" is the default choice there are some interesting variations on the theme. Hugo Boss, Azzaro and Calvin Klein have sold their fragrances with a virility or modernity angle for ages and continue to do so. The classic Eau Sauvage by Dior features  highly in both sexes' lists (possibly rekindled by the 2010 commercial featuring Alain Delon scenes from 1960s film La Piscine). The celebrity or eye-candy factor might be why Dior Homme is on the list of women liking on men (a combination of scent and Jude Law fronted advertising), whereas the same fragrance doesn't appear on the "men for themselves" list. Generally men are proving more conservative in their choices once again.
There is the anomaly of women designating Chanel Allure Eau de Toilette (which is marketed to women!) for men. I can't possibly account for that fact other than to say there might have been some mix-up between names and gender-targeted smells and since Allure in eau de toilette is generally "fresh" (with citrus top notes and a clean powdery drydown) it might appear good for a man to wear regardless of the demographic it's aimed at. Le Male is higher on the men's list than on the women's list for men gift-giving,  I'm hypothesizing because the image of the androgynous (and being a "gay" favorite) creates a distance between established luxury and "hipness".

Top 10 perfumes that women appreciate as best for themselves (France 2012):

1.Dior J'adore
2.Dior Miss Dior (Cherie)
3.Chanel No.5
4.Nina Ricci Nina (apple bottle, modern juice)
5.Kenzo Flower
6.Yves Saint Laurent Parisienne
7.Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire
8.Lancome Tresor
9.Lolita Lempicka Lolita (original)
10.Nina Ricci L'Air du Temps

Top 10 perfumes that men appreciate as best to gift to women (France 2012):

1. Chanel No.5
2.Dior J'Adore
3.Guerlain Shalimar
4.Lancome Tresor
5.Dior Miss Dior (Cherie)
6.Chanel Coco
7.Chanel Coco Mademoiselle
8.Dior Pure Poison
9.Kenzo Flower
10.Thierry Mugler Angel

Top 10 fragrances that men appreciate as best for themselves (France 2012):
1.Hugo Boss Boss
2.Hugo Boss Hugo
3.Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male
4.Dior Eau Sauvage
5.Azzaro pour Homme
6.Calvin Klein CK One
7.Armani Aqua di Gio
8.Dior Farhenheit
9.Hugo Boss Boss Signature
10.Chanel Allure Homme Sport

Top 10 fragrances that women appreciate as best to gift to men (France 2012):
1.Hugo Boss Boss
2.Dior Eau Sauvage
3. Chanel Allure Homme
4.Armani Aqua di Gio
5.Chanel Allure (the women's Eau de toilette, please note)
6.Dior Homme
7.Hugo Boss Hugo
8.Azzaro pour Homme
9.Chanel Allure Homme Sport
10.Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male

 The data comes from Promise Consulting Inc in partnership with, hence the pics.


  1. Anonymous14:49

    Fascinating data and analysis! From time to time I drop by Fred's Easy Fashion Paris blog to admire the enviable style of the women he photographs on the streets of Paris. He asks them questions, too, including what perfume they are wearing. I'm always amazed that even the women with the most daring style choices opt for boring mainstream perfumes. I've seen niche mentioned only a few times. ~~nozknoz

  2. Looking at results like this a couple of thoughts emerge:

    - amazing how we conveive ourselves different from what males think of our attraction:)

    - my goodness, it's either the world of perfumery is getting more and more boring, or is it more true that we, perfumistas, are just fed up with wits and spoiled compared to 'normal' perfume buyers?!...

    - funny... lovers and spouses tend to consider their beloved as juicy fruity more than anything else...;))) Princes lemons and princesses peachies-plummies... I was usually inclined to think I am a big flower of the woods.... Yip!:))))

  3. Anonymous16:26

    I don't speak French and my translator script is being glitchy, can you offer a link to the methodology in this study? I was wondering if people simply pulled perfume names from memory or if they were presented with some sort of a list of 20 or 50 to pull from. It could effect the results. But I can't read this link well enough to find a link to the stats behind the survey! It would help!

    Also the fact that only 1000 of the 10000 participants bought perfume themselves is of interest.

  4. Anonymous16:51

    Jude Law is the face of Dior Homme?

    So Guerlain's whimsical and aggressive marketing of La Petite Robe Noire worked on ladies - LPRN is recognized in the top ten list of "ideals." New this year and it scores on the list.


  5. LPRN Guerlain smells like a flanker of Lempicka from the Midnigght series, so it is normal to be on top, Lempicka being a constant French favorite over last years. Years back, Lolita Lempicka emerged right from Angel, it's just a sweter and younger variation on the original Angel theme so there is no big surprise LPRN gets so much attention. No5 gets sold mainly on inertia, so its real popularity and its real share of the market is difficult to be identiefied exactly. I know many ladies that were gifted No 5 by family memebrs or coleagues and then they go and swap it in a perfume boutique or just regift it further on. Biying this for someone is the safest thing on earth and since Chanel is pretty expensive, it's always apreciated. It's a bit like gifting a man a Givenchy tie. If he doesn't like it's still a "Givenchy", it shows apreciation... I once gifted myself an older friend a No5, because I told myself she can regift it if she, maybe, doesn't like it. Which she eventually did, as I found out. She was very happy she could offer something classy to a friend! It is very possible the No5 bottle stills circulates different places and peope's houses. :)

    J'adore is pure conformism, a nice floral conformism, like a Coca Cola of perfumes, Nina the same but for the younger crowd, Angel has its fierce devotees (I am one of them, only death could part me from my Angel bottle) and so does Tresor, a staple for the now 40-45 segment. We were beautiful&young when it was launched and that's why we still love it, besides, 40+ women do have the mone to buy whtaever they want and can easily indulge in the perfume of their prime! :). I won't comment on Coco Mademoiselle, since I absolutely hate it and I'll stay silent on the L'air du temps, it's a nice inofensive scent with a great name and a nostalgic feeling.

  6. Anonymous20:43

    @Miheala, good points. If I didn't have the 2009 LPRN, I wouldn't connect it (the new one) to Lolita Lempicka, but you're right. It also falls into the Miss Dior (Cherie) and Coco Mademoiselle camps with its clean patchouli.

    I hope Dior really does make a new le parfum of J'adore, I like L'Or and Absolue.


  7. Miss Heliotrope01:13

    It is interesting, and French style is often conservative/classic - good or bad or both as you choose.

    I agree with the comments on Chanel 5 - it is (like the conservative/classic thing) a safe bet, but a REALLY GOOD safe bet, which helps.

    I find it amusing that none of my best loved appear.

  8. OMG Helg - the whole lot is just so ......... Boring!!! LOL !!!

    I think people world wide are so scared to be .... Different!!!

  9. "can you offer a link to the methodology in this study?"
    Indeed - methodology can have a big influence on the results. It can bring them closer to marketing tool then to truly representable research.

  10. N,

    that's very interesting to hear, I should probably check it out too! Fashion sense and daring somehow seems totally at odds with perfume daring for some reason; I have seen ultra conservative looking people having their eyes alight with some pretty naughty and daring stuff scentwise. Don't know if they'd wear that every day, but...

    Thanks for the suggestion!

  11. Ника

    astute observations, all of them!

    I think sometime someplace the notion of "freshness" moved from soap (aldehydes, musks) and grooming products (shaving cream, body powder, ergo fougeres and mossy/musky things) into synthesized fruits. From then on...

    Fresh is a powerful semantics sign. It just takes different interpretations through the decades. ;-)

  12. Anon,

    I had included the link at the bottom of the post. Alas it's in French, but you can at least see the charts in their full glory (and see the percentages of preference with the graphs: dark blue means close to ideal, grey is neither ideal nor disliked, white is not liked at all)

    BTW, it's 1082, not 10082 subjects questioned.

    There is no evidence from what I can see (without coffee, LOL) of being offered specific perfumes to choose from. I think that would seriously skew the results anyway (and wouldn't produce some of the unexpected things I noted). I also believe that the niche sector isn't registering with most of the users asked (it's a national representation, rather than solely Parisian) therefore no result in the top 10.

  13. L,

    he is for some time now!

    Watch (commercial clips by Guy Richie): teaser
    full commercial

    As to La Petite Robe, I think it's constructed to hit on sensitive nerves: the Guerlain heritage (iconic bottle, patrimoine cachet), the juicy but also powdery-anisic scent itself (reminiscent of other French best-sellers), the marketing with animations/illustrations that is very "young" and SATC, etc.

  14. Michaela,

    fascinating analysis and I agree wholeheartedly! You bring on some interesting points I hadn't thought of too, like the regifting of No.5 (must be happening!) and the total destruction of L'Air du Temps (which used to be great IMO but is a ghost of itself now).

    One thing I find funny is how I personally remember when Tresor was in its heyday it was exactly the 35 upwards group who digged it with a passion here. The under 35 were crazy about L'Eau d'Issey.
    But your theory that people continue to buy (and romanticize and nostalgize I might add) what was representative of their memory of their youth/"prime" is astoundingly accurate!!

  15. and oops, sorry I misspelt your name, Mihaela.

  16. L,

    even Lolita Lempicka is slightly changed itself, hence the relaunch as "Le Premier Parfum". I think the folks at Guerlain are capitalizing on another brand's best-seller for the second time (previous one was Idylle taking on Narciso).

    L'Or and L'Absolue are really premium incarnations of J'Adore. I own and enjoy the Absolue, it's much better than the current edp on shelves.

  17. C,

    the folks at Chanel have cleverly ensured that the "good safe bet" is everyone's idea of No.5.
    However, indulge me a thought: Since it gets re-gifted so much (and since public accounts on perfume boards attest to its getting bought a hell of a lot, but getting actually worn a hell of a lot less) how "safe" a bet is it, in the end?
    I find it's "safe" in the sense that Mihaela mentioned above so wisely: it's a status confirmation/offer and as such appreciated and idolized.
    I wouldn't mind more people actually wearing it though! (though I do smell it quite a bit around here)

    The French are known for their bourgeois tastes (no dismissive nuance meant, more said in the sense of "fitting in" with one's middle-class status). A testament to their agricultural/landlord societal structure of the past.

  18. M,

    it's absolutely true what you say! In a day and age when almost anything is validated as a personal choice (as long as it doesn't hurt other people), one would think people wouldn't be afraid not to fit in. But they are!


  19. Idomeneus,

    I believe that the body that conducts the research is indeed acting with marketing insights (or is using the research for marketing insights).
    After all Deloite has conducted a similar research (not strictly perfume) on Christmas gifts wanted and actually bought and we all know who Deloitte is.

    This kind of data is always game for stretching a bit here and there according to how the research is conducted. Still, they present exciting aspects to further think about.

  20. Dear all, I might be not the perfume connaiseur which you all seem to be, but I know that I've been searching all my life for THE perfume that would complete my personality. I've been oscilating for years between Versace's "Woman", Dior's "Poison" and formerly on Chanel's "Chance", with no regards to the marketing faces, fashion trends or perceived social status. What I know is that I've been always asked what I'm wearing, because of the less recognizable scents.. However, I believe that my quest of finding the ideal scent lead me to explore the non-commercial Maison de perfume in Nantes, Divine. I selected their men's scent "L'homme Sage".. Besides the perfect osmosis with my olfactive demands, I must highlight the different attitude of people around me... While just some adventured to ask me what was I wearing, it clearly sets a sort of respectful admiration... I am pleased with my new discovery and I believe in setting yourself apart from the scents' 'cacophony' within a crowd, thus distinguish yourself witth rare finding.

  21. Sorina,

    welcome to PerfumeShrine and by all means, you're not without knowledge of perfumes yourself it appears!
    Nice choice and we're Divine fans here, have you also checked my review of the latest L'Homme Infini? Very classy masculine that could be worn by women.
    I too find that your argument of setting apart one's self from the cacophony is often necessary and a solace.
    That's the whole appeal of niche, I suppose.

  22. Anonymous19:10

    P, there seems to be less Q&A on the Easy Paris Fashion site than there used to be, so less information on the perfume of the subjects. Check out some of the archives, too, if you have a chance. The style is still amazing, though. ~~nozknoz

  23. Merlin22:12

    I think the assistants at perfume counters / stores must influence the stats quite a lot. Someone impartial walks into a perfume store and the SA most likely asks 'what kind of a perfume do you like (or what kind do you think the giftee would like). From then on they probably have a stock representative of the 'oriental', the 'light and fresh', the 'fun and bubbly' and the 'dramatic'...


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