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!]
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 Vogue.fr: “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):
2.Dior Miss Dior (Cherie)
4.Nina Ricci Nina (apple bottle, modern juice)
6.Yves Saint Laurent Parisienne
7.Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire
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
5.Dior Miss Dior (Cherie)
7.Chanel Coco Mademoiselle
8.Dior Pure Poison
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
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)
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 Huffingtonpost.fr, hence the pics.