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Cultural influence on perfume taste

Cultural influence on perfume taste 11 years ago
Hi, I'd like to discuss the impact that culture has on perfume taste. From reading international blogs and forums I got the notion that e.g. people from US are more into 'fresh and clean' than Europeans are. In some reviews I sometimes got the impression that they tend to say clean when they like the juice and just don't find a more suitable descriptor. They use 'clean' for scents that in my opinion don't really stand out due to their cleanliness. They generally seem to worry a lot about their natural body odours, that's why 'clean' is virtually one of the best things one can say about a frag.
Another 'prejudice' would be that Arabs like rose+oud frags and that Asians tend to like subtle fragrances.
On the other hand I observe that there are fragrances that virtually everybody from all over the world loves.

I got the theory that those regional preferences are especially true for the 'normal' buyer who is not a perfumista. Last weekend I went to the dressmaker - she's Persian or something like that - she smelled of rose-oud - fulfilling the cliché. But when people dive into the world of perfume, their taste seems to internationalise. Sensuality and aesthetic ideals become more important. We discover that a given scent typical of one region works just as well in a totally different context. Nowadays many people from everywhere discover the beauty in rose-oud fragrances for example. Perfumistas from all over the world praise the skankyness in certain scents (Jicky just to name one) regardless their cultural background. Certainly perfume communities on the internet push this globalisation, which is great, because it is a huge enrichment for everyone. In the long run it helps small niche firms to survive and maybe bigger designer houses to take them as an example in terms of innovation.
What do you think?
11 years ago
I'm American but gravitate towards very substantial fragrances. I do like some lighter, season-specific scents, but as a rule I purchase the heavier ones.

Most people in the USA who are your normal consumers and not in this hobby do prefer the more generic creations. It's what they have been spoon fed at the malls over the years and what has been marketed down their throats.

Hobbyists from all over the world are more open to try everything over time and then decide from there.
11 years ago
I agree with AromiErotici, Americans tend to gravitate toward whatever is being "sold" to them at the time by marketers. At this time it's fresh, clean, sweet and fruity.

When I first started getting into perfume in the eighties, though, it was totally different. We were all wearing heavy orientals like Opium, Poison and Obsession and big monster florals like Giorgio, Amarige and Eternity. In my mother's day, it was aldehydes like Shalimar and Chanel 5.

I think the typical consumer just follows what happens to be in fashion at the time.
Last edited by Njdeb on 29.01.2012, 04:28; edited 1 time in total
11 years ago
The American public generally wear fragrances driven by popularity. You might be familiar with fragrances that are based on musicians, artist, fashion designers or sports figures. The manufactures of these fragrances are aware of the general acceptance of fresh or clean scents currently. The public gets pushed towards purchasing these product through commercials and advertisement. The fresh and clean scents are used in everything from window cleaners to fabric softeners. The manufactures have made it a priority to include fresh and clean as part of the fragrances structure. Stick sweet and fruity, is yet another fragrance note widely desired and accepted by the American customer. You could probably profile the same customer 30 years earlier and find woods and spices to be the culprit.

Don't discount all Americans as craving the fresh and clean only scents. Many more have a great appreciation of the finer things in the fragrance world. They may have also grown-up on scent structures of the past and admire them. You know how our sense of smell can play games with us making memories that cannot be separated from the smells associated with them.
11 years ago
I think that a good example relevant to this discussion is the oft cited "datum" or "factoid" that Estée Lauder Beautiful is the #1 fragrance in the United States.

My best guess is that this has come about (assuming that it is true...) because lots of American women do not know very much about perfume, and when they ask at a counter, they are told that Beautiful is the #1 perfume, and also that women often wear it to their wedding. That's part of their ad campaign, actually, and I suspect that many women who are not sophisticated about perfume may seek such advice when they are planning their wedding.

What do you think about this theory?
Cool
11 years ago
Your theory is sometimes true, Sherapop. As I was trying to state earlier, people are very influenced by popular culture. They are even influenced by the sales associate behind the counter pushing that popular culture. You would think that fragrances would be a highly personal purchase but people can be so easily swayed.
11 years ago
Oh, in that case swedish (and scandinavians in general I guess) are more like americans, then south europeans. Everything marketed as clean and fresh is on the perfume toplist here. And not to mention all the different celebrity scents. So, fresh, clean, fruityfloral and with some celebrity name on it, it´s a total success here. Confused

In Sweden we don´t have much of a perfume tradition as in countries in southern europe, and middle east, india and so on. But, on the other hand swedes are very trendy and I think brands like swedish Byredo is popular among people without an actual perfume interest, but that wants to feel more unique then wearing the average drugstore brand. Comme des Garcons is also a little more known in sweden.

I can´t say my american perfumista friends differs so much in taste from my european one´s or south american and so on.
11 years ago
I didn't want to discount all Americans as craving the fresh and clean only scents - I think there is a difference between someone whose interest in perfume is above average and people for whom a perfume is simply a commodity that makes them feel fresh and clean all day.

So you think it is more a fashion thing than a regional preference?
11 years ago
DieNase:
I didn't want to discount all Americans as craving the fresh and clean only scents - I think there is a difference between someone whose interest in perfume is above average and people for whom a perfume is simply a commodity that makes them feel fresh and clean all day.

So you think it is more a fashion thing than a regional preference?

Well, Americans are well known for their obsession with personal hygiene (mouthwash, deodorant, frequent showers, breathmints, etc.), so there may be more to it than fashion... Anyone who is concerned with not being "stinky" will probably steer clear of civet perfumes, just to offer one obvious example...

Cool
11 years ago
I believe that global culture is what stands out, I mean as foresaid, marketing and ads play a huge role, put big ad posters in the shops and magazines, also if an actress is the face of a perfuem that is it, it is one of the best sellers. I dont think half of women who wear no% would wear if it wasnt a legend made by Marilyn, I think many women also adore Hypnotic Poison because tehy have the image of Monica Belluci in their heads, those who smell the actual scent and value it are the minority sadly. So makreting is really everything..
In Greece for some time now the best sellers are jadore, no5, hypnotic posion, gucci guilty, dg the one, everything contemporary also..
also in Turkey i have noticed that many many women smell of Lolita lempicka edp.. other than that i dont believe there is a pattern. surely i would love to think that arabian women smell of oud and taif rose attars but sadly i believe that their hearts beat also for what they see in magazines.. ahh popularity..this is what made so many beloved fragrances discontinued.
11 years ago
Many people that have no previous experience with quality perfumes, steer clear of some niche fragrances. They might be too dirty smelling for their clean and fresh concept.

Many Americans I know follow modern fashion trends and purchase designer fragrances. These fragrances are within their budgets, where niche fragrances are not. It's too bad because the niche fragrances are much more interesting, in my opinion.
11 years ago
from what i have seen in youtube videos almost all american girls have
vera wang princess
a paris hilton fragrance
ralph lauren ralph
chanel no5
chanel chance
11 years ago
^This is a pure example of the power of suggestions and advertising. So many times have I heard people say, "But so and so wears this perfume".
11 years ago
I think that personal hygiene, as Sherapop already mentioned, is a factor, that has become a lot more important in the past decades- not only in the US, of course. Wink Fragrances might just be reflecting this cultural development, or what do you think?
11 years ago
Flaconneur:
Many people that have no previous experience with quality perfumes, steer clear of some niche fragrances. They might be too dirty smelling for their clean and fresh concept.

Many Americans I know follow modern fashion trends and purchase designer fragrances. These fragrances are within their budgets, where niche fragrances are not. It's too bad because the niche fragrances are much more interesting, in my opinion.

Well, I think in this case, budget ist more a function of priority than of income Wink
I think you must be a perfume addict (or too rich) in order to spend 200$ for a perfume...
11 years ago
Perfume addict? Perhaps. Rich? Definitely not but I am economical and don't see any reason to throw good money at bad perfume.
11 years ago
That's why I said OR and not AND Wink
Probably we're all just addicts...
11 years ago
DieNase:
That's why I said OR and not AND Wink
Probably we're all just addicts...

Oh good: there's a logician in the house!

Laughing
11 years ago
I am at SA at Sephora and there are a HUGE number of girls (and some women) that like DKNY Be Delish, Light Blue and Ralph Lauren. From the Men's side too the clean and Fresh are very substantial.

As an SA I feel pressured to suggest perfumes that the client is sure to love. I am not going to go through ALL our perfumes wearing out their nose if I know they don't like musk notes. I suggest similar things assuring myself they will like my suggestions.
If someone came in as an open book and was open to anything I would find the best rose...musk....amber to narrow down what they like. I would suggest similar things to clients and they are buying those similar things.
11 years ago
So, in this case Jubliant, what I was saying previously applies. The sale associate can influence the customer.
11 years ago
I think that the smell of HOUSEHOLD CLEANING PRODUCTS have a lot of influence of our taste in perfumes.

I think most of us avoid perfumes that smell like that, though, otherwise, they are not bad perfumes.
11 years ago
Bouzeos:
I think that the smell of HOUSEHOLD CLEANING PRODUCTS have a lot of influence of our taste in perfumes.

I think most of us avoid perfumes that smell like that, though, otherwise, they are not bad perfumes.

I'm starting to wonder about this, actually, because there seem to be so many new perfumes being launched which feature "fabric softener", "dryer sheets", and "sweet laundry" notes!

This suggests that people are buying them--otherwise, why and how could so many of these similar types of "household" fragrances be launched?

Wink
11 years ago
In many reviews I've seen stuff like: it reminds me of dishwashing liquid/toilet disinfectant/room spray/furniture polish/laundry detergent/scented toilet paper. And with a bad conotation. Although these products don't necessarely smell bad.

Few such stuff get a good rap... fabric softner is a diffrent story I think- it smells a lot like real good perfumes. And they perfume sheets. And people like "clean linen smell".

Hm... it's a bit of a dilemma here, I wonder if there's any study about this.
9 years ago
Rebella:
Oh, in that case swedish (and scandinavians in general I guess) are more like americans, then south europeans. Everything marketed as clean and fresh is on the perfume toplist here. And not to mention all the different celebrity scents. So, fresh, clean, fruityfloral and with some celebrity name on it, it´s a total success here. Confused

In Sweden we don´t have much of a perfume tradition as in countries in southern europe, and middle east, india and so on. But, on the other hand swedes are very trendy and I think brands like swedish Byredo is popular among people without an actual perfume interest, but that wants to feel more unique then wearing the average drugstore brand. Comme des Garcons is also a little more known in sweden.

I can´t say my american perfumista friends differs so much in taste from my european one´s or south american and so on.

I dug up this thread from the archives while looking for something else but I definitely spy these cultural differences -- I can't say anything abt American tastes but I can definitely confirm that the Nordic countries tend to favour the fresh, clean, barely-there sort of perfumes with the exception of some global megahits like Poison and stuff. The difference between Nordic countries and Southern Europe is PALPABLE and used to give me headaches Wink

Of course this is just my observation but I agree with Rebella, perfumistas' tastes don't seem that affected by local conventions.

And to finish this off with a personal anecdote: I used to think "Shalimar Parfum Initial" was a real stinkbomb when I first tried it in the beginning of my perfumed journey, now I think it's a lovely tame comfort scent to wear at home Smile
9 years ago
As an American, I would say that those of us that have been involved with perfumes for decades as a hobby are much more into the heavier scents because we have traveled down the path and experienced more. We probably crave more. We were raised on heavier perfumes, also. The younger generation is being influenced by so much mass marketing now thrown at them through the internet, magazines, television and so much mass media that they really have no idea what they should be choosing for themselves based on individuality. They base their choices on popularity instead. Or on who the current popular singer is that is hawking a perfume. And that's pretty sad.
As far as fresh and clean scents, I've never worn them. I find them boring. I want substance in my perfume. Something that's "fresh and clean" would seem like something that would disappear too quickly for my nose and liking.
But I also believe that age at times may have something to do with personal preferences. Not that you can peg perfumes with an age group, but you can say the longer a person has been delving into perfumes as a perfumista, then the more sophisticated and deeper their tastes may be, the stronger their perfumes may be. Perhaps the more a perfume addict searches, the deeper their abyss is.
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