A recent survey of over two thousand adults aimed at establishing some key fragrance related facts came up with some interesting findings. For example, fifty percent of women interviewed said they would never buy a perfume without trying it first. Now that’s not exactly earth shattering news is it? I mean how many of us would actually go out and buy a perfume or aftershave without knowing what it smells like? Despite this, it seems that the fragrance industry as a whole doesn’t seem to get this obvious point, or if it does, doesn’t seem to think it’s important.
This particular survey clearly emphasized the importance of ‘try before you buy’, particularly with women under the age of twenty four. In fact, research done the previous year had shown that as much as eighty eight percent of consumers select a fragrance on smell rather than any other factors. So given these undeniable facts, why isn’t the fragrance industry providing more opportunities for consumers to sample products? Surely, if consumers have more opportunities to sample new fragrances, they are more likely to buy or could it be that the industry would prefer that we impulse buy, making our purchase decisions based purely on the evocative fragrance marketing that supports each product. In essence they are not selling a fragrance, but rather the idea that wearing a particular brand is going to make you irresistible to the opposite sex, or exude confidence like whichever celebrity they’ve gotten to promote it.
But as consumers, are we really that naive? The research seems to indicate otherwise so maybe it’s time the industry accepted that fact and made fragrance sampling more accessible. Of course we could all go down to our local high street beauty store or dedicated perfume shop to try out some of the limited samples available but that’s not always practical. Besides that, to truly test a new fragrance you can’t simply pop in to a store and cover yourself in twenty different scents and then expect to make a decision in the moment. Perfumes evolve over time and change the longer they’ve been on the skin so should ideally be tested one at a time, over the course of a few hours.
Occasionally, sample vials of new products are available either in-store or if your lucky enough to find them, online but those promotions soon expire. So what’s the answer? One particular niche brand, Ormonde Jayne, has come up with a clever solution. They sell something called a Discovery Set, which is comprised of twelve 2ml mini sprays of each of their perfumes, together with a brochure explaining each scent. Not only is this a great way to discover the brand’s products, but it also makes a perfect gift. Some of the big name brands have produced perfume mini sets, with selections of 10ml or 15ml perfumes but these tend to be hard to find and aren’t necessarily the most cost effective ways to sample new fragrances.
Sample vials are definitely the best way for consumers to test new fragrances but the real challenge is how to get those vials into the hands of consumers. Obviously there’s a cost to producing sample vials so giving away limitless supplies of them is not feasible, even for big brands, but if priced realistically, would consumers be willing to pay for samples? A 2009 trial perfume sample service by a UK-based online retailer seemed to indicate that consumers were prepared to pay a small amount to sample new products so hopefully, in time, more perfume manufacturers will follow the example set by Ormonde Jayne and allow us to sample new fragrances in the comfort of our own homes.