Changing fragrance tastes: The experiment.
I’ve related some recent experiences encountering other guys while shopping for fragrances, and noticing their adjustment to shopping for a new scent. Before I segue into the experiment of changing fragrance tastes, I’ll relate a couple of recent stories.
The first was a trip to Neiman Marcus where by the Creed display (the Creed salesperson and I are on a first name basis, and my wife was talking with her about Fleurs de Gardenia) I noted a couple I surmised to be in their late 20′s. Boyfriend/girlfriend, but definitely together for some time. He’d been testing other scents in the lineup and looked nervously toward me for a bit of male-bonding. We spoke briefly and I learned he’d already emptied a bottle of Aventus and became interested in Creed by way of Green Irish Tweed (Creed’s “gateway drug”). He liked Aventus, but his girlfriend wanted something different so they were eyeing Original Santal. As we got to chatting, I pointed to a tester of Tabarome Millesime on the display wall, and asked if he’d tried it.
He walked over, sprayed a card, and a look of surprise came over his face. “I’ve never smelled anything like this before, I really like it.” He then sprayed himself to test-drive it. But there was a key point in the conversation where he’d let me know that he understood the personal experience behind fragrance. His words: “I don’t want to smell like everyone else.”
This is where I smiled and knew: This guy ‘gets it’. His fragrance tastes had clearly changed from shopping at a Sephora or similar to stepping up his fragrance tastes.
Ginger, one of the corporate marketing folks from Guerlain in North America, related the story of walking into a location and noticing a customer ask for Lady Gaga “Fame”. The sales associate asked why she wanted it, and the customer responded, “Because everyone is wearing it.”
“You aren’t everyone,” the associate responded. “You’re an individual, don’t you want to let people know that?” After a stunned and surprised reaction that opened the customer’s eyes, the result was introducing her to a new fragrance that isn’t so new to many of us. She walked out with a bottle of Shalimar after a new perspective opened her to changing her own fragrance tastes. Not everyone else’s.
Now I’ve used those examples in the context of changing fragrance tastes because I’ve actually had a number of experiments in which I’ve introduced others to something new or not what they normally might select for themselves.
We’ll call the first experiment “Frank”, though that isn’t his actual name. He’s in his mid-20′s, in sales, and by all accounts your typical “guy”. Some time ago, he approached me knowing my tastes and asking for my opinions. Like most conversations, he talked about himself, his job, his lifestyle, and the scents he’s worn before. Then the pivotal question: How were his fragrance tastes changing?
After giving me the rundown of the usual suspects he’s exhausted — Le Male, Thierry Mugler’s A*Men, the Burberry collection, and everything he’s tried but not liked at department stores. And his price perception of what he should pay for a scent helped to set a certain expectation. Anything I’d recommend that he’d find in that league would leave him lacking so we discussed how both his fragrance tastes and his expectations had stepped up to the next level. So I offered some new suggestions that were a step forward from what he’d worn before, but since I was seeing him soon, I also told him I’d bring something along that I thought he’d like.
His first change was to step up to Ralph Lauren Purple Label EDT (around $95 for 125ml), light enough yet engaging, and it was a quick win.
The second part of the experiment was to have him sample a variety of scents that were, once again, another step forward in his changing fragrance tastes: Creed Aventus, Creed Millesime Imperial, Creed Royal Oud, a layering of Millesime Imperial and Royal Oud, Royal English Leather, and Guerlain Homme. Surprisingly enough, he didn’t care for the Guerlain selection. “OK, but lacking something,” he responded. The layered Royal Oud and Millesime Imperial caught his attention, Aventus was a close second, and — yeah, get this — Royal English Leather intrigued him.
No longer was Frank attracted to a Sephora/Macys/Dillards experience, but his fragrance tastes had definitely taken a major turn upward both in quality and price. So I now knew a little more of what Frank preferred. With that in mind, I had to pick out something that was still a step up, though not quite the scale or sticker price of a Creed. Enter Bond No 9′s I Love New York collection. Not a gourmand’s dream, but still far better than what he’d be seeing were he to not take the detour into a Saks Fifth Avenue location, and a slight step further in price to move to an eau de parfum.
Knowing that Guerlain Homme was too “green” for his tastes, Earth Day was out. Given his departure from ordinary and typical men’s scents, that eliminated For Him. And Marriage Equality as well as For All were both a bit soft, subtle and subdued, so he still wanted something sharp, lively and crisp. I Love New York Fathers edition was the choice, and sure enough, Frank again was pleased with both the fragrance and the price point wasn’t yet into the stratosphere.
Frank now admits that his fragrance tastes have changed greatly. But while he’s still not quite at the point of readiness for niche and the likes of Creed, he’s certainly graduated to the next stage and well into a more luxury scent. Given time, he’ll make the transition to other things he’ll enjoy. But so far he’s learned the two important points:
- “I don’t want to smell like everyone else.”
- “I know more about my fragrance tastes.”
And both are a good start. Feel free to share your comments and thoughts on the fragrances that changed your tastes from low-end to an upgrade.