The Power of Perfume

Perfumes have a powerful impact, which should be expected as of the five senses scent has one of the most powerful impacts. Aromas, scents, colors, elaborate bottles, brands, packaging, marketing, psychology, feelings, inspiration, nostalgia…..this is the magic of perfumes. It’s the product everyone loves globally and can’t get enough of. We all have scents we like and enjoy buying. Perfumes have been around for thousands of years and over time we have more and more brands and scents available to purchase. So what defines what we buy?

Our fascination of perfume can stem from many factors. Many of us have first tried our perfumes or colognes from our parents. We often find the scents fascinating along with the colors and shapes of the different perfume and cologne bottles. Their intricate shapes and unique designs make them objects of excitement and interest. Each time we buy a perfume or are given a bottle of perfume we are intrigued and excited. The scent of the perfume can make us feel a certain way and transport us to a different place even reminding us of something from the past. Perfume is magical and powerful.

“A woman who doesn’t wear perfume has no future.” Coco Chanel

What is the difference between perfume and cologne?

“Many people assume that perfume is for women and cologne is for men, but to perfumers, the terms refer only to the concentration of the scents, not to those who wear them.” However due to marketing today although it may have the consistency of a perfume it will be marked as cologne if it is for a man. It-s simply a marketing tactic to entice men to buy a certain cologne and women to buy a certain perfume. In fact perfume can be used by both men and women, if you like a scent that is because you are enjoying the scent of those tones and notes in that perfume. There is really no such thing as a gender specific perfume. Some people like certain scents from lavender to rose to cinnamon to lemongrass to sandalwood to vanilla.   “Because men in the US were hesitant to wear perfume, marketers altered the meaning of the words and decided the word “cologne” would signify men’s fragrances, while “perfume” stood for women’s fragrances.”

This difference in concentration of oils and alcohol in the fragrance also distinguishes whether it is a pure perfume, eau de parfum, eau de toilette or eau de cologne. Pure perfume has the highest concentration of oils, followed by eau de parfum, eau de toilette and lastly eau de cologne.  “Perfumes with a higher fragrance concentration contain more perfume oils and less alcohol.“


Perfume Psychology

Perfume triggers the senses and it should be no surprise that there is a lot of psychology involved when we smell perfume scents, buy perfumes and the whole decision process. Each scent triggers a different feeling, response and reaction. “Odors are highly potent in affecting various domains of human psychological functioning, ranging from perception and mood to cognitive processes and behavior.”

Does a familiar scent ever take you back to a place or a memory? Well it should because perfumes can trigger and evoke memories. “Unlike memories created by your other senses, a study conducted by New York Academy of Sciences discovered that all your scent memories are formed within the first ten years of your life.” Perfumes can take you back to a time of your life when you remember a certain scent be that when you travelled somewhere, met somebody, a family member who used that perfume or a place that used that scent. This effect can be very pleasant and nostalgic.

Perfumes have been used for centuries around the world. “Numerous anthropological observations also point out that people of highly diverse cultures tend to manipulate their body odor in this way, suggesting that fragrance use is a near universal human phenomenon” Everybody enjoys certain scents and there is a perfume for everybody. What’s really interesting is that these scents go beyond psychological, they are your biological likes as well as what is more common in your society and culture.

“A woman’s perfume tells more about her than her handwriting. ”Christian Dior

Perfumes can affect us in different ways and there are many reasons that we buy perfume. Here’s some of the best reactions we can get from perfume:

Makes us feel good – Perfumes can make us feel better overall. They can play a role in making us feel content and happy. “Studies conducted at the Human Emotions Laboratory at Rutgers University found that when we smell floral scents, such as roses or lavender, it makes us happy — in fact people who smelled floral scents during those studies reported three times as many happy thoughts than before smelling flowers “ Different scents trigger us to feel happy just like each individual gets excited by the scent of different foods. Scents can alter our overall happiness and make us feel a certain way throughout the day.

Nostalgia and memories – Perfumes and fragrances remind us and take us back to people and places. “Certain odours can serve as strong reminders of past experience – more so than other sensory cues, such as sights or sounds.”  Some perfumes trigger a reminder of a past place, for example floral scents such as roses, orange blossoms, gardenias or carnations may take you back to a garden or flower field that you’ve visited.

Changes our mood – New and exciting scents can trigger excitement and joy. Perfumes can change our day’s mood by increasing our alertness, invigorating, uplifting our mood, relaxation and motivating us. Each individual has scents that they like and that make them feel a certain way. Some scents that can energize you could be lemon and peppermint, calm and relax you could be chamomile and lavender and to boost your alertness ginger or citrus.

Indulgence – Perfume is our own individual and private pleasure and indulgence. Perfumes enhance our own individual scent and are an item of indulgence and self-expression. We enjoy different scents and can truly indulge in the pleasures that are brought to us by our senses when we smell them.

Feeling of escape and a certain experience – Perfumes can take us to a different place and give u a feeling of escapism. Exotic scents can take us to exotic and faraway places where spices take over our senses while other fragrances can make us feel like we go on a tropical getaway where we experience tropical scents, palm trees and envision crystal clear waters. Certain experiences can also be felt using perfumes such as entering your own secret garden through floral scents such as lily, rose or whichever may be your preferred floral scent.

Individuality – Fragrances allow us to express our individuality in society by wearing the scents that we like With such a huge variety of perfumes, what we purchase really defines us. As our likes change and our mood changes our perfumes may change which really can be reflected in how we as people change and define our individuality. “The modern perfume shopper is not looking for an established perfume with which to identify, but looking for the scent – or bespoke or layered scents – that reflect their identity.” These individual scents are then perceived by others in society who can identify us.

Attraction, desire and seduction – Throughout time humanity has used perfume to attract and create a sense of desire not only for a partner but for ranking in society and appearance.  “As such, women wearing these types of perfumes instill greater sexual desire in the men surrounding them, and in return, boosting her own self-esteem as her feelings of being attractive and adorned grow.“ Perfumes may contain pheromones that can trigger this attraction to to another. “At the moment there are companies that devote time to the manufacture of perfume pheromones.” These scents not only attract others but make us feel more attractive, appealing and sexy. This can boost our self-confidence and overall well being.

Marketing can also play a big role in perfumes and psychology Marketers can further the effect of the perfume on an individual by:

Having the fragrance evoke a response – By advertisements demonstrating that you can Become sweet, erotic, sexy, feminine or masculine through a fragrance marketers can get more sales as consumers perceive perfumes in different ways through the use of media.

Creating attachment to a brand – By purchasing a certain brand we can feel like the marketers intend for us to feel. A refreshing sea-side perfume in a commercial can trigger a desire in us to feel that feeling and emotion which can further our experience and senses using that perfume.

Feeling closer to a celebrity – Celebrity fragrances have been around since the 50’s when famous faces started to represent perfumes. Celebrities brought out perfumes such as Cher in 1987. In 2002 Jennifer Lopez launched her first perfume Glow which saw soaring sales and has been followed by 27 other perfumes. “Elizabeth Taylor’s White Diamonds perfume remains the top-selling celebrity perfume in the world, according to a recent report by Euromonitor. Other fragrances that often remain in the top 10 include Sean Jean’s Unforgivable, Celine Dion, Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker, Britney Spears Curious, Glow by J.Lo and Fantasy by Britney Spears.” These celebrity perfumes not only offer fans a chance to feel more like their idol but celebrities to feel closer to their fans. Also we are all inspired by certain celebrities through their style, presence, talent, knowledge and inspiration. Our admiration for our idols can lead us to purchase celebrity perfumes to feel closer to them. Therefore it is to be expected that Britney Spear’s for example “has 13 fragrances to her name and in peak season (the run-up to Christmas) sells one every 15 seconds. She has put her name to the current world bestseller, Fantasy, and has netted an estimated £1billion ($1.5billion) for her “efforts”.”

Attractive packaging and designed bottle – The look of the bottle and the packaging design can play a role in deciding whether to go for one bottle or another. Marketers often create beautifully elaborate bottles or stylishly elegant bottles to entice consumers to choose their perfume over another. “When it comes to perfume bottles, it is the attention to detail that speaks to luxury, and for the scent business, packaging really can add value.”

Promotion, festive or tax-free indulgence – Often we purchase perfumes at the airport or during a special occasion as it is a festive indulgence or travel indulgence. Perfumes are often purchased to mark special events such as mother’s day or father’s day, a birthday, Valentine’s day or for a loved one. In a way you are giving somebody a scent that you’d like them to have be it a bouquet of flowers for a mother or rose petals for a partner.

“Odors have a power of persuasion stronger than that of words, appearances, emotions, or will. The persuasive power of an odor cannot be fended off, it enters into us like breath into our lungs, it fills us up, imbues us totally. There is no remedy for it.”

Patrick Suskind, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

Perfume sales statistics

Annual global perfume industry sales revenue was $28.95 billion in 2016

In a report on the fragrance and perfume industry conducted by Global Industry Analysts, Inc they predicted that it would be worth a whopping $45.6 billion by 2018

In a report by A.T. Kearney “four of the top 5 sellers in the higher-end “prestige” women’s fragrance market last year were created more than a decade earlier, including the then 94-year-old Chanel No. 5.”

Unisex Perfume demographics segment expected to project a higher growth rate over the forecast period

“Perfume puts the finishing touch to elegance – a detail that subtly underscores the look, an invisible extra that completes a man and a woman’s personality. Without it there is something missing.”Gianni Versace


Is the perfume market changing?


Perfume has been a part of human culture since the dawn of time and the future growth in the already multi-billion dollar market is expected. New perfumes are being sold through traditional methods as well as new forms such as online retailers where you can buy perfumes from well-known brands to niche brands to custom signature perfumes. Global trends show growing trends in the fragrances industry.

“Perfume is the key to our memories. “ The Perfume Garden