Monday, July 5, 2010

Smelly Facts: The Making of a Best-Seller

Have you ever wondered what it takes to make a best-selling perfume? The obvious answer should be a combination of quality (first and foremost one would argue), capturing the zeitgeist of the period of release and of course some sort of universal appeal. But of course as we perfume lovers well know, far from all best-selling perfumes comply with these or similar criteria. In fact, most of the time it is marketing that drives a best-seller, with unfortunate, deleterious consequences for the sensitive noses and sensibilities of connoiseurs who end up disparaging the mainstream market as a result. For me one such perfume whose continuing success leaves me rather bewildered is Dior's J'Adore, a veritable golden goose for the company. Countless women profess their adoration (ugh, forgive the accidental pun) for J'Adore, much to my dismay and confusion. Well, I seem to have come across an (at least partial) explanation for its success while studying for Consumer Psychology, one of my elective courses this year, and now that I've more time I finally get to share it with you. According to Hoyer & MacInnis (2008, p. 34) it is not uncommon for modern marketing efforts to be driven by neuroscience:

Neuroscientists are seeking to understand consumer behavior by looking at brain activity using functional resonance imaging (fMRI). To do this, they examine which parts of the brain become activated when consumers are engaging in activities such as making a decision, viewing an ad, or selecting an investment. For instance, Christian Dior used fMRI research to test consumer's reactions to music, colors, and ad placement when planning its highly successful introductory campaign for J'Adore perfume. Although neuroscience research raises concerns about manipulation, one advertising executive notes: "Observing brain activity and setting up models for behavior is not the same as forcing a brain into making a consumption decision."

Although I cannot with certaintly refute the validity of this claim without further information, one has to question the extent of its truthfulness. Specifically, in the event that marketing is heavily based on automatic brain responses, what sort of defense is left for us against it? What do you think? Considering that not every household currently contains a bottle of J'Adore it is clear that freedom of choice still remains secure, but with more technological advances in the future I foresee this ethical debate heating up.

To briefly return to one of my initial points regarding universal appeal in perfume, I found another interesting little tidbit elsewhere in the book (idem, p. 84). According to the authors "Only one smell is universally regarded as pleasant. No, it's not vanilla... It's cola! Considering this, I am surprised we've yet to come across a perfume with cola notes! Or have I missed something?

References: Hoyer, D. W. & MacInnis, D. J., 2008. Consumer Behavior. North Way: GB, South-Western, Cengage Learning

Emphasis in original text added by author.


rebella said...

Haha, a lot of scents smells like coke on me, even though they aren´t supposed to. :P

kjanicki said...

There is a cola perfume!

Anonymous said...

Welcome back! And congratulations on your results, Divina :-)

Awfully nice to be able to read you again meisje!


Zazie said...

How interesting.
I love the color palette of j'adore ad campaign: I think "gold" is just a perfect choice for depicting perfume.
But of course, upon smelling the juice, I was struck buy how generic and shampoo-like it smelled. And the bottle, I don't like at all.
The TV advertising is smart but does not make me want to rush and try the perfume.
So, I have been very surprised when I learnt what a commercial succes it was.
Just as the new Nina Ricci.
There are plenty of success stories I don't get. My brain must have serious flwas ;)!

Karin said...

There was a fragrance from the 70's called Ritz by Charles of the Ritz, and it smelled like cola to me! Have so wanted to find a bottle of it again so I can check my memory. Don't think it was marketed as a "cola" scent, though. Just my interpretation!

Linda said...

Dearest Divina!
How interesting! Yes indeed, it is amazing how popular J'Adore is - and of course there is nothing to dislike about it. But neither, to me, is it at all special, and I agree with the comments above in that I find the bottle tacky and the fragrance to be akin to that of shampoo. Thank you so much for this excellent review, and I'm going to try to find the book/paper "Consumer Behaviour" which is surely fascinating!

man perfume said...

Nice post. But it is very important that while preparing perfumes, the perfume designer shud have a 'sense' and 'taste' of what it wud make a lovely fragrance that wud sell.

Jennifer said...

I hear about scents having a "root beer" scent to them but often I don't smell that at all(good thing as I hate root beer)
I believe I tried this many years ago and liked but couldn't afford it then -perhaps Jadore has been reformulated?