What influences your decision when you’re selecting a new fragrance? Maybe it reminds you of a lovely moment, person or place from your past? Maybe you like what the brand stands for or the celebrity who’s endorsing it? The reason for selecting a particular fragrance can be simple or complex – but one thing is for sure, there are many factors that play a role in helping you decide what new perfume to wear.
Of course, perfumers all over the world spend a lot of time and money figuring out what these reasons are with the hopes of being able to capture more of the market share. More often than not, they'll go through tons of research and even more product testing - all of them asking the same questions and coming up with similar answers.
Two Stanford Business School classmates have gone down a different route than the bigwigs when it comes to figuring out why people buy certain fragrances. Erika Shumate and Christine Luby are the masterminds behind Pinrose, an online fragrance company. At first glance, it seems like a peculiar idea - can you buy a fragrance when you're not able to use your sense of smell to test out the product because it's online?
But of course, why not? Shumate and Luby have come up with a revolutionary idea - your favourite colour influences your choice in fragrance.
We often forget to acknowledge that senses do not work independently of each other. A fond experience often incorporates most, if not all, of your senses. For example, the scent of caramel popcorn may cause you to remember the buttery sweet flavour on your tongue, the lights and smiles of the carnival you ate it at, the feeling of the sun on your back and the sound of the fun rides. This is why it's not too incredulous to believe that we use different senses other than our sense of smell to experience a fragrance.
Mind you, the connection between sight and smell in the fragrance market isn't a new concept. That's why perfumes aren't sold in a plain, standard-issue container - perfume companies agree that the way a bottle looks is one of the important selling features of a fragrance. The colour of a perfume is also important. In fact, perfumers will often include dye in a fragrance to make it look a certain way. Jose Luis Caivano, an Argentine professor who specialises in colour theory, sums it up nicely: "The associations aroused by colours, such as those of relating green with envy, red with passion, black with death, yellow with cowardice, and blue with loyalty, are very well-known. Of course, these associations totally depend on the social and cultural context, but this does not invalidate the fact that colours are effectively functioning as signs, that there are processes in which colours signify different things.”
Although nearly all successful perfume companies incorporate visuals into their product, Primrose does it a bit differently - they were able to match different colour and sound properties to particular scents. Their product testing uncovered that by using certain auditory and visual prompts, they can actually predict one's scent preference with a 75% accuracy.
The Pinrose perfume experience is both fun and innovative. In 'Scent Finder', you are asked a series of questions which use sound, texture and colours to determine the top three fragrances for you, and you can try them before you buy. It's an interactive experience indeed, being able to use your preferences to narrow down the type of fragrance that truly represents you.
So, the next time you are in a department store being overwhelmed by the multiple fragrances and the pushiness of the sales staff, utilise your visual senses to enjoy the experience and pick a fragrance that is more like you.