Have you experienced buying the same perfume for the last decade and realise that it is not the same when you smelled it? For example, if you buy a Diorissimo in today’s market, it is not the same lily of the valley perfume anymore. Yes, we hear your frustration.
This is because there are widespread perfume reformulations from different companies. A lot of perfumistas are disappointed at how successful fragrances are getting reformulated. They think that the quality of the fragrance has been jeopardised because of these perfume reformulations.
So what are the reasons behind perfume companies’ reformulation? This article will give you a few reasons why, sometimes, perfume houses have no choice but to reformulate certain fragrances.
The International Fragrance Association or IFRA decides on whether an ingredient is suited for popular consumption or not. IFRA represents all fragrance industry associations worldwide. Their main purpose is to promote the safe enjoyment of fragrances.
Sometimes, ingredients are found unsafe especially with older perfumes that required pre-made specialty bases. There were times that certain ingredients were found to act as allergens so they have no choice but to ban or restrict their use. IFRA’s decisions are the result of scientific research, so we know that these restrictions are not erroneous.
So when IFRA found out that oak moss may act as allergens when used in perfume, they have restricted its use. Oak moss can be found in fragrances like Chanel's No. 5 and Dior’s Miss Dior so they have reformulated these well-loved fragrances.
However, perfumistas were not happy with this decision. Some think that not all people are allergic to oak moss. Why not label a fragrance for potential allergens and not ban them altogether? Whatever IFRA’s reasons were, fragrance companies need to adhere with ingredient regulations. It is either that or they discontinue production of the fragrance.
Fragrance companies have the option not to adhere IFRA’s regulations. However, they will risk losing distribution and good standing with IFRA. In the end, it is best to comply with regulation than satisfy a few unhappy perfumistas.
Another major reason why fragrance companies reformulate their perfumes is to save money. When successful luxury brands are bought by large corporations, the primary goal is to trim the cost of production. Quality and sophistication are not the issues anymore. The brand should be a money-making machine. Of course, they can get away with it. Majority of the mass-produced buyers don’t go after the quality, they are after the brand name.
This happened when LVMH acquired Parfums Christian Dior. The popular perfume line is quite expensive to produce. What the large corporation did is to substitute real lavender and iris with cheaper synthetic. LVMH has cut production costs in order to increase profit margins.
To the trained nose of a perfumista, the reformulated perfume will smell differently. But the target market of these large corporations – the general public – will not even notice. These corporations have realised that the general public doesn’t buy J’Adore for the jasmine note in it. They buy the fragrance because it is Dior. As long as the buyers see the brand name, the large corporations will hit their sales target.
Perfumistas, however, are not enthusiastic about the compromise fragrance houses did. These pieces of art should not be reformulated for the sake of maximising profit. Reformulating a perfume in order to hit a sales target is like making a caprese salad with canola oil. It is edible but far from the mouth-watering salad you had in that small town outside of Florence. Putting sub-standard ingredients in creating a fragrance for the sake of profit takes the perfume from being a piece of art to a mass-produced product like a typical house wine.
Making Perfumes Relevant
Keeping them relevant in order to boost sales is another reason why perfume companies do reformulations. In order to meet the market demand, modernising a fragrance makes business sense. Take for example Dior’s Fahrenheit. This fragrance was originally released in the 80s. It has then gone through the process of reformulation in order to meet the market demand and to adhere to ingredient regulations.
Popular fragrances created years ago undergo reformulation in order to match recent fragrance tastes. Regardless of what some people say, many fragrances carry the DNA of the decade they were created in. For example, Knize Ten has that certain vibe of a fragrance from the 20s. The Azzaro pour Homme has that strong and loud appeal that one can associate with the 80s. These fragrances stand for something and represent an era that we can never go back to. They reflect trends, attitudes and principles of the time that they were created.
Large companies think that updating the feel and vibe of these outdated fragrances is essential in making these fragrances sell again. They need to appeal to today’s consumers in order to be profitable.
Perfumistas view perfume as an art. Reformulating a fragrance to make it more relevant is like repainting Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring wearing something made by Prada. Ridiculous, isn’t it? Then that is how Fragrance connoisseurs view perfume reformulation. There is no acceptable excuse for modernising timeless fragrance classics.
Not to make large companies look like complete demons, it is not their fault that a once-abundant natural material become scarce or extinct and they have to make do with an alternative. Or some materials like those derived from animals have been replaced with synthetic ones because of trade restrictions. It is also important to remember that perfumes rely on natural materials. These raw materials may have subtle variations each year. Like a crop of lavender grown from one part of the world might smell different to the lavender grown and harvested elsewhere.
These are just some of the reasons why your favourite perfume is not the same anymore. Many perfume companies deny that they have been reformulating perfumes. No company has come clean why they have changed some of their great fragrances. Perfumistas can sometimes forgive these companies for their reformulations, as long as their favourite perfumes don’t go out of the market. However, the denial of these perfume companies is what bothers long time perfume connoisseurs.