A crucial time for the subconscious emotion business: Several classics of the fragance industry are being given a presentational spring clean. Roger Tredre follows the scent of the perfect marketing ploy

The mistress of H G Wells reportedly found him irresistible because he smelt of honey. Before beginning to write, Guy de Maupassant would set before himself a bowl of ether and strawberries because the scent inspired him. Yehudi Menuhin once claimed that scent was more elusive than music, conjuring up all sorts of subconscious emotions.

This is a crucial time of year for the subconscious emotion business, otherwise known as the fragrance industry. In the two months up to Christmas, the perfume counters of the department stores traditionally make up to 50 per cent of their annual sales, as they market fantasies by the thousand.

New perfumes are launched every month, but the most recent phenomenon is the repackaging and relaunching of classic old names. The theory is that the long-established names have proved their worth over the years. All they need is a brisk presentational spring clean for the modern generation.

Polly Sellar, beauty editor of Vogue, says: 'It's a way of keeping the classic scents alive. Fragrance companies need to remind people that the old names are still as good as ever.'

It also saves them the heavy costs of researching, developing, and marketing a new product, which can run into tens of millions of pounds.

And so this Christmas sees the rebirth of Miss Dior, a fragrance first launched in 1947 when Christian Dior's New Look was the talk of the fashion world. Forty-five years on, the scent remains the same, but the black-and-white houndstooth box has been redesigned in white with houndstooth texture and pearl-grey trim, and the glass flacon is now embossed in houndstooth. Meanwhile, Parfums Christian Dior is spending a hefty 45m French francs ( pounds 5.6m) on advertising its revamped product in Europe alone.

Also relaunched recently is the ultra-expensive Joy de Jean Patou, first marketed in 1930. The new magazine advertising campaign depicts a young woman jumping for . . . well, joy. It is pitched directly at a younger customer, trying to rejuvenate the image of a fragrance traditionally bought by middle-aged women.

An even older perfume enjoying a new life is Soir de Paris. Launched in 1929, it was translated into English (Evening in Paris) for the British market - until this autumn, when the French name was restored, presumably in the belief that British women will find it that little bit more sophisticated.

Relaunches are not a guaranteed way of boosting sales. Within the trade, it is accepted that the recent revival of Vent Vert, a Balmain scent dating from 1947, was a mixed success. More encouraging was the relaunch of Y, Yves Saint Laurent's fragrance from 1964, repackaged in a white vellum box that is thought to impart a new sophistication to the product. The biggest relaunch planned for next year is expected to be Lanvin's 1927 Arpege.

If this sounds like an unsophisticated con trick, it is a remarkably effective one. Recent research has revealed the extent to which women (and men, for that matter) are seduced into buying a fragrance by the packaging and image. The smell itself often comes low on the list of priorities.

The research confirms what marketing executives in the pounds 240m-a-year industry have been saying for years: what consumers buy is not the scent but what it stands for. The woman who buys Joy believes that she is acquiring not simply a classic fragrance, but also a stake in a legend, an entry into a fantasy world of sophistication and elegance.

A survey team working in Munich and Gottingen, Germany, asked women to give their opinions about unidentified fragrances, then tested responses to exactly the same perfumes once the packaging and name had been identified. One unidentified scent was dubbed 'strong', 'overpowering' and 'sweet'. But when it was revealed as White Linen, a perfume that is sold in distinctive white-and-blue packaging, radically different reactions were recorded. Now this strong, overpowering scent was judged 'light' and 'unobtrusive'.

Likewise, the scent of Opium was considered to be far less 'sensual' when tested by itself than when accompanied by the deep red and purple packaging. And the researchers noted that approval ratings for Chanel No 5, Loulou and Ysatis shot up when the brand names were identified.

Why don't perfume companies ensure that scent and image marry more closely? This is precisely the direction in which the industry is heading. Ivor Shalofsky, director of market research at Firmenich, a Swiss firm, points out that the industry has been rather like the fashion business: 'Neither is characterised by a very systematic marketing approach. New fashions are created not as a response to the needs of the consumer, but rather from the ideas of designers.'

Altering the smell of a long-established scent is risky, but many perfume houses are doing precisely that. The strong lemon of Monsieur Balmain, a scent for men, was recently softened by adding a woody element. In 1990, Rochas revamped its celebrated Femme scent. The company called in Edmond Roudnitska, the 'nose' who devised the original fragrance in 1944, to update his creation for a modern woman. 'Nothing was subtracted,' said an insider at Rochas, 'but he tweaked the peach and plum top notes.' Femme doubled sales worldwide within a year.

Now, perfume researchers are trying to come to a closer understanding of the requirements of their customers. Groups of 'average' women are being invited to free-associate about their desires and fantasies. From these encounters, the fragrances of the future will evolve.

(Photographs and graphic omitted)

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Finacial products from our partners
Property search

Simon Read: The timeshare battle intensifies with Macdonald Resorts

An action group of disaffected Macdonald owners are now readying for their own legal battle with the company

Debt problems: How you can nip your money problems in the bud and sleep easy at night

Money worries are keeping more than 7 million of us awake at night

Venture Capital Trusts: You will love the tax-free income

To encourage investment in this higher-risk area, the Government offers generous tax relief to those who invest in new issues of VCT shares

Runaway debt: It's the new norm for university students now

StepChange, the debt charity, has revealed that students who called its helpline in 2013 had racked up average debts of £7,818

Michael's crisis could have 'dragged on for a long time', says CPA adviser Ruth Millward, right

More than 300,000 adults are too deeply in debt to apply for bankruptcy

Charities are urging the Government to offer a cheaper alternative for people in financial difficulty

Scottish independence: How will kilt-edged stocks fare?

Scottish companies were caned when the separatists surged in the polls. Is this the future, asks Simon Read, and would they be any better together?

Two million first-time buyers are locked out

The drought in lending to people with low deposits has created legions of frustrated buyers, writes Emma Lunn

Leaving money to charity in your will could help reduce the tax bill for your loved ones

Next week has been designated "remember a charity in your will week", to put the focus squarely on the subject
Money is slipping through our fingers: the UK is falling behind other countries in the amount we put away

How to save money: UK is crashing down the European league table for putting money away

The UK has slipped to 11th in the latest European league table of savers. Rob Griffin checks out the best options

Energy firms found guilty of bad practice could have licences revoked under Labour government

Caroline Flint, the shadow energy secretary, says a Labour government would create a new energy regulator

A student's guide to financial survival: You don't have to drown in debt at university

Fresh from A-level delight, the moment does not have to be soured by students resigning themselves to thousands of pounds worth of debt in three years' time. Rob Griffin sees how to pass the university challenge

'Dismal' eurozone data sparks concerns

European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi is under pressure to launch promised stimulus before the EU slides further
Love but not marriage: property is one area where cohabiting couples are in danger of losing out

How couples can protect their financial interests when cohabiting

People who simply live together cannot assume they have the same rights to each other's assets as spouses or civil partners. Michelle McGagh sees how they can protect their financial interests
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...

    Trust Accountant - Kent

    NEGOTIABLE: Austen Lloyd: TRUST ACCOUNTANT - KENTIf you are a Chartered Accou...

    Graduate Recruitment Consultant - 2013/14 Grads - No Exp Needed

    £18000 - £20000 per annum + OTE £30000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

    Law Costs

    Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - Law Costs Draftsperson - NICHE...

    Day In a Page

    Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

    Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

    A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
    Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

    Time to stop running

    At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
    An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

    An app for the amorous

    Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

    Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
    Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

    Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

    After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
    She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

    She's having a laugh

    Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

    Let there be light

    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
    Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

    Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

    Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
    Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

    A look to the future

    It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
    The 10 best bedspreads

    The 10 best bedspreads

    Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
    Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

    Arsenal vs Galatasaray

    Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
    Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence