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)

The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
Life and Style

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Going down the wrong road: parking fines are
nudging people into debt difficulties

Charges related to car parking rising and leading to serious money woes

Going down the wrong road: parking fines are nudging people into debt difficulties

Stacks of income: Drax is among the companies in Neil Woodford’s portfolio that he believes will pay strong dividends

Mark Dampier: Woodford’s young companies could be the stars of the future

Stacks of income: Drax is among the companies in Neil Woodford’s portfolio that he believes will pay strong dividends

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange

Simon Read: The markets might not be calm but you should be

Don't panic, it’s a wise idea to check investments regularly to ensure they are on target for your hoped-for returns

Only six per cent of the 13,000 new homes bought during Help to Buy’s first nine months were in London

Money Insider: Help to Buy must be boosted by building

With little or no wage growth being seen in the UK, increasing house-price inflation could see the number of first-time buyers slide further, unless there’s a new accelerated house building programme

House buyers can take their pick of more than 3,500 home loans, the most available since the financial crisis

Simon Read: Those cheap home loans may be built on shaky foundations

You should ignore the headline offers and trickery and work out the total cost of borrowing under different deals

Denise Leigh, who appeared in a production
of Rigoletto with Alan Opie, was left without an essential service

The opera singer, the broadband delay and why customers aren’t divas if they expect a good service

Denise Leigh, who appeared in a production of Rigoletto with Alan Opie, was left without an essential service

Problem debt adds £8bn cost to the economy

A charity has calculated the cost to us all of unmanageable debt – from lost productivity to the extra demands on the NHS

Payday loan stores are to face tougher regulations after moves proposed by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) call on more responsible lending

Calls for payday lenders to sign up to an officially recognised price comparison site

The regulators are at last tackling the high-profile payday lenders, but they appear to be ignoring the growing problem of internet loan firms

According to the research, only one in five customers trusts their energy company

Rap for energy firms won’t stop the rising prices

As the cold weather hits, the question of soaring bills will be felt by each of us at home

Nikki Galloway has enthusiastically embraced buying and selling over the internet

Selling goods online: The pros and cons

Nikki Galloway (above) sells jewellery via her own website as well as on Facebook, Amazon and Bouf

The city of Queenstown on the shores of Lake Wakatipu with the Remarkables mountain range in the background.

You can have it all: Asian stocks get on the dividend bandwagon

Queenstown on Lake Wakatipu in New Zealand. The country’s stock market was boosted last month on John Key’s re-election

Staff at work in the packet and parcel section of the Royal Mail's Swan Valley mail centre

Bargain hunter: Halfords’ zero-VAT child car seats are cheap and with a safety message

Royal Mail is cutting its small parcel charges from 20 October

Elderly people living in certain countries abroad are being denied pension rises

Anyone who moved to countries including Australia, Canada, South Africa and a 100 other places, have had their pensions frozen at the rate it was paid at when they left the country

Governor money plans to save clients time and cash with its online service

Simon Read: Relegate struggling funds from your plans

Every fund has good years and bad, but consistent underperformance over a number of years points to something more fundamental

Investments: Spot the difference and pick a fund that’s ready to go it alone

Nick Train thinks luxury fashion brand Burberry is one of the companies that has prospered in digital marketing

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Customer Service Executive / Inbound Customer Service Agent

    £18 - 23k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Customer Service Executiv...

    ASP.NET Web Developer / .NET Developer

    £60 - 65k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a ASP.NET Web Developer / ....

    Operational Risk Manager - Asset Management

    £60,000 - £80,000: Saxton Leigh: Our client is an leading Asset Manager based...

    Project Coordinator - 12 month contract

    £27000 - £32000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our large charity ...

    Day In a Page

    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

    The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
    Let's talk about loss

    We need to talk about loss

    Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album