Perfume – (In) conspicuous consumption? – The Concordian


If you spent $ 425 on a bottle of Baccarat Rouge 540 but didn’t receive a compliment, did it really happen?

I’ve never been someone who cared much about scents – I’ve probably owned three Bath & Body Works body sprays my whole teenage life, and since then I’ve been pretty much a shower girl. and exit. But, as others baked bread or practiced their French in the second half of the pandemic, I was starting to take a much less productive and much more expensive route.

Recently, I fell deeply into the expense hole that is perfume. Since we came across the #Perfumetok hashtag on TikTok, a new consumer-based hobby has taken hold of me, and I can’t say I’m crazy about it.

I largely blame TikTok for this (among many of my other ailments). The platform is nothing but amazing to sell you a very specific aesthetic goal over and over again. If Emelia, alias Perfume teacher, tells me that all I have to do to shine “fatal WomanThe energy is to wear Mugler’s Alien – well, she makes a good point.

This way, scents work like any other branded product – you buy them for the name and bottle as much as you buy for the perfume. According to Seduce, in some cases, the scent is actually developed taking into account the shape and color of the bottle even before the scent inside is formulated. Fabien Baron, the creator, photographer and director of Calvin Klein’s CK One perfume told Seduce that the image of a perfume is generally more important than the perfume itself in determining the success of a perfume launch.

In addition, the perfume industry being largely dominated by premium perfumeries (i.e. creators and niche houses) there is a lot of money to be made from a good branding strategy to accompany your product.

However, as a consumer, once you leave Sephora and actually start wearing the scent in your daily life, are you actually communicating this expensive purchase to someone else?

Sure, I might snort $ 166 By the Fireplace by Maison Margiela while walking down the street, but I admit my scent of nerdness isn’t the fault. Even when you’re wearing the most famous and luxurious scents, for most people, you’re just someone who smells great, not someone with $ 210 to throw at a bottle of Tom Ford‘s Tobacco Vanille. That being said, is perfume necessarily conspicuous consumption?

It’s hard to say. When i think of Why I love to buy perfume, it’s hard to find a distinct answer. If it was all about smelling great, I would surely be okay with buying essential oils from Amazon and calling it a day, right? But I don’t, I have to buy Glossier You.

It’s not even that I like Glossier as a business. I find that many of their makeup products are overpriced and underperforming, and their corporate governance has been marred by controversial. I know the millennial pink brand and Instagram full of amazingly “clean” shiny skin of cool influencers is just a marketing strategy. Still, I still paid US $ 60 for their Glossier You fragrance.

Despite the fact that maybe one in the hundreds knows that when I walk down the hall smelling a slight powdery and peppery musk, it’s actually because of Glossier, I keep going. to feel tend to wear it. And it’s more related to the name than to the scent itself.

So here the scent becomes both visible and understated – you are still influenced by the bottle and the marketing strategy, even when you are not advertising your purchase to anyone outside.

While I congratulate myself on being a conscious consumer, aware of branding strategies and the power of influencer marketing, this recent trip down the financial rabbit hole of perfume addiction has shown me that we are all one. insensitive to hype. But that won’t stop me from visiting now, will it?

Signature graphics by James Fay

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