Buying Perfume Online BEFORE Smelling It?

In this month's Cosmopolitan, deputy beauty editor, Jessica Matlin takes a closer look into the new way of buying perfume online - even before you smell it. The new trend of visual representations to evoke emotions and create a mood that inspires a fragrance purchase.

Excerpts from a fragrance editorial, Click...Then Sniff, in Cosmopolitan Magazine, November 2016 issue.

Jessica Matlin - Cosmopolitan Deputy Beauty Editor

Click... then Sniff

"Perfume is more personal than any cosmetic. Modern technology has made it possible to connect with your soul scent by tapping your screen."
-- Jessica Matlin, Deputy Beauty Editor Cosmopolitan | Read more @

New Fragrance Scent Stories Inspire Purchase

When cult fashion brand Maison Margiela launched Replica, its first fragrance collection, in the U.S., it was nearly impossible to smell it in a store. With the exception of select Margiela boutiques and Barneys stores, the collection was exclusive to Translation: You couldn't spray it before buying it. Ultimately, it didn't matter.

According to Alexandre Choueiri, president of international designer collections at L'Oreal USA, which licenses the fragrances, "People fell in love with the scents' stories online." Unlike most perfume packaging, Replica's wasn't decorative. Each box features a Pinterest-style photo: Beach Walk has a seascape, By the Fireplace, a roaring furnace. The shots, and many more, were on its website too - a contrast from the many sites that tend to rely on images of highly paid actresses and models to create the mood.

Maison Martin Margiela Replica Beach Walk

Maison Martin Margiela Replica Beach Walk

Five Paths to Your Next Favorite Scent...
A Memory
- Does it have vanilla? Rose? Does it matter? When a brand bottles one of your happiest memories, odds are you're going to love it. MAISON MARGIELA Replica Beach Walk, $125,

... The tactic isn't just savvy business, it's also grounded in science, says Howard Eichenbaum, PhD, a neuroscientist at Boston University. Both images and words travel through the brain's memory and emotion centers.... Language, however, has a longer journey. "This is why images of emotional events can be more powerful than reading about flowers and vanilla fields," says Eichenbaum. ... "Customers react to emotions - that don't really seek out or respond to [descriptions of] the notes," he says.

How We Shop for Fragrance

While a touch screen can't replicate the candy-shop allure of a department-store perfume counter, the business is ripe for a digital revolution, says Eric Korman, founder and CEO of Phlur, a new fragrance brand sold exclusively online.

"The way we shop for fragrance hasn't changes since World War II," he says. "When you walk into a department store, there's so much scent in the room that it's hard to smell anything." Sniffing a blotting card can give you an idea, but "it takes a minimum of two hours for a scent to fully develop," says Korman.... Your body heat causes the top notes to rise first, followed by the middle and base notes. Unlike what happens with paper, the heat and chemistry of your skin ultimately affects the end result. ...

The New Smell Test

Bucking convention, these new-school lines use technology to get to what is ultimately an emotional purchase.

On, each of the six scents has distinct imagery.... They even have their own Spotify soundtracks.... Pinrose, a San Francisco-based fragrance start-up, is also about zeroing in on photos you like in order to find a fragrance you'll love. Their pictorial heavy online quiz helps you discover your scent personality. ... The brand has Pinterest boards and 8tracks playlists for each of their fragrance personalities too.

Phlur Moab

Phlur Moab

Music - Brands like Phlur and Pinrose are all about creating cool vibes to match their cool scents. Each has its own personalized playlist. PHLUR Moab, $85,

Pinrose Tambourine Dreamer

Pinrose Tambourine Dreamer

A Quiz - Pick between colors, landscapes, even decorating schemes - they're clues to your new favorite Pinrose scent. PINROSE Tambourine Dreamer, $55,

This sort of personal touch is what's been missing from fragrance, says Douglas Little, founder of Heretic, a new fragrance brand created with natural ingredients. It may also be the reason the once-booming celebrity perfumecraze has slowed down. In 2015, prestige celebrity fragrance sales declined 31 percent from the prior year, according to market research company The NPD Group. "Customers are looking for real emotion or connection," says Little. ...

This fall, mainstream labels, like Rag & Bone and the ultimate blue-chip brand Ralph Lauren, are moving away from old tactics (fussy notes, a celebrity spokesperson, an OTT television spot) and instead using simple images to represent their new fragrance collections. ... You simply choose the visual mood that resonates with you. When it comes to fragrance, a picture is worth a thousand notes.

Ralph Lauren The Collection Fragrances

Ralph Lauren Collection Rose

A Dream World - The fragrance biz has always been about aspiration, but quiet imagery (rather than flashy celebrities) is more of the moment. RALPH LAUREN Collection Rose, $240,

Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium

Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium

Exclusivity - Black Opium was initially an internet exclusive: The brand aired online clips and sent samples in chic black envelopes. YVES SAINT LAURENT Black Opium, $115,

(Matlin, Jessica. "Beauty: Click...Then Sniff." Cosmopolitan Nov. 2016: 92-96)

Photo of Jessica Matlin © Cosmopolitan

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