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  1. #1

    Question Ethnicity and Scents

    For my 500th post, I wanted to post the following interesting question. Members please this is not posted for any controversy or meant to be racially motivated in any way. I just want to know why this happens.

    Most of you that have been here for a while, know my profession and also know my love for scents. I meet a lot of people from different ethnicity’s in this profession who like scents. Ninety percent of the ones I come across are NOT like BN members. BN members usually like a variety of scents and are really into them for the love of different scents. These ninety percent of people I am talking about are generally people that like to own just a couple of scents that last them for a year. They will either come in to replace a certain scent they already have, or sometimes look for something different.

    So here is the question when they are looking for a different scent:

    Why is it that a Hispanic person will be drawn to a certain scent which a Black person will not like at all? Or why is it that a Caucasian person will hate a certain scent and an Asian person will love it?

    What draws a person from a certain ethnicity to a certain type of fragrance ?

    Selling a new scent to someone in general is not easy. I know for a fact that if someone is looking for a new scent, if I cannot interest them in the first three scents I show them, I have lost the sale. Being in the business for a while, I have learnt to look at a person, and knowing their ethnicity, I will let them sample fragrances that I know they will like. If they pick up something that I know they won’t like, I will tell them not to try it. I hate to do that, because I really want them to experience different scents, but I also know that I have to do business, because three strikes and I am out. Of course I am not always right either .

    Ayala and if any other retailer is reading this, do you experience the same thing?
    Vijay"Maisonstinky"

  2. #2

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    Default Re: Ethnicity and Scents

    I'd say that it links to culture. While ethnicity and culture are not synonymous, there's enough commonality to pose it as at least a contributing factor.

    The other link is geography. Again, it's not a one-to-one but there's enough of an overlap to pose it as a contributor.

    From the culture link, you get cuisine. I would pose that your taste in smells is at least partially linked to the kinds of food you eat and in particular the taste and smell of it.

    From geography you get the local flora and fauna. Basically what things smell like where you grow up are a contributing factor.

    I certainly don't think this is all there is to it. Just two things that I think are pieces of it.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Ethnicity and Scents

    Vijay, I love the question. I hope it lasts.
    I'm thinking this may come more from heritage. Having an ethnicity that is rich in its own culture would probably lead to experiencing many similar foods, spices, festivities. Leading to many shared experiences. This may lead to the liking of many of the same things and I would have to believe this would lead to less opportunities to become diversified in other cultures foods, etc.
    Just like coffee and beer, scents can be an acquired taste so to speak. With a more limited spectrum of diversified experiences I could see how this could lead to a focused group of likes and dislikes.



    My friend used to own an ice cream shop and one day I asked him if he had noticed any patterns in any particular cultures and their ice cream choices. He was reluctant to tell me because the one he noticed was that his Mexican customers ( which is part of my heritage ) always had to have something strawberry in it. This really got me thinking. I didn't notice this particular behavior in me but I swear I think of it from time to time when I get ice cream.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Ethnicity and Scents

    Interesting thread Vijay!
    It suddenly made me think to a funny story about russian children from Chernobil the community where I'm grown in the countryside used to guest.
    When it came to choose a fruit to eat the always wanted to eat bananas, while italian children preferred other. When it was asked them why they preferred bananas they said because in their mind it was a rare tropical and expensive fruit (while here they are easily available and cheap) and they eaten it so few that they wanted to eat more and more! This example I think replies well to your question...
    Even if russian and italian children are both caucasian, they are grown in a different environment, hence they have different tastes.
    So, I guess, everyone looks for what he consider a familiar smell, but related to an idea of luxury and exclusiveness (again the bananas...). That's why maybe mexican customers prefer strawberry icecream!
    Last factor to consider regarding scents is how the body chem reacts to a smell. For example I've noticed that asiatic people tend to eat more spicy foods and so, to have a more intense body odor (this is not a rule, so hope asian people here don't take it bad...) but, again it's related to the environment. So I believe this is the key, and for sure it's not always easy in within three spizes to guess correctly the world around a person! So, be proud of you successes!

    P.S.: Congrats for your ****

  5. #5

    Default Re: Ethnicity and Scents

    Three great responses so far, this is what I was looking for. I always tried to come up with explanations of the question I posted in this thread.

    I did come up with (interestingly) that it had to do something with cuisine, and the way, or the aromas you are brought up around. Well if that is the case, then how come if a father and son come together, or a mother and daughter come together (Different age group/apparently same ethnicity), they never like the same thing, so I don't think cuisine could be the right answer.

    Come to think of it when a couple (Husband/wife)/(GF/BF)/ (Gay/Hetro) come together apparently the same age, different gender (same ethnicity), they like different things.

    In fact I dread ( I should not say this) it, when I see a couple walk in my establishment. I know I will go through a ringer and feel exhausted after they leave, because the hardest thing for me to do is to please both of them.

    If I do make a sale in these cases, I feel like Tarzan of the Jungle want to beat my chest and scream out "I DID IT, I PLEASED BOTH OF THEM !!!" .
    Vijay"Maisonstinky"

  6. #6

    Default Re: Ethnicity and Scents

    I’m sure ethnic preferences exist, but I think you are also carrying out a self-fulfilling prophecy here as well. You believe that different ethnicities like particular fragrances and then you consciously steer them towards the fragrance you believe they like. So you sell them on a fragrance and then chalk it up to your “fragrance-ethnicity theory” when their choice could have been more about your actions. I’m not calling you a bad person for this or anything, we all do it.

    Near the end of your initial post you said, “Of coarse I’m not always right either.” I bet when you are “right” the experience is more meaningful to you because it reinforces your theory. You may tend to forget about the instances when you’re “wrong” even though they probably happen almost as often as when you’re “right,” or when you are “right” the fragrance is universally liked, but you pay more attention to it when one particular ethnic group takes interest in the fragrance.

    College professors talk about these things when they talk about stereotypes (I don’t care who you are, we all do it!)

    Just out of curiosity, in your experience what fragrances match particular ethnicities? I find this interesting; I already wrote a post in which I said black people on my campus tend to wear Varvatos (I’m probably stereotyping.) I love talking about this stuff…

  7. #7

    narcus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ethnicity and Scents

    I believe background, family, and the wider net of contacts everybody has, determine our preferences and dislikes a lot.

    My country did away with Royalty a long time ago. Like so many others in the world I join the British, or Spaniards, Dutch occasionally on TV, celebrating parades, weddings, mourning separation and death. But in essence I strongly believe in equality of men, and get suspicious of even subtle power structures used to break the principle. Creeds advertising for what scent is worn by which celebrity is out of date and has an adverse effect on me. 'Polo' inflames, as did the ads for Habit R. showing fox hunt scenery. Maybe as an Englishman I would feel different about these things.

    Scents are very much linked to fashion. By choosing our residence, clothes, frags, travel destinations, automobiles etc. we want to define where we belong. A process we have to do for ourselves and for others if we want to be rated favorably by them. What we have in our palette is important. We judge people by it and likewise are rated by them. That awareness leads to omitting first, disliking in the end, certain colors or notes we call 'bad taste'.

    To be member of a wider group of people, or demonstrating independence, or being different, are basic forms of realizing yourself. They go together. Don't most of us split ourselves into income earners and spenders. Dow we wear the same things in both worlds? Obviously not! Next to clothes and hair-stile, fragrances are a vehicle to transport this duality in adjusting to the group and being ourselves.

    It is easier to wear nothing if you visit a nudist beach, or a crazy hat and cylinder in Ascot. Scentwise you can get away with almost anything as well as nothing! Finding the right scents is finding/staying with the persons you want to be with, also yourself!
    Last edited by narcus; 30th July 2006 at 09:55 AM.
    'Il mondo dei profumi è un universo senza limiti: una fraganza puo rievocare sensazioni, luoghi, persone o ancora condurre in uno spazio di nuove dimensioni emozionali' L. V.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Ethnicity and Scents

    Quote Originally Posted by xirdneh69
    I’m sure ethnic preferences exist, but I think you are also carrying out a self-fulfilling prophecy here as well. You believe that different ethnicities like particular fragrances and then you consciously steer them towards the fragrance you believe they like. So you sell them on a fragrance and then chalk it up to your “fragrance-ethnicity theory” when their choice could have been more about your actions. I’m not calling you a bad person for this or anything, we all do it.
    Xirdneh69, I know you are not calling me a bad person . I don't steer them to a fragrance I believe they will like, I steer them to a fragrance that I KNOW they will like, based on my experience.

    Quote Originally Posted by xirdneh69
    Near the end of your initial post you said, “Of coarse I’m not always right either.” I bet when you are “right” the experience is more meaningful to you because it reinforces your theory. You may tend to forget about the instances when you’re “wrong” even though they probably happen almost as often as when you’re “right,” or when you are “right” the fragrance is universally liked, but you pay more attention to it when one particular ethnic group takes interest in the fragrance.
    You are sooooo right about this .

    Quote Originally Posted by xirdneh69
    College professors talk about these things when they talk about stereotypes (I don’t care who you are, we all do it!)
    Unfortunately, yes we do consciously or subconsciously.

    Quote Originally Posted by xirdneh69
    Just out of curiosity, in your experience what fragrances match particular ethnicities? I find this interesting; I already wrote a post in which I said black people on my campus tend to wear Varvatos (I’m probably stereotyping.) I love talking about this stuff…
    I would rather not answer this, just my feeling that this may open up a can of worms. I will say this about John Varvatos, I have sold this more to White males, than Black males, go figure. So now do we drag in another factor in this equation -- i.e. LOCATION ?

    I will add another thing , I love it when a fragrance has universal appeal and is liked by everbody across the board, again we are talking about consumers in general, not just fragrance lovers like us. I will give you two that have been my best sellers last year:

    Lolita Lempicka for women

    Rochas Man .


    Narcus my friend, also want to comment on your post.
    Another excellent one. Thank you.
    Vijay"Maisonstinky"

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Ethnicity and Scents

    Its funny that you say Lolita Lempicka was one of your best sellers this year, because I was looking at it with my girlfriend last night at the drug store, drug stores around here have surprisingly extensive collections, and the SA said that for years they had it on clear out for 19.99 canadian for the 50ml bottle and they could sell it, then all of a sudden this year they marked it back up and not they can't keep it on the shelf.
    To your original question, the University I go to has made a push lately to bring in more international students, mostly from China and India, I've noticed that male students from those regions wear very heavy spicy scents, while domestic male students wear usually fresh scents.
    Can anyone remember love? It's like trying to summon up the smell of roses in a cellar. You might see a rose, but never the perfume.
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  10. #10

    Default Re: Ethnicity and Scents

    A lot of good points have been made here and I would just add that "ethnicity" as a category of identity is just one out of so many others, sich as social or educational stratum, sexual orientation, age group, father/mother or daughter/son roles etc. etc. And while ethnicity may be an extremely important category in US culture for a variety of reasons, it need not be so in other contexts. In the end, it is just another construction, like race, with no empirical basis in genetics or such, at best reified historically through the fervent belief in it.
    Now I do not want to question your empirical observations, but if you think about it, would not age or social position, for example, be equally strong factors in fragrance preference? And may not a Puerto Rican and a French college professor share a more similar taste e.g., than the Fench college professor and a French construction worker?

    Great thread! I think one can discuss many cultural phenomena through the lens of fragrances.
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  11. #11
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    Default Re: Ethnicity and Scents

    This is the first time I have heard that various ethnicities differ in the kind of scent they wear. One can say that Sandalwood/Ouds are more popular in the arab world, but this is an outdated notion - nowadays, the new generation dabbles in all kinds of scents. Even on basenotes there is a diverse group of people with varied wardrobes.
    -

  12. #12

    Default Re: Ethnicity and Scents

    Quote Originally Posted by zztopp
    This is the first time I have heard that various ethnicities differ in the kind of scent they wear. One can say that Sandalwood/Ouds are more popular in the arab world, but this is an outdated notion - nowadays, the new generation dabbles in all kinds of scents. Even on basenotes there is a diverse group of people with varied wardrobes.
    Agreed. Also i think that it really comes down to which fragrances are available for purchase in your city, and your personal preferences. Most people still just run out to the nearest mall and buy the newest "cologne du jour" or whatever smells good on a paper strip.


    KO
    Last edited by knightowl; 30th July 2006 at 10:47 PM.
    Are you not entertained??? Is this not why you are here??

  13. #13

    Default Re: Ethnicity and Scents

    Quote Originally Posted by knightowl
    Agreed. Also i think that it really comes down to which fragrances are available for purchase in your city, and your personal preferences. Most people still just run out to the nearest mall and buy the newest "cologne du jour" or whatever smells good on a paper strip.


    KO
    KO and Knightowl, I deal with this day in and day out, believe me I would not have asked this question if I did not go through this every day.

    Please remember, I put this question up coming from a retailer's point of view, not a consumer.

    Also I am not talking about Basenotes members, I am talking about the general/average consumer out there who are just out there to buy a scent because it is the "in" thing to do, not because of the love of fragrances.
    Vijay"Maisonstinky"

  14. #14

    Default Re: Ethnicity and Scents

    Interesting thread. I think it has to do with experience. You grow up in an environment of sights, sounds and smells. These become "normal" and comfortable. My exposure to oudh is a good example. When I first smelled Eastern fragrances with oudh they were not pleasant to me. They were outside of my comfort zone. As I spent time with them, I found myself liking them more and more. These scents are now some of my favorites.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Ethnicity and Scents

    While experience, culture and locale certainly influence our preferences, I have come to believe that biochemical individuality steers our destinies more than we acknowledge. Much of our individualism (fingerprints, DNA, gender) is determined before we take our first gasp of air (or sniff of fragrance). Identical twins (even those separated at birth and raised by different adoptive parents) usually harbor strikingly similar preferences. The notion of biological determinism may seem to feed the concept of racism, but I don't agree. The mathematics involved in the construction of each person's DNA is as random as the results of the spin of a roulette wheel. And while ancestral origins may give rise to DNA-restrictive roulette wheels (offering Asians fewer options for hair color, for example), the pairing of DNA strands still remains immensely diverse. There may, for a generation or more, be tendencies within a genetic group, but life seeks strength via diversity and mutation, so any and all tendencies are in a state of flux and elude pigeon-holing. I suspect that one day Vijay (or the maisonstinky shop owner of the year 2055) will be able to look at a patron's DNA hologram and steer them right to the frags that will appeal to them most. Until then, Vijay has to rely on the observational skills humans have evolved over the millenia and use age, sexual identity, culture, and ancestry to make his best guess.

    Sidebar: Our tongues are constructed differently
    On an episode of "Scientific American Frontiers," host Alan Alda's tongue was dyed blue to reveal the construction of its fungiform papillae. The point of this was to verify what had been observed about Alda's tolerance for hot peppers. He's in a class of people known as supertasters, which can be recognized by the structures on the surface of the tongue. This means his food choices are influenced by the tongue he had at birth. I can't help but believe our noses work in much the same way.
    http://www.pbs.org/saf/transcripts/transcript904.htm#2
    .
    In a world where 6 million people are added each month, every landscape matters.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Ethnicity and Scents

    Quote Originally Posted by Quarry
    Sidebar: Our tongues are constructed differently
    On an episode of "Scientific American Frontiers," host Alan Alda's tongue was dyed blue to reveal the construction of its fungiform papillae. The point of this was to verify what had been observed about Alda's tolerance for hot peppers. He's in a class of people known as supertasters, which can be recognized by the structures on the surface of the tongue. This means his food choices are influenced by the tongue he had at birth. I can't help but believe our noses work in much the same way.
    http://www.pbs.org/saf/transcripts/transcript904.htm#2
    .
    WOW !!! excellent post Quarry, thank you for sharing this. I have not looked at the link yet, but will do it soon.

    Thanks,
    Vijay"Maisonstinky"

  17. #17

    Default Re: Ethnicity and Scents

    Very very interesting post quarry. You have got me thinking about a whole lot of other things also and making connections.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Ethnicity and Scents

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnCase
    To your original question, the University I go to has made a push lately to bring in more international students, mostly from China and India, I've noticed that male students from those regions wear very heavy spicy scents, while domestic male students wear usually fresh scents.
    I'm Chinese and I HATE fresh scents and do enjoy the heavy spicy scents my fellow people seem to enjoy as well. But one of my best friends who's Indian wears nothing but Michael Jordan Cologne, Polo Blue and Claiborne Sport so there goes that hypothesis.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Ethnicity and Scents

    Here's another take on the subject. Apart from cultural 'comfort', the surroundings and the preference, its also budgetary - at least over here. I visit this perfumer often, and he doesn't have any citrus fragrances and just a couple of fresh sorts (Attars/perfume oils I mean). That is preference for non exotic smells by the locals (comfort zone?). Now, his take on the subject is, that people here will not purchase an expensive perfume oil simply because a) they can't afford it, or b) they don't feel that the cost is justified. A couple of dollars go a long way here.

    Also, on the cultural aspect, we're used to heavy/spicy perfumes, so people naturally prefer such perfume oils. As far as western (designer) perfumes are concerned, its way out of the budget for most people. Those who can afford them will probably buy anything that suits their fancy. Niches are unknown here, no one has heard of Creed or Montale or MPG etc.

    Next, people prefer 'heavy' perfumes that last. Its very hot most of the year, and even an attar will vanish in just a few hours, which says much. Florals are also very common. Champa, Rose, Jasmine will be as commonly used by men as by women. Heavier perfumes might be ouds etc, but are sparingly purchased due to the cost factor.

    My personal preference is for any perfume that smells good to me! Though, I must say, I'm not a huge fan of orientals. They smell ... well, they smell similar to stuff that's found in food I eat most of the time - clove, cinnamon, cardamom etc, so there's no attraction for me in such notes. Perfumes with citrus notes are very attractive for some reason, and I try and avoid the fresh ones, since they tend to smell very similar and boring.

    Thanks Vijay, for bringing up such an interesting topic!

  20. #20

    Default Re: Ethnicity and Scents

    This is a fun topic! I'm going to go out on a limb here ... I agree with others about culture, and environment, and what you're used to, or what kind of flowers and smells people grow up with, budget, temperature, etc.

    However, I'd guess that people of different ethnicities have different skin chemistry on average from people of another ethnicity, the same way they have different skin colour, and therefore certain things would tend to smell better on some skin types than others. Diet may also have something to do with it. If you eat a lot of curries, that affects your body chemistry and might mix well with some things, and not others. If you eat alot of garlic, it might be a whole other story. And if you eat alot of hamburgers...

    From friends and girlfriends, I think I can generalize that people of different races and ethnicities have different smells without cologne or perfume, whether it be diet or genetics or both, so that's my guess.

  21. #21

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    Default Re: Ethnicity and Scents

    Surprisingly, nobody mentioned smoking so far. From the days I smoked a lot I remember nice combinations of fragrance and tobacco, both in the air and on people! I suspect that many of the heavier male, and some female fragrances during the last century must have been created, and purchased, with cigarette smoke in the background! Most of them I still like as I did when I smoked. 'Tabac' on a non smoker lacks bitterness now! Also Chanels 'Cuir de Russie' (the perfume, my personal, sinful secret as a youngster) has not gained from staying abstinent (and getting older, haha), and good Old Spice seems to have lost all of its sweet, dark charm!

    From the little experience I have, I dare say that persons of the same household may smell different according to age, health, gender differences and activities they are engaged in (not talking of drinkers and smokers now). Should the adopted child, a partner from different ethnic origin be in a category of its own, then the difference of their body odor is less noticeable than between other categories I defined.

    I doubt that skin color determines smell. Do blondes and black haired caucasians smell different from each other if hair color is the major distinction we can make? I do believe that smell perception may be a capacity under the influence of genetic heritage. Preferences? I see that similar as musical talent and preferences in music. Rythm, sad tunes and happy ones - that seems to be pretty universal also.
    Last edited by narcus; 1st August 2006 at 08:37 AM.
    'Il mondo dei profumi è un universo senza limiti: una fraganza puo rievocare sensazioni, luoghi, persone o ancora condurre in uno spazio di nuove dimensioni emozionali' L. V.

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    Default Re: Ethnicity and Scents

    Quote Originally Posted by maisonstinky
    For my 500th post, I wanted to post the following interesting question. Members please this is not posted for any controversy or meant to be racially motivated in any way. I just want to know why this happens.

    Most of you that have been here for a while, know my profession and also know my love for scents. I meet a lot of people from different ethnicity’s in this profession who like scents. Ninety percent of the ones I come across are NOT like BN members. BN members usually like a variety of scents and are really into them for the love of different scents. These ninety percent of people I am talking about are generally people that like to own just a couple of scents that last them for a year. They will either come in to replace a certain scent they already have, or sometimes look for something different.

    So here is the question when they are looking for a different scent:

    Why is it that a Hispanic person will be drawn to a certain scent which a Black person will not like at all? Or why is it that a Caucasian person will hate a certain scent and an Asian person will love it?

    What draws a person from a certain ethnicity to a certain type of fragrance ?

    Selling a new scent to someone in general is not easy. I know for a fact that if someone is looking for a new scent, if I cannot interest them in the first three scents I show them, I have lost the sale. Being in the business for a while, I have learnt to look at a person, and knowing their ethnicity, I will let them sample fragrances that I know they will like. If they pick up something that I know they won’t like, I will tell them not to try it. I hate to do that, because I really want them to experience different scents, but I also know that I have to do business, because three strikes and I am out. Of course I am not always right either .

    Ayala and if any other retailer is reading this, do you experience the same thing?
    one time i was out shopping with my mom for one of her friends birthday presents... she was buying her a perfume... anyways we were testing a bunch out at the counter and my mom asked about a certain bottle, the SA whispered to us that its probably not worth it to try that one because its for "ladies of colour"... I think it was a lanvin product... cant really remember...

    anyways.. my take on the race/scent situation... and im gonna be pretty direct and honest here... the way i see it, (in the mainstream masses at least ok, so dont pm me about how your white and you love to dance in the street and wear serge lutens all day long) alot of american and canadian white people and north american asians are more on the introverted than the extroverted side, so I find that they stick with subtle citrusy scents, while a larger number of black and middle eastern / mediterranian and even spanish people living in north america are generally more prone to being extroverts and liking to project a more manly macho type image... so naturally they will go with scents like the original azzaro or something very masculine and reasonably strong, either that or they will choose something more gino-esque like adg. as far as white europeans, you dont see too many around here and ive only been there a few times.. so I can offer much of an opinion there... or on any of these races living outside of north america...

    these observations are also made about my age group over the past 5 years so lets say males 18-23.

  23. #23

    Default Re: Ethnicity and Scents

    For those in my ancestry and ethnic background, scent is very cultural. It signified you have arrived (no sillage pun intended, even though it could quite well be the case), and just downright a well part of good grooming. There has been a separation of classes of those who wear scents just like a lot of us--"old school/classic" and the contemporary.

    For the women back in the day, I remember smelling scents that were very pungent and heady--floral, oriental, and a handful of chypres. They were either Bal a Versailles, Oscar de la Renta, Giorgio, Beautiful, Opium, Youth Dew, Ciara, Charlie, Tresor, and *choke* anything Avon. Nowadays, a lot of women in my family wears anything Burberry for some reason, big plus with me if they wear Touch.

    For the men back in the day, it was Ho Hang, Hai Karate, JHL and anything Aramis for that matter. Polo and Giorgio Beverly Hills started permeating the air, and now basically it's Cool Water, AdG, and Polo Black.

    Bottom line the common denominator in all these scents is that they have presence (Polo Black too if you wear enough of it)!!

    My style??? The floral, oriental, chypre/fougere, and the fresh still remain, doesn't matter with the sillage, but longevity a must, but just making sure my scent is different from the rest of them, just to make sure that I am ME. My family gets kicks on what a bottle of Creed and Amouage costs! If I was evil, it would be fun just to spite them and wear Clive Christian and tell them what it costs. But, there's only so much entertainment to be gained from idle talk and gossip!

  24. #24

    Smile Re: Ethnicity and Scents

    I would have to agree. Spending part of my youth in africa I remember very well walking into an african church full of people and experiencing their "natural smell." Let me clarify, not bad smell, just characteristic of that people group. The funny thing is that when native africans come to europe or america I've generally heard that when they are asked what caucasians smell like to them, they answer that they smell like sour milk. Maybe too much milk in our diet perhaps?

    By the way, I havn't been around in a while. Actually, not for about 2 years. I'll have to introduce myself in another thread perhaps.

    -jk


    Quote Originally Posted by GAIVS IVLIVS CAESAR
    This is a fun topic! I'm going to go out on a limb here ... I agree with others about culture, and environment, and what you're used to, or what kind of flowers and smells people grow up with, budget, temperature, etc.

    However, I'd guess that people of different ethnicities have different skin chemistry on average from people of another ethnicity, the same way they have different skin colour, and therefore certain things would tend to smell better on some skin types than others. Diet may also have something to do with it. If you eat a lot of curries, that affects your body chemistry and might mix well with some things, and not others. If you eat alot of garlic, it might be a whole other story. And if you eat alot of hamburgers...

    From friends and girlfriends, I think I can generalize that people of different races and ethnicities have different smells without cologne or perfume, whether it be diet or genetics or both, so that's my guess.

  25. #25
    Paul G's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ethnicity and Scents

    Honestly I don't see it being much different from why Aqua di Gio is so popular amongst certain demographics, or any other fragrance that is popular with a different demographic. As much of the fragrances that people wear are due to smelling it on someone and being comfortable with it, that would explain a lot of why any demographic sticks to a certain scent. Keep in mind this doesn't really apply to us here as we're in this, for the most part, for far different reasons. Familiarity seems to be the number one compliment getter for me. I get far more compliments on Le Male and A*men, usually followed by "i love that!! my friend/ex boyfiriend wears that". Consequently, people wear what they're comfortable with.

  26. #26
    Serpent
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    Default Re: Ethnicity and Scents

    The only experience I've had with fragrance and ethnicity or race is that I've noticed when African-American women wear chypres (and I've known them to gravitate to this fragrance group more with more frequency than other racial/ethnic groups), the oakmoss note really stands out and has a unique richness and depth. For some reason, moss seems to compliment their skin's chemistry well.

  27. #27

    Smile Re: Ethnicity and Scents

    Quote Originally Posted by maisonstinky


    What draws a person from a certain ethnicity to a certain type of fragrance ?
    Vijay, this is a really interesting question. I realize that some may perceive it as slightly on the edge, but I understand your intentions and it's really no different than discussing why certain foods appeal to those from different backgrounds.

    Others here have suggested things I find true also, especially cuisine (so, so, so, important - what foods were imprinted on you early on and by the powerful emotional link of mom, grandma or someone else close to you who first offered them), local flora and environmental smells (the ocean, baked clay), smoking, economic status, perceived desirability of certain scents (heavily advertised or projecting a certain image or lifestyle) and more.

    But working with fragrant and culinary herbs, I've also noticed a difference with smells, taste and medications. Many medications, be they prescription or herbal, will affect body chemistry and how a fragrance blends on your skin, but also your own sense of smell and how you perceive it. Hormones work the same way and there were some fragrances I simply couldn't stand while pregnant. I'm sure this might also be true for those taking birth-control pills or other hormonal drugs. Even after pregnancy and ending nursing, I still notice some fragrances changes between now and my pre-motherhood days. I do not know if these will become permanent or eventually revert back. And I also don't know if these types of hormonal differences regarding fragrance are as marked in men too.

    Disease can also affect one's sense of smell, along with how fragrances react with your chemistry, and some people have chronic but undetected underlying disorders for years, before they are properly diagnosed. Dogs (with their highly developed sense of smell) have been used by some doctors to actually "smell" certain diseases on a person, and I believe their detection rate is fairly accurate. I don't know much about it and think the practice is still new; I've read only a little of the research. Some diseases tend to be more commonly found within certain ethnic groups or races, so perhaps this plays into it, even if only in a small way. I would imagine that all of these things combined together within one individual, will slightly alter a person's fragrance preferences.

    I totally agree with those above who said our tastes evolve. I used to hate bitter foods, but love most of them now. However, I still absolutely despise coffee, although can appreciate the aroma from freshly roasted beans. One sibling and our aunt is the same way, but my other siblings and relatives love coffee, and I mean serious coffee like espresso. Is this preference genetic or an acquired taste? There are plenty of herbs, foods and beverages that I used to not care for at all, now love, but more importantly, through repeated exposure, education and experimentation, have learned to appreciate and detect the subtle nuances of flavor and fragrance that previously eluded me. But without having someone in my life to introduce these things to me, and my being open to the experiences, I would have never done so.

    Lastly, there are questions within the scientific herb community about our race/ethnic background and the ability to safely eat/digest certain foods that are only native to the part of the world our ancestors came from (or to how our body reacts to their use as medicine). Meaning that some people can safely eat certain local foods, because their bodies have evolved to properly digest them, while other people, from another part of the world, might actually find the same foods a potential carcinogen or other health risk. As so many Americans have mixed ancestry from many parts of the world, it's a bit more difficult to ascertain what is totally safe for one to eat, which is why moderation is suggested. I always keep this in mind when I hear if research of a specific medicinal herb is said to be unaffective, and I want to know exactly who was included in the study - what gender, race and ethnic background, for this very reason.

    I wonder if this is also true with fragrance attraction - have we evolved to "safely" only desire those things that are unharmful to our bodies? Obviously, this is a stretch and I have absolutely no proof here, but just add it to the mix.

    Herb Lady
    Last edited by Herb_Lady; 2nd August 2006 at 06:21 PM.

  28. #28

    Default Re: Ethnicity and Scents

    Thank you Herb_lady for the wonderful comments.

    In fact I want to thank everyone for their input in helping me understand this better.

    Also want to thank everyone for keeping this thread clean, wonderful job everyone .
    Vijay"Maisonstinky"

  29. #29

    Default Re: Ethnicity and Scents

    All,

    I realize this is a broad statement, but I believe that economics (and therefore, invariably, ethnicity) also plays a role in scent selection. If you have the financial means, you have the opportunities to get exposed to different scents (though that has changed with the advent of the internet) but furthermore, you can also afford to buy different scents.

    If you grow up poor, the last thing on your mind is "dang, I wish I could try that Creed". You probably wouldn't have even heard of Creed, unless you were a member of this community.

    I think we ultimately choose what we are "raised" with, scentwise. Using music as an analogy, if you're well off, you can afford to go to the opera and get exposed to fantastic entertainment. If you're not well off, you're stuck with what is on the radio. Likewise, with food, if you have access to shrimp and caviar versus beans and rice, it makes a difference with your food tastes later as an adult.

    I say this because I am caught in somewhere in between; I come from a poor background trying to survive in New Mexico but now I live in Los Angeles (complete opposite) as a professional. I think it all depends on what you had access to growing up.

  30. #30

    Default Re: Ethnicity and Scents

    Well, I guess I'll add my two scents from my retail point of view. First, however, a little story.

    When I was selling perfume, I worked with a lady who was Latino, and we were both working the day we received our shipment of Azzaro Oynx. We both tested it out, as we were prone to doing, and she commented that it would be a good seller with Mexicans. I wasn't offended by this, more curious, and I asked her why she thought that. She wasn't sure but she then went on to prove it by showing it to every Latino that came in, and hey, they all liked it!

    Now, this could go one of two ways. Perhaps certain ethnicities have an inclination towards Oynx, or perhaps she was so certain of the answer that by showing people a certain fragrance first she skewed the conclusion. Personally, I agree with your sentiment that you generally lose the sale after three tests. There are people that are willing to try alot of things and still buy (much more on the woman's side) but for the most part people will buy or like within the first three. So did they like Oynx because it was the first they smelled, or because of some intrinsic quality that we don't quite understand?

    My take is that it depends on how you were brought up, because I'm not going to step into the nature side as I don't have any evidence to back up anything. I would think, however, that perhaps households that are fragrant, ie perhaps the parents cook fragrant meals, or use incense, or use heavy perfumes. My mother cooked lots of fragrant meals, with heavy spices or garlic, and liked scented candles and used a pretty heavy fragrance. I'm willing to bet this has a strong influence on why I like heavy, spicy orientals more so than a nice fresh scent. I love spicy food, I love complex flavored food; so is that by genetic or by upbringing?

    I'm not really sure the answer to any of it, but I will say that I never noticed while working in perfume an ethnic differences when it came to buying a scent. I noticed much more economic indications when it came to what scent was chosen much more so than anything ethnic.
    The pursuit of philosophy is the hope that there is more to life than we realize. By philosophy, however, we come to realize that in fact there is less to life than previously imagined.

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