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  1. #1

    Question Is ANYTHING capable of mainstream commercial success?

    To save you a massively long post, I'll try to make it short. Music is perhaps the only thing that I am more into than fragrance. Currently, there are two highly touted emerging artists in my favorite genre that are both sort of competing against each other. Naturally, the fans are essentially split between hating one/loving the other, and the same is no different for me and my friends. While one certainly is more "pop" , they both certainly have a ton of of crossover potential. The difference is, is that the one that is more "pop" has completely saturated the market with material, to the point that he is in at least 5 currently spun radio records, and the other (the one that I love) is approaching it far more conservative, and slow, lacking the extremely aggressive marketing and push that the other has. What I'm trying to do here, is draw parallels between the music industry and the fragrance industry. I'm essentially curious for your opinions on whether or not consumer tastes exist separately from marketing interests? In short, if you jam something down someones throat enough times, will it eventually become popular, or do consumers truly think and act mainly on individual opinion?
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  2. #2

    Default Re: Is ANYTHING capable of mainstream commercial success?

    In my opinion it's both, but not in equal portions, and it depends on the artist. There are almost totally manufactured acts, and almost totally independent artists, but how much of each is best looked at on a case by case basis. Rarely is anything wildly popular completely devoid of some kind of ability ( avoiding "talent" - the term is too loaded ), but an unadvertised and unpromoted act is usually an unheard of one, unless some very strange bit of luck is involved.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Is ANYTHING capable of mainstream commercial success?

    You're in a deep mood today mtgprox.

    I work in a business where we very much attempt to "jam something down people's throats" all the time and have the ability to do it. Overall, I would say, no. But you can get sampling of your product with marketing. If it's not worthwhile, word of mouth is going to kill you and the personal opinions will take over.

    Having said that, there are many products, fragrances, musicians etc that are "okay" at best. Jamming them down people's throats may make them more successful than a similar product that is just as average but not so heavily pushed.

    I can see where you're coming from with the music industry. Certainly many of the pop stars seem like a triumph of marketing.

    Not sure how applicable this is to scents. This group in here is not representative of the average fragrance consumer. That's for sure.

    Almost all scents that are put out and marketed to any degree are certainly going to be at least "average." Some of these will thrive and some won't.

    There are probably some examples of frags that were truly heinous and heavily marketed (Hai Karate comes to mind for me).

    One of my favorite quotes attributed to Steve Jobs:

    "People don't know what they want until you show it to them."
    Last edited by StylinLA; 13th June 2010 at 09:51 PM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Is ANYTHING capable of mainstream commercial success?

    Quote Originally Posted by StylinLA View Post

    "People don't know what they want until you show it to them."
    First off thanks for the replies guys, and yes I was in a deep mood today. In all honesty, I've been posting a little less lately (though I've been on the forums as much as before) because of some energy sapping personal stuff, but equally because I've been just so deeply entrenched in music right now. This emerging artist represents a breath of fresh air, if you will, in an industry that is slowly withering away, and it's had me really pumped up, not to mention I feel more emotion vested in his (the artist's) success, almost as a last chance hope of reinvigorating what I consider to be "good" music back into the mainstream.

    But, now on to the above quote. THIS, is pretty much what I've been thinking about. All of us would like to believe that we are picky consumers, but in all honesty, do all of us apply the exact same level of due-diligence to all of the other products we purchase that we do to fragrance? I'd guess not, at least not for me. And herein lies my conundrum. Since the vast majority of the fragrance buying public isn't trying to think too much about it, aren't we merely puppets at the hands of the powers that be? Could, I, as an executive not decide to release Secretions Magnifique as "Acqua di Gio Due" and make it the next ultra hit?

    It may sound a tad "Debbie Downer" but are we really, as a whole, capable of dictating what becomes popular and what isn't? And if not, why do certain things become popular and others not?
    Last edited by mtgprox05; 14th June 2010 at 01:35 AM.
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  5. #5

    Default Re: Is ANYTHING capable of mainstream commercial success?

    Quote Originally Posted by mtgprox05 View Post
    Could, I, as an executive not decide to release Secretions Magnifique as "Acqua di Gio Due" and make it the next ultra hit?
    No WAY!

    Could you as a record company exec turn Bjork into someone with the popularity of Britney Spears?

  6. #6

    Default Re: Is ANYTHING capable of mainstream commercial success?

    ergh- dupe post

    But as long as it's here...

    I work in marketing. Marketing is filled with people who want to believe they COULD make SM the next AdG.

    The success rate of any of them in reality is pretty grim.

    In my business, about 20% of new products succeed. They are all heavily marketed by people who "know what they're doing" to the tune of $millions. In the end, people's own opinions count most.
    Last edited by StylinLA; 14th June 2010 at 02:08 AM.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Is ANYTHING capable of mainstream commercial success?

    Quote Originally Posted by StylinLA View Post
    No WAY!

    Could you as a record company exec turn Bjork into someone with the popularity of Britney Spears?
    I don't know, could I? That's what I'm getting at. If I played Bjork 3 times an hour on every radio station, would it eventually catch on?
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    Granted, we've known each other for some time. It don't take a whole day to recognize sunshine. ~ Common Sense

  8. #8

    Default Re: Is ANYTHING capable of mainstream commercial success?

    Quote Originally Posted by mtgprox05 View Post
    I don't know, could I? That's what I'm getting at. If I played Bjork 3 times an hour on every radio station, would it eventually catch on?
    I'm voting no.

    The music industry and aspiring musicians would like to have you believe that that kind of airplay will make it work. If the product isn't there, and perhaps the argument could be made, is not fairly close to mainstream or the current norm, it's not going to happen. I can't site any recent Top 40 examples mtgprox, but I bet you know of some recent songs that flopped in spite of airplay. How many one hit wonders are out there?

    Radio stations very closely monitor what's getting requested and what's getting purchased. They can lay it out there, but they can't make anyone buy it or like it.

    My guess is you're pretty purist about music and think a lot of current popular music really stinks.

    In the frag industry, the designer scents are generally pretty safe. Not always, but many are. They put big bucks into developing a frag, they're going to put money behind launching it and marketing it. They need something that's not going to alienate anyone. Kouros would never be developed today by a design house.

    Many niche companies can go nuts - much like Bjork.
    Last edited by StylinLA; 14th June 2010 at 02:30 AM.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Is ANYTHING capable of mainstream commercial success?

    I think that, even though North America is known for being an "individualist" society, most people are scared to be themselves, and so they "go with the flow."

    Because of this, the average young citizen follows celebrity fashion, wears fragrances with nice marketing blurbs and listens to music that focuses on material possessions and ego-masturbation. It's the safe way out, requires little thought, and little to no effort.

    This eventually leads to "the majority" of people buying whatever is shoved down their throat (whether it's done blatantly or subconsciously).

    The beauty of the situation is that there will always be those people who go against trends, follow their own beat and refuse to be "sheeple". The ugly side of the coin is that these aforementioned "trend setters" are eventually noticed by large corporations, who steal their fashion style, musical taste and appreciation for art and capitalize on it by mass-producing and recycling it for the masses who can't decide for themselves what "cool" really is.

    Just a theory. But I think the music industry and the fragrance industry both work on these premises. In fact, Basenotes is like the pitchfork.com of the fragrance world. Because of certain members on BN, niche fragrances (which are like the equivalent of indie music) are slowly becoming so popular that soon enough, they'll no longer be niche (or indie for that matter)! This is a good thing, at least until people inevitably start ripping off the indie music/niche fragrance scenes and regurgitating cheap imitations to the masses for profit. That's when the whole cycle starts over again (see paragraph 4).
    Last edited by L'Aventurier; 14th June 2010 at 02:28 AM.
    Sales thread here

  10. #10

    Default Re: Is ANYTHING capable of mainstream commercial success?

    If you haven't read it, both of you might be interested in Malcolm Gladwell's TIPPING POINT. Great book that attacks this from a different perspective.
    i.e. How do various individuals influence what becomes "cool."

  11. #11

    Default Re: Is ANYTHING capable of mainstream commercial success?

    Quote Originally Posted by L'Aventurier View Post
    This is a good thing, at least until people inevitably start ripping off the indie music/niche fragrance scenes and regurgitating cheap imitations to the masses for profit.
    I think a variant of this has already happened in the limited-distribution lines from major houses like Chanel and Hermes.

    Quote Originally Posted by L'Aventurier View Post
    That's when the whole cycle starts over again (see paragraph 4).
    Mark my words - "artisanal" is the next "niche"!

  12. #12

    Default Re: Is ANYTHING capable of mainstream commercial success?

    Quote Originally Posted by mtgprox05 View Post
    I don't know, could I? That's what I'm getting at. If I played Bjork 3 times an hour on every radio station, would it eventually catch on?
    I think so. But for radio play, the song has to be catchy and easily accessible... If Bjork is too "out there" for the average citizen (which I think it is), it probably won't catch on.

    On the other hand, if you played really, really catchy and accessible crooner music all the time, you might set off a whole new trend of Frank Sinatra wannabes. (Michael Buble is currently working on this takeover as we speak). I don't think it matters what you play, as long as its catchy and doesn't scare people by exposing them to new or strange sounds and emotions.
    Sales thread here

  13. #13

    Default Re: Is ANYTHING capable of mainstream commercial success?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sugandaraja View Post
    Mark my words - "artisanal" is the next "niche"!
    Totally agree.

    Quote Originally Posted by StylinLA View Post
    If you haven't read it, both of you might be interested in Malcolm Gladwell's TIPPING POINT. Great book that attacks this from a different perspective.
    i.e. How do various individuals influence what becomes "cool."
    Onto my reading list Thx Stylin
    Sales thread here

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Is ANYTHING capable of mainstream commercial success?

    Quote Originally Posted by mtgprox05 View Post
    ... I'm essentially curious for your opinions on whether or not consumer tastes exist separately from marketing interests? In short, if you jam something down someones throat enough times, will it eventually become popular, or do consumers truly think and act mainly on individual opinion?
    If we would have the answer to the questions, believe me we would be millonaires. Actually the answer is "yes" and "no".

    Yes - massive distribution is key for succes.

    Now, provided whatever is being massively distributed is liked. If it is not, you have a flop. This also means that an excellent product with poor distribution will be, in the worst case scenario, a failure, or a limited succes at its best.

    Besides, there are patterns for success, Umberto Eco proved it through The Name of the Rose; that is why succesful cases are replicated... (and here comes the second part of the answer to your question, which is "no" ) eventually, the power of novelty is gone, and with it, interest in what is being offered. Moreover, regarding tastes, these are not universal, as Pierre Bourdieu showed. And they are very elusive.

    So, yes, distribution helps. As StylinLA says, marketers want to believe they can change attitudes through the change of beliefs. But it is not that easy - all Marketing texts clearly mention that the rate of failures for launches is quite high, affecting 80 % of all the goods released in a year.
    Last edited by Pollux; 14th June 2010 at 03:16 AM.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Is ANYTHING capable of mainstream commercial success?

    BTW, before anything gets played three times an hour on radio, many, many execs already have reason to believe there is a better than average chance the song has at least a fair chance at succeeding. I don't know the stats, but not everything makes it to number one or even the top 10 now does it?

    How many millions were spent on "New" Coke. How about Pepsi Clear. Remember those?

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Is ANYTHING capable of mainstream commercial success?

    I'd like to think mainly on individual opinion.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Is ANYTHING capable of mainstream commercial success?

    Warning: Epic TLDR post follows....



    On the subject of "Artisan", when I first got into the gourmet food business many many years ago, the company I work for sold its products as artisinal, because they actually were. We specialized in hand-made, very-limited-distribution niche products. "Artisinal" was a buzzword popularized in the Bay Area niche gourmet scene of the time, largely thanks to a book called "Italian Food Artisans", which featured the producers of some of the products we sold. We've had many laughs over the years watching "atisan" get attached to wider and wider products until it lost all meaning (a couple of years ago, Safeway, the huge grocery chain conglomerate, advertised their deli sandwiches as being made with "artisan bread" - that's when we knew it was over...)

    Af for distribution, with proper distribution, it's possible to make a hit out of most anything, provided it's at least industry-standard. Speaking mostly for America, in most areas, aside from shopping on the internet, it's simply impossible to purchase "niche" products. From CD's to pasta to cologne, thanks to big box stores, omnipresent chains, and distribution deals, the only things that make it most shelves are there thanks to a combination of marketing money spent, millions spent on brand recognition, and slotting fees demanded by stores for shelf space. Niche products not backed up by giant corporations could never afford the distribution and marketing required to be available everywhere, which is required to be popular.

    To put it in perfume terms, no matter how well-respected L'Air du Desert Marocain may be among more educated fragrance aficionados, you'll never see it at Macy's. Ever. Macy's doesn't have some perfume specialist trolling the internet looking for the next big thing. Their shelf space is paid for by LVMH, Coty, etc. and an individual perfumer like Tauer could never afford it. The quality of the fragrance is of no consequence, as long as basic quality standards are met (as stated before, no matter what a company spends on advertising or marketplace saturation, people are still smart enough to not buy something they think is bad). But as long as the quality is industry-standard, the rest is marketing and distribution.

    The end result of this mass-distribution dilemma is sort of a false sense of choice. For a long-winded example, there's an idea put out by Alice Waters about Denny's as a symbol of America. When you go to Denny's (America's ubiquitous diner chain), you get a giant menu, with many pages of pictures of all sorts of food. But if you look closely, you quickly realize that they have just a few (poor-quality) ingredients, arranged in tons of different combinations. You can get the same crappy frozen chicken breast on a sandwich, or a salad, or on pasta, or in a special chicken dinner. There are tons of choices, but it's all the same crap, albeit dressed up differently.

    This makes a brilliant metaphor for American politics, as well as the false sense of choice presented to the typical American consumer. The endlessly-changing perfume counters at Macy's could be seen as this, as well. Ooh, there's a new Michael Kors fruity floral for Mothers Day! It looks like more choice, but it's just that same crappy frozen chicken breast on a new plate.

    So can high-quality product still become a hit? Sure, given that it has the distribution and marketing behind it, and provided it's coming out of a giant company. That means that the real question is whether or not the current situation would even make it possible for a giant conglomerate to come up with a truly top-quality product.

    I would argue, sadly, that the answer is currently "no."

    The cost-per-bottle requirements for mainstream scents insures no quality ingredients can be used, while the current state of using corporate aroma chemical labs to generate scents ensures that no artists or artisans ever come in contact with the creation of a mainstream perfume, which is generated instead by a combination of teams of scientists driven by marketing executives and advertising specialists.

    That's not to say that it has to be this way. Some designers seem to be able to control the system well enough to demand a level of artistry in their scents that the rest don't get (Tom Ford comes to mind as an example).
    Has everyone checked out my Top 100 Blog??

  18. #18

    Default Re: Is ANYTHING capable of mainstream commercial success?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sugandaraja View Post
    I think a variant of this has already happened in the limited-distribution lines from major houses like Chanel and Hermes.



    Mark my words - "artisanal" is the next "niche"!
    Hey! Sometime last year, I proposed we start using the word artisinal instead of niche. Was I ahead of the curve?
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  19. #19

    Default Re: Is ANYTHING capable of mainstream commercial success?

    Quote Originally Posted by L'Aventurier View Post
    I think so. But for radio play, the song has to be catchy and easily accessible... If Bjork is too "out there" for the average citizen (which I think it is), it probably won't catch on.

    On the other hand, if you played really, really catchy and accessible crooner music all the time, you might set off a whole new trend of Frank Sinatra wannabes. (Michael Buble is currently working on this takeover as we speak). I don't think it matters what you play, as long as its catchy and doesn't scare people by exposing them to new or strange sounds and emotions.
    This is a good point, and partly why I often partake in the guilty pleasure that is modern pop radio. Perhaps Bjork wasn't the best example for my question, perhaps I could have asked it a different way. I suppose there will always be stuff that is just too far out there for the average consumer, but I guess if we focus on fringe goods. Stuff that bubbles underneath the mainstream that if given the right push could become huge.
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    Granted, we've known each other for some time. It don't take a whole day to recognize sunshine. ~ Common Sense

  20. #20

    Default Re: Is ANYTHING capable of mainstream commercial success?

    Quote Originally Posted by StylinLA View Post
    BTW, before anything gets played three times an hour on radio, many, many execs already have reason to believe there is a better than average chance the song has at least a fair chance at succeeding. I don't know the stats, but not everything makes it to number one or even the top 10 now does it?

    How many millions were spent on "New" Coke. How about Pepsi Clear. Remember those?
    Also a good point. But perhaps those were doomed to failure from the beginning due to poor marketing campaigns?

    My friends and I often take part in a little game where we listen to our favorite music (often times non-mainstream) and try to pick out songs that we think could succeed on the radio, sort of pretending to be a record executive. By now, I think we have a decent enough idea of what it takes to make a hit. Yet, maybe more now than ever, aside from the inherent "catchiness" that is required, things that I would never have guessed would become popular are being seemingly forced on us. And this is what got me thinking, why is the stuff that my friends and I deemed potentially hit-worthy, not being pushed, and other stuff which don't seem to be as much of a dead-wringer for hit status becoming huge?
    <><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> <><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

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    Granted, we've known each other for some time. It don't take a whole day to recognize sunshine. ~ Common Sense

  21. #21

    Default Re: Is ANYTHING capable of mainstream commercial success?

    Quote Originally Posted by rogalal View Post

    The end result of this mass-distribution dilemma is sort of a false sense of choice. For a long-winded example, there's an idea put out by Alice Waters about Denny's as a symbol of America. When you go to Denny's (America's ubiquitous diner chain), you get a giant menu, with many pages of pictures of all sorts of food. But if you look closely, you quickly realize that they have just a few (poor-quality) ingredients, arranged in tons of different combinations. You can get the same crappy frozen chicken breast on a sandwich, or a salad, or on pasta, or in a special chicken dinner. There are tons of choices, but it's all the same crap, albeit dressed up differently.
    Sort of like Taco Bell eh? This is a very interesting point though, and perhaps preludes the next evolution in the "market". We've already seen how poorly the music industry has adapted to the ever-changing market, album sales are down, music videos are all but irrelevant at this point. For the longest time most major industries have slowly waded the ebbs and flows of consumer demand, doing little to further the art or create anything unique and interesting. Regular people are becoming celebrities via sites like Youtube, and in all honesty, though we've sort of seen it bubbling for the longest time, I think the next major wave of consumer products will be consumer-produced. If major companies are unable to offer creativity to match how fast tastes are evolving, it will most likely come from the consumers themselves. I wouldn't be surprised to see some major designer offering custom-made perfumes at Macy's somewhere in the future.
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  22. #22

    Default Re: Is ANYTHING capable of mainstream commercial success?

    Of course , anything with the right amount of marketing $ and celebrity endorsement can become hugely succesful IMO . Its a pet hate of mine to be honest , quality and integrity seems to have gone by the by with many things these days

  23. #23

    Default Re: Is ANYTHING capable of mainstream commercial success?

    Quote Originally Posted by mtgprox05 View Post
    Also a good point. But perhaps those were doomed to failure from the beginning due to poor marketing campaigns?

    My friends and I often take part in a little game where we listen to our favorite music (often times non-mainstream) and try to pick out songs that we think could succeed on the radio, sort of pretending to be a record executive. By now, I think we have a decent enough idea of what it takes to make a hit. Yet, maybe more now than ever, aside from the inherent "catchiness" that is required, things that I would never have guessed would become popular are being seemingly forced on us. And this is what got me thinking, why is the stuff that my friends and I deemed potentially hit-worthy, not being pushed, and other stuff which don't seem to be as much of a dead-wringer for hit status becoming huge?
    One the chicken or egg questions here is this: If the non-mainstream songs you and your friends love had been introduced to you via heavy airplay on radio, would they still have the same appeal??? You want to say "yes of course." But perhaps not.

    If LDDM were available at every CVS, Walgreens and Macy's, would it have it's cult hit status? Hmmmm...

    One of my favorite scents is Domenico Caraceni 1913. It's only available through Lucky Scent. No one else I know has it, or has ever heard of it.

    And I unashamedly enjoy that aspect of it for sure. Part of the appeal of niche music or scents will always be that it's not commonly available.
    Last edited by StylinLA; 14th June 2010 at 06:30 PM.

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