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  1. #1

    Default The Psychology Classroom Niche Fragrance Experiment

    As you may know, this month is my 10th anniversary on Basenotes. Celebrating with a new bottle of fragrance would be the normal way to celebrate. But even though that may still be in the cards, I decided to celebrate by doing a classroom experiment in a summer psychology class.

    The idea was simple, and in a similar fashion to the Chandler Burr Untitled series: Spritz a fragrance throughout the classroom until all the students could smell it without disclosing the name, price, or packaging. Just have them comment on the actual scent. Then, once everyone sniffs it, reveal the name, price, and packaging. The fragrance in question - an expensive niche, no less - was the latest addition to my collection, By Kilian's Flower of Immortality. (Despite what the directory says, this is a unisex fragrance.) The classroom was dominated by females.

    The comments among students before the name was revealed (personal comments in parentheses):
    • "Smells good." (Can't argue here.)
    • "Soapy - like clean." (Maybe.)
    • "Smells like aftershave." (I wonder which kind?)
    • "Smells like cinnamon." (Interestingly, cinnamon is not a note of this fragrance.)
    • "Smells fruity." (Peach is the dominant note.)
    • "Smells powdery." (Don't smell much powder, personally.)
    • "I can taste it!" (Must be the peach.)
    • "Not a real strong smell, so that's good." (All of the Asian Tales scents - this included - were not made to be strong.)


    After revealing the name and the $235 price tag:
    • "It's too expensive." (Wait until you see the $600 niches!)
    • "He just sprayed, like, $50 worth." (I only did about a dozen spritzes out of a 50 mL bottle.)
    • "Like vintage wine, or something." (Except it isn't sold at Costco.)
    • "Is it for men, women, or both?" (Both.)


    After showing off Kilian's signature lined keepsake box packaging:
    • "Wow!" (This classmate must like good packaging.)
    • "It IS a bottle of wine!" (From the same classmate with the "vintage wine" comment.)
    • "Like the packaging more than the smell." (Not just a common complaint among Basenoters regarding packaging.)
    • "Packaging doesn't fit the smell." (Maybe the reaction would be different if I brought in Straight to Heaven from the same house.)
    • "It comes with a KEY?" (Yes, it does.)


    Overall, the comments after showing off the name, price, and packaging were more dramatic than before it was revealed. And I am shocked that none of the students compared it to Bath & Body Works.

    So, that's the experiment in a nutshell. Your thoughts? What would you do differently, if anything?
    Celebrating 10 years on Basenotes - and smelling better than ever

    My mission statement: "I am not afraid to keep on living - I am not afraid to walk this world alone."

  2. #2

    Default Re: The Psychology Classroom Niche Fragrance Experiment

    Wonderful idea! I'm sure the students found the class fun.

    Next time, you can do an experiment where you divide the class in 2, have one half smell without disclosing first, have the others smell after disclosing price/packaging etc, and see whether there is a difference. Psychology of advertising etc.
    (and you can also use mouilettes).

    cacio

  3. #3
    hednic's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Psychology Classroom Niche Fragrance Experiment

    A very interesting experiment. Love the comments from the individuals both before and after.
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: The Psychology Classroom Niche Fragrance Experiment

    This was a great read! I think the type of thing the Fragrance Bros did with the "shootout" series of having a more expensive fragrance and then a few "clones" tested blindly by one of them (and that same one makes guesses as to which is which) is also a good idea. Definitely shows that price is not always indicative to quality or perception.
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  5. #5

    Default Re: The Psychology Classroom Niche Fragrance Experiment

    That was a great read. Good idea. The comments were very interesting. Thanks for posting it. Wonder what they would say about MKK or Secretions Magnifique.

    Cheers Rex
    My mom's great. I appreciate her sense of humor, patience and fondness for daytime drinking. :0)

  6. #6

    Default Re: The Psychology Classroom Niche Fragrance Experiment

    Very interesting. You should follow-up with a real good cheapie and see if quality/price is perceived as compared to the Killian.
    Is the juice worth the squeeze?

  7. #7

    Default Re: The Psychology Classroom Niche Fragrance Experiment

    Of course I knew it was your tenth anniversary - you are a big star! LOL. Anyway, I liked your experiment, as it demonstrated how ignorant people are of these complex concoctions. I was like that back in 2007 - could only perceive that kind of general impression.

  8. #8

    Default Re: The Psychology Classroom Niche Fragrance Experiment

    Cool experiment. Just like basenotes, people will always have different opinions about a particular fragrance which is a good thing.

  9. #9

    Default Re: The Psychology Classroom Niche Fragrance Experiment

    Cool test. I'd try to test individually to avoid group-think and try using two test strips of "similar" fragrances. One being the cheapie, the other being the more expensive version and see which people like more...I don't know maybe like Dirty English vs. Comme des Garcons 2 Man.
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  10. #10

    Default Re: The Psychology Classroom Niche Fragrance Experiment

    Quote Originally Posted by trex57 View Post
    Wonder what they would say about MKK or Secretions Magnifique.
    I have not smelled the latter, but I have smelled the former. You would not want to bring MKK into a small classroom - and especially one where the bathroom is literally next door like this room was.

    Quote Originally Posted by rynegne View Post
    I'd try to test individually to avoid group-think and try using two test strips of "similar" fragrances. One being the cheapie, the other being the more expensive version and see which people like more...I don't know maybe like Dirty English vs. Comme des Garcons 2 Man.
    I couldn't do that in this class due to space and time constraints. It's an 8-week, twice-a-week, 2 hr 50 min (with two 10-minute breaks) accelerated class.

    Quote Originally Posted by hednic View Post
    A very interesting experiment. Love the comments from the individuals both before and after.
    I expected some of the comments like "fruity", "too expensive", and "men/women/unisex". Most of the others were completely unexpected.
    Celebrating 10 years on Basenotes - and smelling better than ever

    My mission statement: "I am not afraid to keep on living - I am not afraid to walk this world alone."

  11. #11

    Default Re: The Psychology Classroom Niche Fragrance Experiment

    Very diverse reactions indeed- with a certain, undeniable behavioral, even statistic (if extrapolated to a wider population) value. It just shows what a fascinating social and even cultural phenomenon fragrance has started to become.

    It shows quite credibly how different fragrances are perceived within even smaller groups of people and even within their particular consumer/test person/subject habits. Furthermore, it shows how much marketing and even brand awareness, image etc. can influence observations, opinions, reactions towards a fragrance.

  12. #12

    Default Re: The Psychology Classroom Niche Fragrance Experiment

    Quote Originally Posted by cacio View Post
    Wonderful idea! I'm sure the students found the class fun.

    Next time, you can do an experiment where you divide the class in 2, have one half smell without disclosing first, have the others smell after disclosing price/packaging etc, and see whether there is a difference. Psychology of advertising etc.
    (and you can also use mouilettes).

    cacio
    Great idea. I believe I read a study a long time ago that people indeed are influenced by the price of wine -- that when they think it's an expensive wine they rate it more highly than if they think it's a cheaper wine.

    I'm sure that goes on with perfume, too.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: The Psychology Classroom Niche Fragrance Experiment

    Fun experiment!

    NXT round try the same fragrance on 2 separate groups. One shown a classy packaging and high price tag. Another shown a non-descript packaging with a dime store price tag. I suspect the comments may be different between the groups.

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