Enhancing the retail experience for perfume buying

Are you the type of perfume buyer who likes a lot of help and guidance in store?

Or are you the type who likes to be left alone to meander and make your own decisions?

Do you find it helpful or a hindrance when sales staff bombard you with new perfume launches to sniff? Does it confuse and annoy you or make you relieved, that help is at hand?

A survey by HRC retail advisory showed that shoppers are increasingly moving away from the help of retail associates for help in shopping and turning more to social media are well as online advice from friends and families.  95% of shoppers want to be left alone to make their choices and 85% would like to use scanners in store themselves to check prices than ask a sales person.

The same report showed that shoppers want to receive promotional information directly to their smartphone and free wifi in store is classed as very important, especially to younger shoppers. Nowadays people would prefer to use the store’s own app to give recommendations than to ask a sales associate.  In store events were only seen as important to 19% of the survey population, though among generation Z participants the figure was 24%. In the UAE we are often bombarded by staff pushing us to ‘smell this’ or ‘try that’ in the big perfume stores. Personally, I find it very frustrating, it makes me feel almost afraid to set foot in the store because I will be pounced on by a sales associate pushing me to buy something I don’t like. I am frequently offered all the new launches from all the big brands but without asking anything about what I actually was looking for or like. Fragrance staff should ideally be asking questions about the preferences of a client – what do they already like and buy – in order to get an idea of the preferred fragrance types of the client.  It’s far more effective than ‘try this’ or ‘smell that’ approach.

In France a couple of years ago I visited NOSE, the Paris retail shop owned by Mark Buxton who is responsible for creating many of the famous designer brands in the world and some great niche perfumes too. The approach of his sales team was so refreshing – they asked some questions about my preferences and how I use my perfume, what sort of thing I was looking for.  They used a database set up in an iPad to enter the data and from that a shortlist of suitable fragrances emerged. A selection of perfumes sprayed onto perfume strips was brought out and we found the perfect one which was right up my street just from the first batch. If I had been approached in a different way in store and bombarded with countless perfume smelling strips, most of which would not have been my type, I doubt I would have succumbed so easily to the very expensive vanilla gourmand perfume purchase I made.  I guess that this is the way it used to be done in the days when perfumery really was seen as an exclusive art, not a mass industry fixed on quick sales – with a one size fits all approach.


Please, if any perfume retailers happen to read this, could they maybe consider rethinking their strategy for perfume sales in store. Let them train the sales staff to actually be knowledgeable about perfume types so they can advise clients properly. If a client says his favorite fragrance is Davidoff cool water then the sales person will hopefully understand what type of fragrance it is and be able to recommend several other suitable aquatic fragrances. In theory this should be far more effective than shoving the new designer launches into the clients noses and should increase the store’s perfume sales.

In some stores overseas its already possible to pick up shopping baskets marked with different colors according to whether the client wants assistance or not. The sales associate will know that they should not disturb clients who chose baskets with red do not disturb signs on them for example.True perfume aficionados such as myself are truly ready for retailers to rethink their approach so that we can all enjoy a much more pleasurable experience when buying our next perfume.

Leave a Reply