Volume 91, Issue 95

Friday, March 27, 1998



Making sense of male scents

By Ian Ross
Gazette Staff

A half-naked man lying in the sand – this is sex appeal. Your typical hometown teenager, let's call him Tommy, hanging out with some of his friends – this is popularity. An attractive bottle of fragrance sitting on a man's dresser – this is cologne. And these are all marketing strategies cologne companies use as their number one line of defense to keep fellow competitors at bay and consumers at their every whiff.

"A lot of the advertising is towards image. Images draw people towards the scent," says Tanya Grey, public relations director at Calvin Klein fragrances. "We want them to relate to the product."

Cindy Joan, fragrance manager at The Bay in Galleria London, witnesses the impact of the campaigns on a regular basis. "All the guys want Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein," she explains. "The name has a lot to do with it. Image does influence – more for the younger men than for the older ones."

Jessica Winters, operations manager for Baywatch Fragrances, agrees that the main goal is to draw the consumer to the scent and hope the smell leaves a lasting impression.

To create that memorable moment, Baywatch spends months developing the right combination of oils to appeal to their target market. "We start off with testing the scent out with the people in the office and then move to focus groups to find just the right scent," Winters explains.

In the case of Calvin Klein's CK One and CK Be, "the focus was on the age group 19-25 – the university student," Grey says. She adds that with deep financial pockets, Calvin Klein used the focus groups to not only determine the scent, but also what packaging, advertising and image will best influence Generation X.

The result was a unisex cologne that wiped out initial inventories caused by an aggressive campaign of depicting simple people with simple clothing – the average student, instead of glamorous, unrealistic images.

Tony Bennett, an expert in the cologne industry, says with plenty of "flash for your cash" cologne advertising polluting their eyes, the student must learn to filter through the image to find a quality product. Bennett makes his suggestions available on a Web site named 'Answers from the Cologne Guy' (www.cologneguy.com), where he stresses that a cologne should be purchased on its merit of aroma and suitability.

"When your nose starts to get worn out from smelling a few fragrances, ask for coffee beans," he advises for making a selection in the retail market. "If the counter person doesn't have any, then you can either smell something plain (like a shirt) or just take a break for 10 minutes."

Another suggestion Bennett makes is to use blotter cards instead of 'air freshening' the whole store with spray from each bottle. According to the scentspert, the cards will give you an idea of the different scents available and narrow down your selection before spraying.

Joan reaffirms, "you should narrow it down to a field of fragrances before testing the scent and if you find something that you like, try it on.

"The smell is different once you have worn it for a period of time. Your body heat affects the scent and you have to be comfortable with it."

To Contact The Focus Department: gazfocus@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998