Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Invent Your Scent at the Body Shop

I was at the Body Shop the other day, checking to see if there's anything new out, and there is. On the home fragrance oil front, I noticed two scents I hadn't before: their version of holiday pine, which I wasn't sure would work in my Christmas fragrance aesthetic, and chocolate orange. The chocolate orange is pleasant. I would have liked to see how it evaporated, though, and they had no scent strips at this particular Body Shop. Chocolate scents can be problematic: I've had a couple oils before that smelled initially like Milky Way or cocoa, but upon burning they collapsed into a smell that perfectly reproduced pipe tobacco. A very pleasant smell, but also a very unchocolatey smell. I never got Body Shop's old chocolate oil (except for their chocolate mint perfume oil once--it doesn't last long enough on the body, but it does pretty exactly reproduce the aroma of Thin Mints), but it always seemed to perform well in the store. I have high expectations for this chocolate orange oil, even if I don't buy it for myself. The bath & body products didn't smell as luxurious as the home fragrance oil. As for the pine, it was largely unremarkable, and I couldn't decide whether it was close enough to a Christmas-tree smell to merit using during the holidays. I'll have to smell it again, but usually when a scent doesn't register immediately, it's a bad sign.

When I finished looking at the oils, I didn't expect to find anything new, but I looked around anyway. Sure enough, there was something new, and I found it exciting. What I found was a new line from them called (I think) Invent Your Scent. It's nine light scents in different colors to match different moods. The idea is to mix together different fragrances to create your own unique one, or one to match your mood at the time. The marketing material even gives you a 'grid' that describes the 'character' of each of the color scents. Citrella, the yellow scent, is "innocent, sassy, free-spirit, seductive and zesty." Beleaf is "enchanting"--so is Velique. Both Aztique and Zanzibar are "wild." The card also lists some of their "favorite combinations," ones that don't immediately come to mind as complements. One of their choices is Beleaf (a leafy green one) with Amorito (a gourmandy one): they describe it as 'captivating,' noting that it's: "Graceful and irresistible, you'll be the focus of everyone's attention." They sell the different scents individually in small bottles (I think they were an ounce or less; I didn't think to check), or you can buy all nine in a packet of what amount to trial sizes. The later seems like the more prudent option if one is really going to blend them like the company would like.

First off I must say that the whole color thing reminds me of something that I think Clinique did back in the 80s, when they had a line of different color scents out with the same idea: to match a color to your mood or personality. I don't think the different colors had names, though: I think they were just called 'purple' and 'green,' etc. The line must not have done well, because it didn't last for long. I always liked the idea, however, and I remember being sad to see it go, because the character of those fragrances was different from perfume and cologne--it seemed lighter, more versatile, more something that regular scent wasn't.

The Body Shop scents seem to have the same light, unperfume character. I smelled all but Citrella, because it wasn't set out, and they all were pleasant, relatively light, naïve and unimposing. But they shouldn't be too imposing if they're intended to be mixed. My favorite far and away is Beleaf, because it has this great green-leaf, foliage smell that stays remakably consistent, although I thought I was detecting a geranium-like note as it dried down. I'll prolly buy that one, because I love that green foliage note. I also found that I liked Minteva--it opens with this fresh, salad-greens mint note that unfolds a little bit into that anise-like note that you sometimes smell in basil-type scents. Aztique is pretty generic: not very memorable, apparently, because I can only attempt to describe it by saying it's light floral-fruity. Amorito is a gourmandy scent: vanillic, maybe nutty and cocoa-y; a predictable inclusion. Velique didn't make much of an impression; it's described as floral and romantic. Zinzibar, described as spicy and chic, stays true to it's name: it's heavy on the ginger (which I find amusing, as ginger's scientific name is zingiber). Chymara is their musky/sexy scent, and Altaro is the oriental, and it struck me as woody and vanillic.

A few things I like about this line: I like the colorful marketing card and the different colors of the bottles. I like the name: Invent Your Scent. I like some of the language--with words like 'sassy' it's clearly targeting young women. I also like the idea of wearing a fragrance to match one's mood. I think it's a valid way to wear fragrance. (It's not the only one--you could wear one signature scent; you could wear scents strictly seasonally...) I rotate colognes according to my mood, although I usually like something more complex than what's in these, and more subtle (I find Cartier fragrances to be good 'moody' fragrances; they often reflect for me subtle shades of feeling, if that makes any sense; and if you're not into fragrances it surely doesn't). I find it interesting that the Body Shop actually TELLS the customer what fragrance fits which mood (on their 'grid')--I would think that people could figure that out on their own. I also like the fact that they give the customer blending suggestions. There's nothing about the line that leaps out at me as something I DON'T like--I think it's a really well put-together line for who it's targeting. It would be intriguing to see if they'd do a mens line, but they wouldn't, cux it likely wouldn't sell. Young men don't have the same attitudes toward fragrance as young women. Will the line succeed? I don't really think so. I get the feeling that part of the idea behind it is that people will buy more of this line because they want to mix and match and create 'unique' blends. I don't really see it. I could see people buying them for a little while, but not more than 2 and not for very long. Also, I don't think that when most people smell Beleaf, say, that they smell something 'innocent' or 'enchanting.' I think they're going to say 'That smells like leaves.' I think people are going to pick one or two of the fragrances they like and stick with those, if they buy the line at all. I can't see someone buying Amorito AND Beleaf, like the marketing card suggests. Those scents are very different and would seem to appeal to different people (then again, that's probably the point of recommending them together). Of course, that's just my 2 cents. I'd love to see the line succeed--I'd love to see what comes out of it.

And that's the fragrance beep for now.


Helena Handbasket said...

Great blog Ed! The "colored" fragrances you recall were actually by Prescriptives. I remember because the "Black" one was my favorite for many years afterwards. You're right, it is a great idea. PX's version was better executed although TBS's is more affordable.

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