The new ways to pick and purchase perfume

The new ways to pick and purchase perfume

Perfume shopping has always been about hitting the department store and sifting through scented squares of cardboard. But now, thanks to technology and the niche fragrance trend, there are a bunch of other ways we can now choose and buy perfume. Check out some of our favourite fragrance developments below…

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Online only

You’d think it’s necessary to sniff a scent before purchasing it, right? Well, not anymore. Some fragrance brands are exclusively online. But, that’s where the fun comes in. Because no one can smell their scents, online brands have thought outside the box when it comes to expressing what their fragrances are all about. One brand, Phlur, allows you to explore each of their scents through an individualised Spotify soundtrack. Fashion brand Maison Margiela’s launched a series of fragrances almost exclusively online in the United States and used memories to capture their customers. Each fragrance in their Replica series had a memory and image attached to it, like By The Fireplace, Lazy Sunday Morning or Beach Walk. Part of the fragrance descriptions online are about the memory of the fragrance. For instance, ‘the memory’ for Replica’s Jazz Club is “deep leather armchairs. Cocktails and cigars. Light reflecting on a piano.” This kind of creativity taps into the sensory experience that fragrances provide – a useful tool for those who live too far away to do their perfume shopping in-store.

Fragrance finder tools

Technology took out some of the guesswork involved in picking a fragrance. There are plenty of tools online that can help you narrow down your preferences. Some, like The Perfume Society’s ( Virtual Fragrance Adviser gives you a list of six fragrances similar to one you already wear and love. Others, like The Body Shop Fragrance Finder ( ask personality-based questions to figure out where your preferences lie. The online Sephora Fragrance IQ quiz ( is a mix of what scents and sensory experiences you favour. And others, like the Boots Fragrance Finder ( ask you a mix of questions on scents, colours, architecture and scenery. So much fun and so helpful, too!

Immersive experiences

Have you ever just picked a perfume because the bottle was pretty? Or you knew the brand was nice? Same. But there’s some perfume stores that are trying to fight the influence of brands and bottles with blind scent testing. In New York, Mindy Yang opened Perfumarie, which is one of the stores that specialises in blind perfume shopping. The store is lined with 32 fragrance spouts, each with a different scent and no hint of brand, price or packaging. Customers test perfumes in numerical order, select a favourite and then get a sample vial. Sometimes the choices even surprise Mindy. “I have a friend who works in the industry, for an exquisite fragrance house,” she told The New York Times. “She picked the Pitbull [Pitbull for men cologne] as her favorite out of all of them. She couldn’t believe it when she found out. But then, that is what this place is all about.” If you’re also a fan of celebrity fragrances, beautyheaven loves Britney Spears Circus Fantasy and David Beckham Aqua Classic.

Blind perfume shopping isn’t the only immersive fragrance experience around. You can attend plenty of make-your-own perfume workshops or even, in a previous London pop-up store, customers were given a scent to match their personality based on how they behaved during different stages of the experience.

And for the future?

Given the increasing popularity of niche and individualised scents, Gill Smith, Managing Director at the The Perfume Shop, wouldn’t be surprised if we saw DNA testing brought into the world of fragrance. “Recently we’ve seen skin care embrace the possibilities that DNA testing can offer to personalised and bespoke products,” she said in an interview for The Perfume Shop. “I can see a similar approach for perfume in the future. Customers could bring in their DNA profile to store and our team could identify the scents that will most appeal to them and work with their skin. This made-to-measure approach is going to take bespoke from Savile Row and bring it to everyone.”

What do you think of these new processes for perfume shopping and perfume stores? How do you choose and purchase fragrances?

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