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Printers' Ink Monthly - Volume 2 - Page 112, 1920:
They appeal indirectly to the sense of smell by their open gratification of the sense of sight. A finely wrought line design and the motif of three dancing maidens give this box of tinted Baccarat glass a luxury look that suggests forcefully the quality of face powder it contains. Then the woman shopping desires to buy a few yards of silk she is not only shown the bolt of silk but also is allowed to take it in her hands to feel the softness of the fabric's texture. She takes it to the light to get the full value of the play and interplay of lights on the fine coloring. For the clerk who is selling her silk knows that the desire for purchase can be best stimulated when she has for the moment been given possession of it.
The manufacturer of a packaged commodity however is faced with a different set of conditions. Silk on display tells its whole story of quality texture color and durability to the inquiring eyes and fingers of the experienced buyer But the product in a package is hidden from eyes and fingers. And because of this there arises a problem which every manufacturer of packaged goods must solve in order to gain anywhere near a satisfactory initial sale for his product. The package must by its outward aspect convey to the prospective buyer a forceful impression of the characteristics of the product which are most to be desired by the consumer. This is true in a varying degree of every packaged commodity from breakfast food to perfumes.
But the seller of perfumes or of any product where sampling is an impossibility has his selling problem still further complicated. Here then is the story of how one manufacturer of perfumes overcomes his difficulties and packs his product in packages or bottles which do give expression to the inherent qualities of the perfume.
The distributor of perfumes faces a far more difficult problem than the seller of silks or shoes or hats. While perfume ultimately gratifies the sense of smell it is not possible except in rare instances for its seller to allow the purchaser to gratify this sense. Perfume in an uncorked bottle for sampling will evaporate rapidly and the sales of perfumes are usually not large enough to allow the retailer to have sample bottles. This is especially true when there are many different brands and the sales on one brand at a particular time are comparatively small.
To be sure some perfumers have attempted to use scented strips of paper to give the value of the odor of their product but this has never proved satisfactory particularly with high grade perfumes. Therefore the seller of perfumes must depend not upon the sense of smell to get his sales appeal but upon an allied sense that of sight. In other words he does not make his initial sale on the strength of the qualities which will eventually cause the purchaser to return to buy a second bottle. And so he must gratify the sense of sight in the same way as he would the sense of smell were sampling possible. High grade perfumes are essentially luxury products and so their package must have for the eye a luxury appeal. So close must be the alliance between the appeals to sense and sight that the buyer is almost unconscious of the fact that he is not buying the product for the qualities he desires but the visual suggestion of what they are.
D'Orsay perfumes illustrate admirably how one distributor is gaining initial sales in a highly competitive market where direct sampling is out of the question and is making his sales by the appeal to a sense quite different from the one which will be gratified eventually.
The perfume market has certain features which should be studied in order that a better understanding of its problems can be gained. There are many brands of perfumes being sold and each has its distinctive package its own angle of sales appeal. And many are backed by heavy advertising appropriations. The package of a successful seller in this market then must have exceptional qualities to single it out from the host of its competitors. Also perfumes are sold to a much larger extent than at first might be thought to persons who are not to be the users. Of course many women buy perfumes and toilet waters for their own use. But much perfume is bought by men for women. Therefore while the woman always exerts her influence either directly or indirectly upon the sales the package appeal must hew to that fine line where meet masculine and feminine mind.
Turn for a moment to one of the d'Orsay bottles. From a wide almost square base it tapers quickly and gracefully to a narrow neck and cork. And there perches the carefully carved figure of a tiny elephant whose attitude is piquantly impudent. This bottle will certainly combat successfully for attention with the bottles that may surround it in the druggist's show case. It is unique yet not eccentric. It is striking without being freakish. And it will appeal to the woman because it will add a refreshing touch to her dressing table.
Another bottle modeled of Baccarat glass is tall almost sturdy in its simplicity But any harshness is defeated by the four graceful figures of Greek maidens that stand at the corners seemingly upholding the neck of the bottle. For a moment they bring a memory of the caryatids of the Erectheum on the Acropolis in Athens. Totally different from the other bottle this one is appealing in its dignity as the other is in its daring.
It is packed in a case of rich brown leather lined with a dark red satin. Both bottle and case will harmonize successfully with any surroundings of quiet luxury and to such surroundings do they make their appeal for trial .In competition for attention they will win on the merits of pure chaste beauty.
The scent Chevalier d'Orsay which has been promoted most heavily in the advertising is put up in a bottle that more closely approximates the conventional container. Square with a faceted stopper it is made of a fine clear glass so modelled as to escape severity. This bottle will appeal to more conservative tastes but it does not lack attention value and appeal to all users.
As a novelty the company has devised a small leather pocket case which at first glimpse appears to be the container for a small watch But inside is a tiny round bottle of Chevalier d'Orsay.. Bottle and case can be dropped into the vanity case and are not too large for the purse or a small pocket. The woman of refinement uses little perfume and in this handy container she can carry an ample supply for her needs on a short journey. Here the appeal is twofold both of novelty and of utility. Yet the minute size gives the bottle and case an added attention value which will single them out for inspection though they be surrounded and dwarfed by larger and more imposing packages.
This then is the packing of the perfumes. Distinctive original at times almost daring yet always appealing to the woman who must see the bottle on her dressing table every day and who wishes a bottle that will neither tire nor jar her sense of the appropriate. On the other hand the man who buys perfume for her will see in these bottles fitting accessories for her dressing table. They are different without being blatantly unique.
The toilet waters which come in the same scents as the perfumes are all packed in one style of bottle. This is of frosted glass- tall, flat with, a slight bulge at the bottom which dwindles away lightly to the cork. The lines are graceful and the opaque coloring attractive so that this bottle is made a fitting companion for the perfumes .
.The face powders are for the most part packed in square containers. But for the Poudre Chevalier d'Orsay, there is a special box of rare beauty. It is round and made of glass through which runs the tint of rose which suggests the odor of the powder. A wrought line design is carved the edge of the box. On the cover another design whose motif is dancing maidens. This is a powder box de luxe.
For the buyer who wishes a complete assortment of d'Orsay products powders perfume toilet waters and soap in one scent the company has fashioned a combination case.
These cases are made to present the same sales appeal as the bottles. They are covered with leather or velvet and lined with rich satin or silk - ideal materials for display purposes. The various products are packed in harmonizing containers of fine frosted glass which has a definite soft brilliance.
Thus the whole line is packed in containers of beauty and charm. They obviate sampling because they make a forceful appeal to the sense of smell through their open gratification of the allied sense that of sight. Any one of these containers may be set down in the midst of its competitors and yet be sure of the initial sales stimulus. Luxury utility quality and charm are all prefigured in the containers and so subtly that the buyer is almost unconscious of their appeal.
One evil has been avoided one pitfall into which more than one manufacturer of a high grade product has fallen. Sometimes luxury and eccentricity have been confused so that the product may appeal to a certain class of undesirable buyers who are looking for mere novelty. Such buyers are seldom repeaters. They care only for novelty and as soon as the container becomes familiar it ceases to be desirable.
It is especially necessary that the distributor of a really high grade perfume avoid this mistake. He wishes his perfume not merely to sell once but more than that to become the companion of the buyer. And so while he must depend upon novelty in a small measure to create the initial desire he also must ally the element of novelty very closely with the elements of quality and enduring desirability. The package or bottle must still be thought of as a utility when the novelty has worn away.
When these qualities have been successfully brought together the manufacturer has a bottle which is different without being eccentric and which will always appeal to the woman as desirable.