Portrait of a perfumista

Perfume community is already big and it’s still growing as we speak. New perfume brands appear every year, every season and they’re followed by people who have a serious interest in perfume and this branch of the industry as well. For months I’ve been wondering about you, me, us and all those people all over the world. Who we are? What we do? How everything started? I decided to take a quick survey to create something I would call a portrait of a perfumista.

At first I ask you – don’t take this post too seriously since a group of people who agreed to participate in the survey was relatively small. The more people would’ve joined the more general insight I would get but I will try to cope with what I have and formulate some basic conclusions. Without any further introductions lets move on to the main stage. Here are the results.

1st question: Was perfume present in your life and home when you were a young child? As an answer to this question 86% (30 people) said YES and remaining 14% (5 people) said NO about perfumes in their childhood. What needs to be highlighted is that a great part of those who gave a positive answer didn’t say about a perfume experience per se but about smells associated with home, like scents of baking a bread or cake, aroma of spices used in the kitchen.

Question 2: Was your mother or father wearing perfume in your childhood? I divided the results into three groups and combined them into this chart. Relatively big group (50%) of our parents were both wearing perfumes when we were young. In 29% of all cases you confessed that one of your parents liked to use fragrance while the other one didn’t care for it. Here’s another news – among these 29% everyone said it was their mother who had perfume. 21% of all questioned replied that none of their parents used perfume. Many of you remembered the name of your mother’s and father’s scents. For the ladies – Guerlain Shalimar and Chanel No.5 were mentioned most often, 4 and 3 times relatively. For gents it was Old Spice with 6 hits.

Next I asked about your first perfume – what was it and how old were you when you bought it. All but 3 people remembered both perfume and their age. I summed up the age you’ve given and divided it by the number of survey participants. In result I got the average age of our first real perfume purchase – it is 15 years old. The smallest given age for the 1st perfume purchase was 7 and the highest was 38, quite a big divergence, isn’t it? On to the perfume: for 2 people YSL Opium was their 1st scent, fragrances from Avon was worn by 4 people in their youth. Perfumes from Coty were mentioned most often – 6 times with Vanilla Fields taking 2 votes.

Question no. 4 was – When did you start to consider yourself as a perfumista? I guess I put that question in  a wrong way as I expected answers like “x years ago” while some people said how old were they so for this one statistic I only counted the votes saying how many years ago you started your perfumistahood. 36% of the answers were for I was always a perfumista. 23% said they’re perfumistas for 2 years or less, the same amount of votes was for 3-5 years ago. Funny thing happened – 9% of questioned said they’re perfumistas for over 10 years and the same number of participants said that a perfumista title doesn’t apply to them. At least not yet, but who knows…

My inquiring mind also wanted to know how old were you when you started to buy perfume regularly (and for many it also means A LOT of perfume). The answers were pretty varied. The graph proves that most of us started their perfume adventure young – when they were teenagers or young adults. 61% claim they started buying perfume flacons regularly when they were 20 years old or younger, many mentioned that everything started when they got their first job. 27% of people were between 21 and 30 when they started buying. 8% were at the age of 31-40 and 4% were older than 40 when they started building their collections.

The last question that had something to do with the numbers was: How many flacons do you own? Since the answers I got from the questionnaire respondents couldn’t have been put into a nice chart I asked the same question again to the greater audience and got much more replies that provide better evaluation. This is the result of the poll. 1-10 bottles are owned by 9% of all who voted. 17% of the group has a collection built from 11-25 fragrances and the same percentage of people own 26-50 bottles. These are the highest results in this chart. 14% of voters have 51-100 bottles, 10% own 101-150 bottles. 151-200 fragrances own 13% of asked and 14% of people own more than 200 scents. Categories of >300, >400 and >500 didn’t fit in the Chanel bottle chart but each of these categories got 2% of all votes. I was happy to see I’m in the most popular group of 11-25 bottles.

At last I asked about your job profession to determine if perfumistas do a similar kind of job. According to the results I got – they don’t. We all do work in different places. Some jobs like nurse, doctor or artist appeared more than once but it’s too little to make a good conclusion that many perfumistas work in health care. The only thing I can say basing on the replies I got is that a vast number of perfumistas have job that involve contact with other person, helping them or providing services to them. That’s all I can say for now on!

I hope that you enjoyed this post and that you’ll find it both entertaining and fun. If you want you can share in the comments how does the results above apply to you – do you agree with some of the conclusions or not necessarily?

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34 thoughts on “Portrait of a perfumista

  1. Jordan River says:

    Interesting more than fun. 200+ is a lot to manage. Just as well that you did not ask about samples; a nightmare to find and count.

  2. How fun. Great job Lucas… you are now rivaling Undina and her charts and stats!

  3. poodle says:

    I am not one of those with 200 bottles. I don’t know where I would put that many bottles. As it is I think I need to downsize and get rid of a few that don’t get used that much anymore.

    • lucasai says:

      Good for you my dear. What would you do with so many bottles. I personally can’t imagine having so many – if I wanted to wear them all I would wear them only once a year, that’s too rarely, I would forget how they smell like.

  4. What a great article! I feel like I am among friends here! For the record, the first perfume I ever bought was a bottle of Bluebell perfume in Boots when I was about 15. After that LouLou at 18. I drenched myself in it.

    This is a really interesting article and what I find interesting about people’s olfactory memory is that when you look at Fragrantica reviews, so many people say “My Mum/Aunt/Grandma wore this”. I always say that the olfactory memory is stronger than any other. Just one whiff of a perfume can evoke a long forgotten colleague or flat mate. You might not recall their name, but you can always recall their signature scent.

    Oh, and I’m staying quiet about my number of full bottles. To a perfumista its not that many, but non perfume folk always look shocked.

    • lucasai says:

      Glad you like it! You ARE among friends! Do you mean Penhaligon’s Bluebell, or other perfume of that name?

      Yes, people do really remember scents from their past. They might remember faces, not remember the names but they also memorized how they smelled like.

      • Sadly it just a Boots own Bluebell for a couple of pounds in the 80s. The first proper perfume I had bought for me was Estee Lauder Beautiful, bought for me by my Dad when I was 18. It’s a bit loud and I don’t wear it anymore, but 80s memories come rushing back when I smell it.

        • lucasai says:

          I see, thanks for putting that straight. It’s easy to get lost when there’s more than one with the same name.
          It’s good to have a perfume (even if not worn anymore) that brings memories back

  5. shellyw says:

    nice summary, thanks. I think my 10-12 is reasonable, 200 would be fun but you are right when you would only were then seldom.

  6. ringthing says:

    Thanks for doing this, Lucas, I always enjoy seeing the results of polls like this. I didn’t buy my first perfume until I was fourteen (Norell, purchased at the local drugstore with babysitting money) but I was gifted with my first bottle at age eight (Arpege, which my parents brought home from their first European vacation.) I would like to know how many perfume people have other collections/passions as well; it seems anything I really like somehow becomes a collection. Maybe I have a bit of the hoarder mentality but I bet I’m not the only one!

  7. Dionne says:

    Great survey, Lucas. For some of these questions I’m definitely part of the crowd (my mom wore perfume, bought my first bottle at 17, I’m in the 26-50 bottle range) and for others I’m a bit of an outlier. And I’m still kicking myself that I gave away that first bottle I purchased: an almost full Anne Klein II. Man, if I could go back in time….

  8. Kafkaesque says:

    Fascinating! You did a lovely job, Lucas, and asked some great questions. Naturally, I loved the fact that Opium was listed by 2 people as their first perfume…. *grin*

    I don’t think I could have answered your questions easily, in part because my earliest perfume experiences involve perfume being bought for me. I got my first two bottles of perfume when I was 6, became a hardcore perfume addict with adult-ish fragrances when I was 7, and had a nice little collection by the time I was in my teens, but I never bought any of those.

    • lucasai says:

      Thank you! I’m happy everyone enjoys. You really liked those questions? Of course, you being a fan of Opium must be proud that it was mentioned too.

      I see, I see. I never got perfume as a gift, it was more that I sniffed a scented page of Avon catalogue and asked my mother to buy me this or that. But my first conscious purchase was Prada Amber Pour Homme bought 4 years ago as my high school graduation gift.

  9. Undina says:

    Great job, Lucas! The only improvement I’d have made is to the “age” chart to include age intervals in addition to %.

    Since I was one of the participants, these stats do apply to me 😉 Speaking of age when I bought the first bottle. My responsewas actually based on the age when I bought a perfume with my own money. I bought some much earlier – probably around 8 or 9 but with money given to me for ice cream 😉

    Also I thought fora while about the statistics of parents using perfumes and realized that it’s not surprising that more fathers than mothers wore something since probably those scents came in the form of aftershaves and colognes used after shaves.

    • lucasai says:

      Thank you, glad you liked it!
      Yes, yes, these stats do apply to you. And you should also spot your profile picture somewhere in the “perfume” word.
      That sounds funny when you say you bought perfume for an ice cream money.

      Yes, it’s usually ladies who want to smell nice, when fathers wore perfume it was usually a cologne or aftershave, especially Old spice

  10. hajusuuri says:

    Wowzers! Love the graphs! So I am not one of those with 51-100 bottles, but I am one of those with 101-150 bottles or ummm, maybe more; I have never done an official count. One of these days, Undina will whip me into shape.

    My parents did not wear perfume but my dad used Old Spice aftershave. The only “perfumed” thing I recall on my mom’s dresser was a pack of the powdered face papers and I used to sneak one every now and then. I must have been 5 or 6 then because I moved on to (sneak) bigger and better things as I got older. Perhaps my love of powdery iris came from that? Who knows???

    My cousin used to work for a perfume distributor and he gave me minis of Obsession (the one that looks like a body part) and Liz Claiborne (the bottle was triangular and the edges were yellow, blue and red. For the first perfume I bought for myself, I think it was actually a strawberry scented oil from The Body Shop and I broke out in hives on first application but yet I lived to tell the tale! My first grown-up perfume was Alfred Sung — it came in a rectangular bottle with a red cap.

    • lucasai says:

      Glad you liked it!
      Wow, I didn’t think you have so many bottles! Crazy!

      I guess there might be something true that those powdered face papers make you love powdery iris. Maybe when you smelled a powdery iris for the first time you remembered the smell of you mum’s papers and you liked it?

      I don’t like strawberry scented products but I guess that The Body Shop one must’ve been appealing to you back then.

  11. I enjoyed this post. I like to learn about our fellow fiends. 🙂 As for me, I don’t remember when I first bought perfume with my own money. It might have been Exclamation at 13 or so, but I had gotten it as gifts before that, from the age of about 8 or 9. I remember my uncle giving me a giant (or so it seemed to 8-or-9-year-old me) bottle of Heaven Sent for Christmas. My mom and dad both wear fragrance, but they aren’t super into it.

    I’m probably on the lower end for number of bottles.. 15 or 16, and mostly cheap stuff at that. Unless mini and travel size bottles count, then it’s probably more like 28 or 30.

  12. Mary K says:

    Good survey! Both of my parents wore scent (perfume for mom and both after shave and cologne for dad). I also remember my grandmother on dad’s side saying that she liked perfume and also that her dad wore “gentlemen’s cologne”, as she put it. I guess it’s no wonder that I enjoy perfume.

  13. laniersmith says:

    Lucas that was so much Fun!!

  14. Laurels says:

    I must not be a perfumista, because it amazes me that the category I fall into (1-10 bottles) has fewer respondents than the >200 category. Going from three bottles to eight caused me to have to do some significant rearranging! Interesting post.

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