“Cheapos” and the “personal value” of a scent.

Not long ago on Basenotes.net a thread was started with the title, “Price = Quality: Price the Fragrance Accordingly.” The person who started it included a list of scents that he wanted those who responded to attach their price to, as opposed to what it actually sells for or sold for in the past. These scents were: Le Male, Fahrenheit, Tobacco Vanille, Terre d’Hermes, Encre Noire,
Caron Pour Un Homme, Tonka Imperiale, Guerlain Homme L’Eau Boisee, Habit Rouge, Egoiste,
Bleu de Chanel, The One, Gucci Pour Homme II, Prada Amber Intense, CH Men, Individuel, Royal Oud, Dior Homme, Burberry London, 2 Man, and Five O’clock Au Gingembre.


No reason was given as to why these particular scents were listed, but the points I made included:

1. unless one is taking into account swap or resale value, how could the value be much more thann $0 if the person never wore the scent? Would one let others’ smell it when one hosted a party? Would that give it some value above $0?

2. what about the value of the quality of the bottle, as well as how it might look good on someone’s counter? I don’t place much value on these but some clearly do.

3. the most important elements (if the bottle itself is disregarded) seem to be uniqueness, composition, apparent ingredient quality, and strength (I didn’t mention uniqueness on the thread), though “speculation value” is yet another factor that some people clearly consider.

After thinking it over, the best response that fit with this person’s intent I could manage was:

…I have what I’ll call my “dollar store rule,” but even then, some people like really nice bottles while others would rather pay less and get a basic bottle. With the dollar store rule, the scent has to be better than dollar store scents in certain ways, and then I can assess how much that means to me. And as I said, most would be in that $25 range, if I thought they were at least “sound” in every way, even if I didn’t like them. The reality, though, is that the market for a scent can change radically in a short period of time, so that what matters most is if I really like it (up to about $100). The way the market usually works is that there are a few “stars” one can’t get cheap, so that $100 is a bargain, but then the rest can usually be had at much lower prices if one has patience. That’s how I figure things, and since I don’t need to add any more bottles for the rest of my life, I am rarely tempted to buy anything over that $25 level…

I’ll also add that even if I thought a scent was worth let say $50 to me, what does that mean in practice? If I already had a few bottles, would I buy another at $40? How about at $20? Etc. What if I thought the value would rise sharply soon and wanted a backup bottle? Would I pay $70? 100? And what if I wanted a bottle but had seen it sell on ebay for $20 now and then? Should I wait for that to happen again? There’s a value to be placed on “instant gratification,” isn’t there?

Here, I’ll speak to “cheapos,” because I’ve had the opportunity to sample a few new ones lately, which are Yacht Man Chocolate, Playboy London, Intense Black by Lomani, Jovan’s Oud Intense, and Adidas Extreme Power. This is a bit of a “rag tag” group. For example, YMC is very weak and has household-product freshness top notes, but spray a lot more than usual, wait a few minutes, and you get variation on the Dior Homme theme. The ingredient quality seems a bit lower but what matters is whether it passes a certain threshold and seems unwearably bad. So far this has not happened with it. AEP is somewhat like Play Intense, but it features an interesting apple note and is quite pleasant. It’s unique in my experience and like YMC, I can see myself actually wearing it. Sure it may be similar to a Boss scent, for all I know, but that means nothing to me, one way or the other.

Playboy London seems to be the strongest, and while it has an unmistakeable “laundry musk” quality, that seems to dissipate quite a bit and it soon comes together nicely! It’s also the only scent I have that has a brandy note and that I enjoy wearing! The Lomani is the most “generic” to me, though many say it’s like a weak version of Royal Oud by Creed. It’s also on the strong side for a “cheapo,” and if you can get 100 ml of it for around $10, as I did, I doubt you will be disappointed, unless you have unrealistic expectations. Oud Intense may bet the “best” of the group, at least considering how expensive most “quality” oud scents are. I was actually expecting not to like it, as I very rarely wear an “oud scent,” but the drydown was really good, though more for vintage fans or those who want a milder version of a niche oud scent.

A point worth considering here is that if I can get these kinds of scents for less than $10 each, as was the case, why shouldn’t I take a chance? My sensitivities might change, even if I dislike it initially, and it might be a great deal for someone who wants a large rotation. Also, I have yet to come across one of these really cheap scents that is loaded with iso e super, which lately seems to be the only aroma chemical that is causing me major problems. To be sure, there isn’t much complexity nor have I found any “artful” compositions, though they are a bit different (in terms of what I own), or in the case of Intense Oud, wearable, and so their “weaknesses” are a strength for me, because they offer an alternative for when I want it. Today, for example, I wore Polo Double Black, and even though I only used two sprays, it was too strong, possibly due to an aroma chemical meant to suggest woodiness. Whatever it was, it’s not likely to happen with any of the “cheapos” mentioned above, and this is especially important if I feel that I might be getting a headache. If I apply most scents there’s a good chance it will make the headache worse, if it develops (and perhaps it leads to a headache in the first place). I don’t think that will happen with these cheapos, unless I apply a huge amount.


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Filed under Fragrance Reviews., The basics.

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