Will the real conspiracy theory please stand up ?


Over the years, I’ve been amused by how many claims have been made regarding these olfactory concoctions. A common one is that the testers are better or stronger than the bottles in the retail boxes. People who make such claims probably don’t realize how little money would be saved by “watering down” a designer scent (it’s mostly recent designer scents mentioned in this context). Of course no two bottles might have the same formulation, so people who make such claims might want to write down the batch code to the “good” bottle and then try to find one from that same batch. I’ve never read a claim involving someone doing this, but if you are going to posit such a “theory,” don’t you have a responsibility to readers to try and determine whether or not you are correct?

It would make a lot more sense to say something like, “wow, I wonder if my perceptions can change that much, because it seemed like the tester I tried in Sephora was much better than the bottle I bought from Online Discounter X.” Then you can see if anyone else has had the same perception. Perhaps they have more information that can help explain things. Why go the conspiracy theory route? Interestingly, though many have claimed that their scent has “gone bad,” I can’t remember anyone saying that he/she thought this was done on purpose, by the company, in order to necessitate the purchase of another bottle. If there was a conspiracy afoot, this would be something one would expect. After all, I think most us have learned about the concept of “planned obsolescence” at some point in our lives!

My take is that things that can appear to be “conspiracies” are often just the way things were likely to turn out, all things considered. A good example, IMO obviously, is exemplified by what I’ve read over the years on several occasions. That is, someone will say that they liked a scent at first, wore it a few times, and then it began to bother them. Some say it’s too “synthetic” or “chemical,” or simply that it’s giving them headaches. I have certainly said this my fair share of times! But does anyone think that cheap aroma chemicals were created to make most people sick of a scent, so that he/she would have to buy a bottle of something else? Wouldn’t that person be likely to buy a different brand? Of course, these days there aren’t that many major companies, despite there being so many “designer houses,” but when perfumers began using aroma chemicals in large amounts in most scents (relative to ones from the 1970s or earlier) were they thinking that their creations would soon make those who used these ill?

I do wonder, when I encounter an especially “synthetic” scent, such as Lacoste’s Challenge, how such a scent could have been marketed. If it was at the dollar store, though, I would not think twice about it, other than perhaps how long-lasting it was. As one Fragrantica.com reviewer of this scent said:

I would really like to know the full list of ingredients for this fragrance, does anyone know anywhere it is published?
Upon smelling this fragrance I experienced a sense of revulsion so extreme that it was with me for days, even as I remembered how it smelled I felt sick.
Perhaps it is a chemical that is used as opposed to a fragrance note.
I am sorry for those people who like it, but I actually fear ever having that sensation again and I avoid this fragrance like the plague.

But there are plenty of reviews I would classify as at least “good.” Perhaps the company does some testing and finds that one in ten people find it too harsh/synthetic, but that the strength, along with the usual “fresh” aroma chemicals are appealing to a four or five of those ten people, making it worthwhile to market such a scent. I have no idea, but I think the explanation lies with today’s consumer testing notions, not any kind of conspiracy, though I do think many who like Challenge initially will find it quite a challenge to wear after a while. Interestingly, it does share quite a bit in common with Green Irish Tweed, and so it serves as a kind of lesson for those who want to get a sense of the difference between niche and designer (generally-speaking, of course). The notes to Challenge, from Fragrantica, are:

…Challenge opens with notes of pure energy created of tangerine and lemon with a hint of bergamot. A heart of this fragrant challenge hides ginger combined with aromatic lavender and violet leaves, creating a perfect, pleasant and sensual harmony. Base notes leave a trail of ebony and teak wood…

NOTE: For those who don’t know, a rod was sewn into the top part of the flag that was planted on the moon, as shown in the picture.

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