Are those Sauvage “compliments” really complimentary?

In yet another round of “discussion” about Sauvage recently (at least at Basenotes.net), I noticed that so many argued that it should be regarded as a great scent because it garnered so many compliments, particularly ones that at least suggested the women who made the statements thought they smelled “sexy.”  But then I watched some Youtube videos, one being a Sauvage review by “Jeremy Fragrance:”

and it occurred to me that the supposed compliments may not be what the guys in question think.  Even if these are legitimate compliments, what do they mean?  If we believe that there is some element of truth to the “men are from Mars, women are from Venus” idea, then this may be an excellent illustration of it!  That is, it seemed to me that at least most of the women were not communicating something like, “that is so sexy,” but rather, “that’s something a nice guy, like my brother, would wear” ‘(at best).  In some cases, it seemed like they found the scent to be unpleasant, but were being “polite” by saying what they thought the guy in question wanted to hear.

I should mention here that a few years ago I read some books about detecting lies.  One point was that you should look for “microexpressions” that occur right away, before the person can do anything to try and be deceptive (even in cases like this, where they may just want to be polite).  Watching just the JeremyFragrance Youtube review of Sauvage, I found a few possible examples of this:

Sauvage Photo

This is a universal display of disgust, but she claims it’s “sexy,” though that was after being asked if it’s sexy.  Then we have:

Sauvage Photo 2

This woman had just smelled it for the first time (holding the strip close to her nose).  She appears to be thinking about what to say, but not thinking anything especially positive – she eventually says it’s “refreshing,” “nice,” and “casual.”  Overall (taking “body language” into account), I’d say she thought it was “run of the mill.”  If she thought it was incredibly “sexy,” it’s highly likely that would have registered on her face by this point.

Sauvage Photo 3

This is a photo of a woman right after she pulled her head back after smelling the strip.  Then she said it was a sexy scent, but doesn’t register much excitement for it, though that could be due to cultural differences (it appears that she’s European), and we have no idea what he said to any of these women before providing the strip to smell.  My first guess is that she’s thinking about what to tell the guy to please him, because most of us adults register a “sexy” smell just about immediately – we don’t have to ask ourselves if something is “sexy” or not!  There were two other women with this one who were also asked, but of course after the first one said sexy and the guy seemed pleased, it was a tainted situation.  My sense is that if most “young” women find Sauvage appealing, it is more along the lines of what they would want a teacher, minister, boss, etc. to smell like (assuming she isn’t attracted to the “old” guy), but they know that’s not what the “young” guy wants to hear them say.

From watching the expressions of the women in this video, I do not think this was totally staged, though.  Instead, it looks to me like the women thought it was a “fresh” type of scent and were telling this guy what he wanted to hear when they got some “cues” to do so.  My guess is that if a guy who was very “nerdy,” shy, and not conventionally “attractive” asked them, they would say it was fresh, clean, nice, etc., because they would not find the guy to be especially “sexy” or think it would “seem weird.”  This “experiment” would be easy to do, of course, but one would have to use an actor who could play the part well.  In the reviews that claim “women find it sexy,” we can’t know if they were saying things to the women in question, such as, “this is really sexy, don’t you think?”  And any scent that is very strong, as Sauvage is, will generate more comments than a scent that is so weak the people near you don’t know it is yours or don’t detect it at all.  Of course, product testing much have been done with Sauvage (probably with a “young” crowd), but the idea that they tested for “sexiness” and found that Sauvage was by far the best they could offer in this context seems rather unlikely.

Keep in mind that these are possible examples, the reason being that it’s crucial to establish a “baseline” for every individual, so that you can see when patterns are broken.  For example, if you ask someone what his/her name is (and you know what it is), then there should be no microexpressions that suggest deception, but there might be, simply because of a quirk that is unique to this person.  However, if a heterosexual woman thought that a scent was head and shoulders above others in the “sexy” department, we should see her face really “light up” right after she smells it, but that never seems to be the case with Sauvage.  Moreover, guys claiming that a scent is a “panty dropper” is quite old at this point, and it has probably been claimed for over a hundred fragrances (just online) by now.  In fact, I was watching a documentary TV show about a jail and one of the prisoners said he had marketed a scent that could also accomplish this!  If women really thought that Sauvage was only a good scent for a guy they were going to buy a car from, for example, what would that do to the sales?

Usually, though, these “panty dropper” scents are rather sweet, sometimes with an obvious gourmand element (especially for the “younger” demographic), or a spicy one (probably more for the “thirty something” or older demographic).  And another claim made by many Sauvage “defenders” is that it’s a great “all around” scent.  So, you would need to believe that Sauvage, which doesn’t seem to possess any “special sauce” element (just the usual aroma chemicals, as a fragrance chemist told me not long ago), somehow can accomplish two things that up until now have been considered incompatible!  And if a lot of ambroxan is the key, then why hasn’t anyone (to my knowledge) claimed that Molecule 02 was the sexiest scent created to date?  Something is quite amiss here – what could it be?  I am working on a follow-up post that will address this, so “stay tuned,” but in the meantime, I decided to see how many reviewers at Fragrantica.com thought Invictus was the kind of scent “women love” (I searched for the word woman and then made sure the context was relevant).  I have yet to try Invictus, so I don’t have an opinion on it, but from what I’ve read it sounds like this is the kind of scent that would generate much more positive initial responses from young women (though the “panty dropper” type clams are sexist and crude, IMO, regardless of which scent is being referenced, and suggest there is a kind of switch in the minds of women that, once in the “on position,” turn them into sexual zombies).  Interestingly, the first reviewer I quote below claims that Invictus does generate an initial very positive response:

Watch a woman smell this, then watch her pupils dilate like I have seen on more than one occasion. Invictus appeals to women on a completely subconscious level

I’ve noticed that women LOVE invictus.

If you’re fishing for compliments definitely buy this — it might be a little too sweet for most guys, but you’ll receive plenty of compliments from women.

I Love and women too

If you want to attract women, this is one of the better choices in the mainstream market

women love it

women really like the smell.

Womens seems to love this…

women like it on men

every time I wear it I get compliments mostly by women

it does appeal to most women, may be not ALL but most of them.

let me tell you women love it

Compliment getter. I haven’t had women respond as strongly and positively to a fragrance since I can remember

will get compliments, especially from women

women like the darn thing.

ALLLLLL da women love it

Two quick sprays of Invictus to my jugular, and within fifteen minutes I’d received five compliments from random strangers–mostly women–while shopping in our mall!
you can get attention from women if you wear it

I work with alt of women and usualy i bring some samples so they can smell and vote for, the amazing thing is that all of them voted for Invictus.

women always immediately buy it for their man when they smell it

the fragrance makes the women go crazy

And I think one reviewer has the right idea about what the social reality is here:

I’m not sure if this is what men want to smell like, but it certainly is what women want their man to smell like!

My guess is that most women in the “younger” heterosexual demographic either think Sauvage is “nice” but too strong or think it’s a “clean,” “fresh,” etc., and possibly generic type scent, but see how excited young men get when talking about it and try to to “be polite” in their response, or just tell the guy what they think he wants them to hear.  I would not be surprised if “younger” women did think Invictus is sexy, though I would still want to see some studies about the social context.

When I searched for the word girl there were a dozen claims (as of this writing, of course) about them loving it, thinking it sexy, etc.  I then did similar searches for Aventus and 1 Million and the results were similar.  I would be interested to know just how many scents, quite different from each other, are viewed this way (by guys), but as things stand it appears that some young men tend to get obsessed with the notion that these concoctions can contain a “special sauce” for making females think they are “sexy.”  However, they also seem to move on, from one “panty dropper” scent to “the next big thing,” so it becomes a kind of “flavor of the month” situation.  Should this be any surprise, considering how many “pick up women” gurus there are, along with books along the same lines?  There is this Nightline (ABC News) segment about it, for instance, but do your own search on Youtube and you’ll find plenty more:

The “guru” telling some of his “secrets” did not mention anything about fragrances!  And I’d classify what I have “sketched out” above as a “working hypothesis.”  Interestingly, with Midnight in Paris, there are quite a few reviews saying it should lbe a unisex of “feminine” scent, and less about it being a “panty dropper,” but whether this is the social reality, or due to women not being cued in to say it is sexy is impossible to tell, of course.  At this point, social science studies should be done to determine if my tentative conclusions are functional for a certain percentage of the “young” male population in nations like the USA, and if so, approximately what that percentage is.

NOTE:  In the reviews of some scents, usually “old school” ones, you might read something like, “this fragrance announces that you are in charge; you are invading the space of others and there’s nothing they can do about it.  This is for those who hold positions of authority and make to make sure everyone knows it!”  Now this might be just as ridiculous as claims about how “sexy” Sauvage is appear to be, but the important point seems to be that nobody feels the need to “defend” a scent that “reeks of authority” (if that notion has any merit), yet so many rush to defend “sexy” Sauvage, which doesn’t make sense at all (and there are plenty of negative reviews of “old school” scents, that’s undeniable).  In fact, if you thought a mass-marketed scent was perceived as sexy by those who you were attracted to, why would you want to spread the word, so that every other guy in your demographic would want to buy it?  Perhaps it’s just another “Emperor’s New Clothes” situation, in this case a variation on a fresh/chemical “department store scent” theme, and few willing to admit to being manipulated by “ad men.”

UPDATE:  When I published the above I wrote up a thread on Basenotes.net on the subject, which included a poll:

http://www.basenotes.net/threads/427335-Have-you-ever-bought-a-scent-because-it-was-hyped-as-quot-sexy-quot/page3

After five days (by then it was no longer popular), about 65% (53) said no, but about 23% chose “a few times.”  The idea was that BN members were much less likely to buy a scent because a friend, a Youtube video (but not a “girlfriend,” wife, or lover) told them a scent was “sexy” (I didn’t mention “boyfriend” or husband because my sense is that heterosexual men are much more likely to believe such a claim, and since I have seen little if any evidence that gay men think along these lines, I thought it best to consider that subject at a later time).  It seems to be more or a Youtube reviewer phenomenon, from what I can tell, with a small amount of “hype” on Fragrantica and a tiny amount on BN.  The poll results, however, tell a different story, with about a third of respondents saying they fell for the sexy hype at least once.

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