There’s one major Viking thread in the Men’s Forum at Basenotes.net, and one post to it (responding to someone else’s comment) that may get to the crux of the matter, in terms of Creed’s appeal to some people. First, the original comment:
It’s hard to believe that Creed would always create the “best” version of a certain type of scent, considering how we are talking about perceptions only. They may have a good idea of what a certain demographic will perceive as “high class,” “rich and smooth,” or whatever, but the men I’ve asked to try a Creed have not liked it. These were people who enjoyed cheap aftershaves and would never spend much on one (I didn’t tell them how much it cost until after they provided their opinions). To me, Creed has never created the best version of a type of scent (and Pierre Cardin was released more than a decade before Bois du Portugal, so they don’t even get credit for being original there!), which is why the only Creed I possess more than a few ml of is Vintage Tabarome (and I would swap the decant if the right deal came along, but I do like it and likely will keep it).
So, the obvious question here seems to be, “do people allow themselves to be mesmerized by the Creed name? If you haven’t seen it already, the researchers of a recent study about wines have concluded that this is the case in that context:
A new study found that a high price tag on a bottle of wine tricks our brains into thinking it tastes better than a lower-priced bottle, even when the wines are identical…
“The reward and motivation system is activated more significantly with higher prices, and apparently increases the taste experience in this way,” said researcher Bernd Weber, acting director of the University of Bonn’s Center for Economics and Neuroscience in Germany…
This is known as the “marketing placebo effect,” explained the researchers, referring to health benefits people often feel when they’re given a “placebo,” or dummy, medication.
The measurements of brain activity in the MRI scanner confirmed this effect.
So, should we call it the “Creed placebo effect?” I do think there is one more element that may be involved in some of these kinds of situations, which might be best called the “expensive-smelling molecule effect.” A great example is how large amounts of calone or dihydromyrcenol in a scent probably leads to a lot of people thinking it’s “cheap.” On the other hand, load up a scent with iso e super or cashmeran while slapping a niche label on it, and you’ve got something that “smells expensive” to a certain demographic. Of course, over time this can change, as more people smell such scents and as much cheaper “clones” are marketed. It sounds like with Viking, the perfumer decided to try and combine at least two different genres in order to create a scent that many would deem unique (while others might call it a mish-mash).
But do I “need” a unique scent, or at least one that will be unique until the “clone” companies market their versions of it? Some apparently feel that they do, but I have a very large rotation, so even my favorite scents only get a few wearings a year. Thus, while I can understand how someone might want a unique “signature scent,” this is likely a minority of even those who post to sites like Basenotes and Fragrantica, judging by how much praise scents like Sauvage and Bleu de Chanel have received (in spite of quite a bit of initial criticism). Indeed, how often has someone written that those who want truly unique scents (such as “vintage” Leather Oud by Dior) are only worn by a few “snobs” or weirdos? Again, it seems as though Creed is exempt, for some people, from the “usual logic.” This reminds me of claims in sports that certain players are given more leeway by officials than the vast majority of the rest of the players in that league. And how many of those who said they “kept trying” a Creed they initial didn’t find especially compelling gave “lesser” scents the same opportunity? I’d guess that around 25-30% of the scents I eventually decided I wanted to own a bottle of I initially didn’t like (or like enough to buy a bottle of at that point), but I was judging on merit, not name.
A recent example is Sensation Midnight for Men by Nu Parfums. It cost me less than $4 for 100 ml and is by a company that would likely be regarded poorly by those who visit sites like Basenotes. Moreover, the first time I tried it I did not like it at all, and thought it was too “chemical.” However, the second time I tried it I thought it was somewhat interesting, sort of an “amped up” Midnight in Paris, though definitely not exactly the same (other than being stronger, of course). And the third time I wore it my thought was that it was important to let it waft up to the nose rather than smelling it up close or using my hand to waft it up to the nose. What would most Basenotes’ members think if it was marketed as niche and there was a label saying it had been “expertly formulated” so that it would only smell right if one allowed it to waft up to the nose from a distance of more than a foot? Some tried to “defend” their decisions to buy Viking by comparing it to other consumer items, such as bicycles, but the obvious problem is that others can see the “specialness” of the bicycle, whereas people don’t carry their Creed bottles around showing them off to others (and would anyone care but a “Creed fanboy” or person who buys niche?). I’d guess that most people could create their own “unique” scents with very little study (all of it free from online sources) and very little cash, or one could just try some different layering combinations (if you already have a whole bunch of different types of fragrances).
One comment I made on that Basenotes’ thread was:
For me, considering the price and what at lot of BNers already own (I’ve got plenty of “warm/spicy” and a few salty scents, and I don’t want an aquatic note in any scent), why not try a layering combination to figure out something that will be quite close to Viking? If you know your notes, do you really even have to sample Viking? LOL.
The last statement was meant to be a joke (hence the “LOL,” but someone took it seriously! To clarify that here, I’d say that if a whole bunch of people are saying it’s like a salty Pasha, and you’ve already got a salty scent and vintage Pasha (that you can layer), and the notes don’t look like anything you’d regard as special, do you really want to even bother considering a very expensive scent (assuming you aren’t afflicted with the “Creed placebo effect?” Even if I really liked it, after a few wearings it would just be another scent in my rotation, right next to Sensation Midnight and a bunch of other “super cheapos.” We only have limited time and limited budgets (assuming you aren’t super wealthy), but unfortunately it may be true that a majority of people have very limited self-awareness (and so don’t realize that they are susceptible to these kinds of “placebo effects,” nor foresee how certain kinds of scents may become boring, or just one among many, in short order).
Note that the Basenotes post I addressed above can be found here:
And here’s an “added bonus!” I came upon the following comment on this same thread, and thought I’d do a “running commentary” on it (my comments are in brackets). The person starts out by saying, “it is pretty good,” and then we get:
I feel like a lot of people look at the price tag of this fragrance and then immediately write it off because of that or smell it and go “This isn’t the best smelling fragrance ever so therefor it’s trash at this price”. But I feel that’s a completely wrong way to review a fragrance. How can anyone else give a value based judgement for another person? What is a reasonable price for me might not be for another or vice versa. What I tried to do was ignore completely the price and just review the fragrance for what it is. Each person has to make the value assessment themselves on what they are willing to spend on a fragrance.
[That’s a reasonable sentiment, but then you have to subject all scents you sample to the same reveiw protocol (and not only sample the “big names”); what I’ve seen with Creeds is that some peope will keep going back to it, even after an initially negative impression, until they find the “Creed magic.” They are definitely not going to do this with a Playboy or Remy Latour level scent, and may not do this with a Gucci, Calvin Klein, etc.]
If you strip everything else away from Viking and just focus on the smell the large large majority of people would find it good. It’s a people pleaser fragrance and is really really different from basically anything I’ve ever smelled. It also does changes that make it hard to pin down and evolves a decent amount over it’s life.
[Hold on now! It’s a great all around/people pleasing scent and yet it’s “really really different” from everything else you’ve ever smelled? Well, either you have very little experience with these concoctions or it sounds like absolute nonsense one would expect from a “fanboy.”]
For example, today I sprayed it on and I got less mint in the opening and a good bit more of the spice but also a bit of freshness that wasn’t there in the opening yesterday. It has a bit of an original santal vibe but also not. There’s woods and lavender and vetiver in it and still mint. That’s one reason I said this fragrance could be someone’s signature scent. If I was blindfolded and someone sprayed this and any other fragrance I’ve ever smelled, I think I would be able to pick this every time. Does that make it better? That’s up to the individual person to decide. But it does make it unique in my book.
[The notes for it are not very unique, nor are any of the comments I’ve read so far. Some say it’s like Pasha, or Pasha with a salty note, or like Shelter Island, etc. Yes, if you study a scent in great detail, you likely will be able to distinguish it from others, but again, that’s probably true of just about any release.]
Another note on performance. When I woke up this morning I could *still* smell it on my skin. I honestly feel like people finding this fragrance lacking in the performance department are going nose blind to it. Is it a powerhouse 12+ hours later? No. I think most people in a warm climate will feel it projects well for 5ish hours and then it stays as a skin scent for 8 or more. But let me say this, as someone who owns multiple bottles of Aventus from ’15 and ’16, some considered the best batches of the moderns – Aventus doesn’t perform any better on my skin and I routinely go nose blind to it. I’ve never personally gotten the beast mode Aventus claims that others have. Not on skin at least.
[If it’s just an “okay” scent selling for $500 a bottle, one can just reapply a weaker, but very similar scent.]
I wish more people would just judge the fragrance itself and leave their own personal value assessment out of it. Objectively speaking, Viking is a great release, especially for people who always scream that they want something different than the usual stuff. Viking takes common notes but matches them in an interesting different way. Is it my favorite fragrance ever? No, but I would rock it out without a second thought and expect to get good responses to it.
[Yes, I too want the scent to be judged on its own merits, but you only want this intense study done on Creeds, or if you would like to see it done on other scents, you don’t seem to want to participate or encourage others to do so. And if another company “takes common notes but matches them” in a different way, it often gets heavily criticized (such as occurred with Bleu de Chanel soon after it was released). Creed gets credit for this but when another company does it, people don’t like the “mish mash”/generic offering. Now let’s say I sample Viking and think it’s quite good – I’m still not paying those prices, and the reason is that I don’t feel deprived (as apparently people like this do) if I can’t have this particular scent. If I want something similar I have little doubt I can figure out a layering combination with fragrances I already own plenty of. So, thanks Creed (and other companies), for giving me new layering ideas, but no, I don’t need a “round up the usual suspects” and do something a little different (at best) scent for those kinds of prices!]
Here is the thread in which the comment was posted: