When I heard that Air Aroma, a ‘scent solutions company’, was launching a perfume dedicated to, and smelling exactly like, a freshly opened MacBook Pro computer, I instantly recalled a product launch that ended up fizzling out: the Demeter Fragrance Library. The company had a similar idea, and it wasn’t much of a hit.
Does anyone remember Demeter? Ads and write-ups about their everyday-object-inspired “Pick-Me-Up Cologne Sprays”, as they were called, graced beauty magazine pages and drugstore shelves alike years ago. I still have two of these sprays—one called ‘Rain’ and the other ‘Cosmopolitan Cocktail’. But the fragrances didn’t pass the SDM Test*, so now they’re just a hazy memory and a spare website that gets most of its hits from the US. Maybe creating a spray that smells like dirt is not such a great idea.
The SDM Test stands for “The Shoppers Drug Mart Test”, so named (I made it up) because a great way to gauge the popularity and fiscal sustainability of a beauty product is to stock it in Shoppers stores and observe how well it sells over time. Few other venues can compare to this model of marketplace dynamics; everyone shops there, and the bestsellers tend to stay on shelves for the long haul. Demeter’s fragrances didn’t do so well, though I personally was a fan; they lasted maybe a year or two before vanishing into obscurity.
Feasibility aside, does anyone really want to sniff something commonly and easily found? Or smell common themselves? I can understand the novelty value of a MacBook eau de Steve Jobs toilette; die-hard Apple fans can easily be imagined lining up for anything smacking of their beloved brand. But if the product is the brainchild of a third-party company far removed from the Apple core (pun intended), maybe it won’t do as well as one might expect.
Bookworms like the smell of a new book cracked open for the first time. College students away from home for the first time like the smell of their mum’s cooking. Apple fans, therefore, like the metallic smell of their various gadgets and gizmos. Hold on; scratch that. I think they like playing with their newly acquired toys more than they like huffing the combination of plastic, ink, cardboard, and glue of the packages their toys came in. The fragrance would certainly make for a nuanced test of fan base loyalty; are they willing to commit to their brand, body and soul? The eau de MacBook will only be made available in an art exhibition next month and whether it ever breaks into the mass retail market remains to be seen. So perhaps we’ll never know.
It’s not that new of an idea, actually. A friend of mine once received a tin labelled “Air of St. Petersburg” as a gift, and it’s exactly what you think it is. My friend was not impressed. I wouldn’t be, either.
Image by Berto Horta