Why are perfume sales managers so friendly? What strategic decision is behind the store decoration? And the selection of the background music? Why does the bottle of my favourite perfume have that shape and that colour box?
Communicating well in the field of fashion means increasing sales. The equation is simple. The market, however, is much more complex. In this varied and competitive context, the logic of purchasing luxury brands has its own and particular code. International expert in communication of major brands, Paula Lopes, summarises it for us: “You buy a product but you also buy the experience of buying it“.
Lopes, a professor at the Instituto Superior de Novas Profissoes in Lisbon, offered a master class to students of Advertising, Journalism and Audiovisual Communication at our university this week. Her talk, within the framework of the International Days in the Department of Communication, focused on the great international examples in the field of luxury perfumery. And the thing is, fashion is a million-dollar industry that has an increasing importance in the countries of southern Europe: France, Italy, Spain and Portugal. It’s an industry that demands professionals linked not only to production, but also activities related to promotion and communication: experts in photography, event organisation or Public Relations, and that requires an ever-growing professional specialisation.
In doctor Lopes’ opinion, what makes the perfume market a special area is the fact that the purchase is made using senses such as smell, touch or sight: “It is a unique shopping experience,” she said. This unique character forces big brands to set very specific communication strategies. From the outset, they all share some classic characteristics of the luxury market: exclusivity, quality, prestige, design.
With that as a starting point, Lopes pointed out the three special keys that explain the success of the best-known perfumes at present:
1. Communication, understood in the broadest sense of the word. It encompasses advertisements, packaging and bottle design, store decoration and customer service.
2. Reputation, associated with values linked to the brand that have little or nothing to do with the product, however, a story is established over time and used to retain customers and maintain their loyalty to the product.
3. Experience, Being a product with a high emotional benefit, the experience is part of the brand itself: “The whole package is acquired, the product, the person who sells it, the place where you buy it, how it is packaged and, of course, the associated values.”
As Lopes recalled, brands that now occupy the shelves of perfumeries around the world began selling clothing: Gucci, Hugo Boss, Hermès, Chanel … the jump was not in unison but it happened sooner or later in all cases. “Great perfumes that are currently successful have a fashion brand behind them which is already established; most of them were already being advertised in the 19th century“, concluded Dr. Lopes.