Imagine: magazines and newspapers without a single ad; public TV programs and sports events uninterrupted by commercials; downtowns and highways without any billboards in sight; no SALE, Everyday Value or CLEARANCE signs in stores.
All those aren’t scenes from a fiction [unti-]utopian book: that was my life until I was in my early twenties. In the country where I lived there was no advertising, no competing brands and, to think of it, not too many choices for any goods or services.
As a result products’ packaging was minimalistic, not too elaborate or appealing. It was mostly functional. That’s why many products had the same packaging for decades: matches, condensed milk, salt, dairy, etc.
After moving to the US the biggest shopping challenge for me (after figuring out what “Paper or plastic?” means) wasn’t even choosing the right product from a dozen of similar ones packaged differently by each brand but getting the same product every next time I needed to replenish something. I stopped registering any progress in razor blades after the number reached four. I came to peace with buying a new type of face cream from the same brand every couple of years: I can at least hope they fight my aging process better and better with every new jar (though I’m still angry with several major brands for switching from glass to plastic – at those prices plastic feels too cheap, I still remember how nice old heavy glass jars and bottles felt in hand). But a toothpaste? Sanitary napkins? Paper towels? Do they really improve those every two-three months?
Being annoyed by the necessity to solve a type/size/price riddle every time at a store, I remember complaining that I wasn’t a stupid consumer with short attention span who wouldn’t remember what she bought previously and needed to be constantly razzle-dazzled by “new”, “better” or “improved” qualifiers.
Thinking about perfumes and statistics this moth I started wondering whether perfume brands were really wrong producing 1,000+ new perfumes per year. Are at least we, perfume enthusiasts, immune to the marketing push strategy?
I took a closer look at my full bottles purchases – over the last two years (since I started this blog) and for 2012-YTD. Not to divulge the absolute number of the perfumes that joined my collection I’m operating with %% from the total perfumes bought during those two periods (but actual bottle numbers were big enough to be representative).
As you can see, I’ve bought a lot of recent releases: more than 50% of the perfumes added to my collection during the recent two years appeared on the market in the last five years. It skews even further towards new perfumes for the last year purchases – more than 60% are newer perfumes. And there are at least three perfumes from 2012 on my “to buy” list. Meanwhile some of the bottles from older days stay on that list without even moving up. So it seems that with me the perfume industry is hitting the target. What about you?
I do not expect that normal people keep all that information handy but let’s try something simpler:
What is the release year of your most recent full bottle perfume purchase?
Image: Soviet products – compilation from multiple sources; stats – my own.