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Sunday, 17 February 2013

"Re-envisaging" L'Artisan Parfumeur: Please Help Kirsten With Her Branding Project! (Plus A Séville A L'Aube / Travalo Giveaway)

The other day, I was surprised to receive the following email:

"Hi Vanessa

I am a student in South Africa currently doing a degree in Creative Brand Communications. I am doing a marketing assignment on the perfume brand L'Artisan Parfumeur...I am having trouble finding out insights into why people buy L'Artisan's products? I know they are a French niche perfume house and they offer scents that are unique, however, I feel that a lot of other perfume brands such as Serge Lutens, Diptyque, Lubin, By Kilian and Frédéric Malle also do this. I am finding it hard to grasp what L'Artisan's brand image is in the mind of the consumer. I live in South Africa and have never interacted with this brand before. Also South Africa's perfume market is quite different to the French market.

I would really appreciate it if you could shed some light! :)  Kind regards Kirsten"

Well, I must admit that Kirsten's out of the blue inquiry rather caught me on the hop. I don't believe I have ever given any thought to L'Artisan's brand image, though I am pretty familiar with the fragrances themselves. Reading Kirsten's email back, my first thought was to agree with her statement about L'Artisan offering a range of unique scents. Some of them are quite off the wall, even. But for me, her view that other perfume houses also have distinctive ranges doesn’t preclude them from each having their own brand identity and distinct place - or "niche" indeed - in the world of niche fragrance. But if that holds true, what exactly IS L'Artisan's brand image?

Before pondering the matter further, I wrote back to Kirsten, saying that I would see what I could find out about people’s perceptions of the brand, and that the best way might well be to involve readers of my blog. I asked her to tell me more about the background to the project, together with any information she had already gleaned.




Kirsten is preparing an entry for the D & AD 2013 student awards for creative excellence. The L'Artisan brief she has chosen is as follows:

“Re-envisage the L’Artisan Parfumeur brand for the 21st Century by creating a design solution for a new unisex range of scents.

Creative challenge —

Traditional French fragrance houses are steeped in a rich history of style and imagery. L’Artisan Parfumeur wants to break with this convention. Their latest collection is uniquely based around bottled emotions. Your challenge is to showcase this range by breaking the rules of conventional perfume packaging.

There are four scents, each capturing a different human feeling:

Scent a: Passion and desire. Sex and lust. Raw and physical.
Scent b: Perfect, sublime love. An interior emotion.
Scent c: Excitement and fear. Adrenaline, exhilaration and thrill.
Scent d: Elegant and dignified. Stormy yet still.”

Of course there are many other students the world over tackling the same brief, but as Kirsten took the initiative to approach me, she’s the “horse” I am backing who gets my help!

And following her initial desk research, Kirsten’s take so far on the brand values of the company is as follows:

"So far I have discovered that L’Artisan is a French niche perfume house that produces unique fragrances by mixing contradictory scents together. They are inspired by Grasse and nature. They refer to Grasse as a place that is ‘alive with fleeting emotions’ (definitely something there!). They also believe that making fragrance requires poetry, art, humour and stylish ingenuity. The brand has a kind of outlandish feel to it and they believe that their scents evoke emotions and memories that are extremely personal."


I wouldn't quibble with any of that, especially the term "outlandish". Or maybe I would be more inclined to say "quirky". On the L'Artisan website, there is actually a category of perfumes called "Les Insolites", or the "Unusual / Strange ones".  Yes, Dzing!, Fou Absinthe, Dzongkha and Timbuktu strike me as being towards the odder and abstract end of the spectrum, while the likes of Premier Figuier, Mimosa pour Moi and Fleur d'Oranger are more accessible and representational in style. And that very broad brush distinction may have a lot to do with the different artistic styles of the various perfumers, such as Bertrand Duchaufour, Anne Flipo and Olivia Giacobetti.

I would also say that when I think of the L'Artisan range I never do so in terms of the classic fragrance families of "chypre" or "oriental" or "floral woody musk" etc, and would be hard pressed to pigeonhole any of the scents in the range using those categories. So in that regard they have certainly departed from the traditional conventions of perfumery and feel fresh and modern and very much "their own thing".  That said, the store design and cursive script of the L'Artisan logo, together with its stylistic nod towards the Art Deco era, simultaneously give the brand a classically elegant feel.


Coincidentally, I received a mailshot from Luckyscent only the other day, offering sample packs featuring L’Artisan’s “Ten Most Loved (and Legendary) Scents”, though in whose eyes is not clear to me – Luckyscent themselves, L’Artisan? I imagine the latter. And what is the basis of either of the terms “loved” and “legendary”? Most talked about? Biggest sellers?

Anyway, the samples include Fou d’Absinthe, which is described as an “olfactory craziness” (confirming our quirky hypothesis – again, I am assuming this is L’Artisan copy), while other scents such as Premier Figuier are (as I posited above) almost photorealistic representations of the scent: “Green crunchy notes of the leaves, milky sap of branches, sweetness of fruit and woody notes of the trunk.” Now I also associate a number of the scents with a strong sense of place – capturing a travel experience in a fragrance, and Premier Figuier is also an example of this: “Evokes a nap in the shade of a fig tree in the South of France”. Timbuktu, meanwhile, is a “wild (there we go with offbeat again) yet sophisticated fragrance inspired by a journey to Mali in West Africa…”


Turning from the scents themselves to L’Artisan’s competitors, I guess L'Artisan must compete with a ton of brands from the more exclusive lines of Guerlain and Chanel to a plethora of smaller houses. If I had to suggest which other brands share L'Artisan's "broadly modern" vibe, I'd probably go with Parfumerie Générale, The Different Company, Byredo, Diptyque and Malle, also Le Labo, Ormonde Jayne, Humiecki & Graef and Mona di Orio - with the rider that some of these feel more spare and "clinically modern" in design terms than L'Artisan.  And  conversely, the brands I would not think of include Creed, Piguet, Les Parfums d'Empire, Lorenzo Villoresi, Amouage, Etro, Les Parfums de Nicolai, Maître Parfumeur Gantier, Floris, or possibly even Penhaligon's.

Then as for its degree of exclusivity, or "nicheness" - I mean within the niche market itself - L'Artisan feels somewhere around mid-field. Parfumerie Générale feels a tad more upmarket to me, as does Mona di Orio or Ormonde Jayne, though not by much, and this is a very subjective impression. I guess it depends how often you encounter any given brand in your own perfume shopping orbit. Yes, it may come down to some function of perceived “retail exposure" combined with price, maybe, or even the number of fragrances in the line.  At some level I haven't quite put my finger on, having too many scents may devalue the range - as with Creed (in my view), which also suffers from overly wide - and qualitatively mixed - distribution.

On this very point, here is a thought-provoking post by Perfumeshrine about L’Artisan’s place in the grand scheme of things, in which she speculates on whether the recent discontinuations suggest the house can no longer afford to focus as much on the more oddball favourites in the line, which may be slow movers. Though I guess it is a commercial business at the end of the day. Oh, and it seems that L’Artisan will be sold in Sephora shortly, which may take its niche reputation down a notch?



But enough of my thoughts about L'Artisan Parfumeur, what say you?

What attributes or values does the brand evoke for you?

To what extent are you interested in what L’Artisan stands for, or its position in the market – is it all about the scent?

How niche does the brand feel to you, and which other houses - if any - have a range with a similar feel?

And for good measure, any thoughts on the current packaging, or on any new creative directions in which it could be taken that would give it more of a wow factor / sense of drama?  (The brief does say that L'Artisan wants to break the rules of conventional packaging.)

NB I have checked out the pack concepts of some of the competing entries and a couple involve integral uplighting in the actual box!

Now Kirsten may have picked the short straw by choosing me to help her gain a better understanding of people's perceptions of the L'Artisan brand, because out of all the perfume blogs she could have lit upon, Bonkers is not one that attracts very many comments as a rule. So in a bid to rally people to the cause of her project, I am holding a L'Artisan giveaway!

Anyone who leaves a comment addressing any of the questions above about the L'Artisan brand will be eligible to win a decant of Séville à L'Aube from my bottle (if you don't wish to be entered into the draw, please say so).   It is open to readers everywhere, regardless of postal regulations! I fly in the face of postal regulations!  The draw ends on Sunday 24th February at midnight GMT.

UPDATE: In view of the number of people commenting who already have Séville à L'Aube, I am adding the option of a Travalo atomiser as an alternative, which will hopefully appeal to everyone!





Drawing of L'Artisan bottles from the company's website, photo of green bottle from the D & AD website, L'Artisan logo from thespiceloftproject.blogspot.co.uk, photo of Grasse from thalassoleil.fr, photo of Bertrand Duchaufour from magazin.e15.cz, photo of Mali from deahanmediaworld.co.kr, photo of Séville à L'Aube my own.

42 comments:

  1. I'm not sure what to think about LaP these days, they are being sold on QVC in the UK, and in Sephoras, so they are clearly no longer "niche". They have some wonderful and unusual perfumes, but are discontinuing some of the best, like Dzing. They got rid of Vanilia, started selling Havane Vanille, renamed it some other thing, and then discontinued it, too. Huh??? This poor student, she has the Marketing Assignment From Hell.... She should read Dilbert to calm her nerves....

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  2. First off, I recently ordered a sample of Seville a l'Aube (eagerly awaiting the arrival of it and its traveling partners) so I definitely don't want to be included in the draw.

    I'm also not likely be useful for the project itself as I'm still very new to the wider world of perfume. The only place I've sniffed Artisan is at Aedes in NYC, though I did recently notice some Artisan scents on Sephora.com (though not in the store I visited last weekend) so it definitely seems as if they are going more mainstream.

    In any case, I'm just commenting, really, because I think this is an interesting project. I've enjoyed reading your thoughts on it and I'll be checking back to see what others have to say.

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  3. Vanessa, I think you already touched on two of the main things that come to mind for me when I think of L'Artisan fragrances. To my mind, the brand is very reflective of the global world we live in: it seems to celebrate Culture with an all-encompassing capital C, and does so in a very modern and uncluttered way (they aren't giving us oriental romanticism the way it was wrought in vintage perfumes or even in current perfumes from brands like Caron, Montale, Amouage and Xerjoff, for instance ... or even some of the earlier Serge Lutens fragrances). So, when you say that the fragrance line has a "sense of place" and that it breaks away from classicism, I'm agreeing with you that I see these two things as most distinctive about the company.

    I don't find the line all that quirky and outlandish, though ... not on the whole.

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  4. Hi Marla,

    Thanks for chipping in! I didn't know that about QVC in the UK - that does put a different complexion on things. Another factor may be that a person's perception of how "niche" a brand is is relative to the options in their own town. In my case Narciso Rodriguez would be exotic, say, based on my local access, so using this yardstick L'Artisan does have niche cachet for me personally. Probably less so for someone in a bigger city - or who clocked its presence on QVC!

    Then you and Elena both feel the same about the discontinued lines - I will certainly miss Dzing!

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  5. Hi karen!

    Lovely to hear from you and your exclamation mark! I appreciate your commenting even if you are not too familiar yet with the brand.

    It looks like the online presence of L'Artisan on Sephora will be followed soon by a B & M one...

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  6. Hi Suzanne,

    Thanks so much for summing up your own personal take on L'Artisan's brand values in such eloquent terms. It is good to have confirmation of my point about a sense of place and the "uncluttered" modernist vibe. And you are so right that it isn't the sort of stuffy oriental romanticism of a Xerjoff or Grossmith.

    I have been giving your comment on outlandishness more thought, and I think where I get the "quirky" impression from is the names of the fragrances as much - or maybe even more than - the scents themselves. Mechant Loup, Safran Troublant, Batacuda - some of them are pretty mad! And it is this handful of odder names / scents that casts a halo effect over the rest of the portfolio for me, though I totally accept that the likes of Mimosa pour Moi or L'Ete en Douce are very tame and demure by comparison!

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  7. Vanessa, you're probably right regarding the quirkiness. Most of the L'Artisan fragrances smell quite tame to me (even Merchant Loup, much as I love that name), but they are going for some quirkier concepts, I suppose. Good point that you make!

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  8. I find it difficult to summon up enthusiasm for the L'Artisan line. I haven't liked much of what I tried -- though Safran Troublant was instant love. That said, it lasted 10 minutes on me with my normal application. But some of the others resulted in flat-out dislike, bordering on hatred. (Passage d'Enfer, I'm looking at you most of all! Though Nuit de Tubereuse, you're not all that safe either!)

    As a whole, I do find the line to be odd but the most instant word association in my mind is "light." "Sheer," "airy" and "not long lasting" too. (Though, unfortunately, that bloody Passage d'Enfer lasted too long for my liking.)

    They hit Sephora last month with 7 scents (not the full line) and since I have a large, unused Sephora gift card, you'd think I'd be thrilled. Well, my only reaction is a faint shrug.

    A number of my hardcore perfume addict friends in real life are similarly unenthused. I think "bored" may be a better word, actually, for their reaction. For one, it's the troubling longevity issue. For another, the weirdness of the scents that he's tried thus far (though, he too loved Safran Troublant). Another actually commented last month that she dismissed the brand because she hated the packaging. I think she thought it was not only boring but old-fashioned looking -- to which my male friend somewhat agreed, though he didn't mind the Art Deco feel of it. But none of us seem to have the slightest passion for the brand as a whole and, when seeking out samples or being curious about a perfume, not once is "L'Artisan" on the lips of anyone that I know in real life. The exception might be Seville A L'Aube -- except those I know who've tried it didn't like it. (Are you seeing a common theme amongst my friends in real life? lol)

    I don't know how much any of this will help your poor student. I agree with someone else up above who said that she has the Marketing Assignment from Hell.

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  9. I'd like to help but I'm not really sure my opinion will have any merit. :)
    L'Artisan is one of my favourite houses if I'm to go by the number of their bottles I currently own.

    I consider them niche but the most approachable niche house as they are usually the widest available (practically every niche perfume store carries them) and they are often the first niche line through which newbie perfumistas get into the world. They are at the same time very accessible to the new nose through their range but also strange enough that even hardcore perfumistas find something to love in their line.
    To my mind, they are like the universally spread Serge Lutenses. While SL are Parisian and more exclusive by style, L'Artisans are global and easily approachable while still retaining a French style.
    Am I making any sense?

    P.S. NO need to enter me for Seville.

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  10. I do not really care for what most companies/brands stand - unless something in their behavior or esthetics contradicts what I stand for.

    Until now I haven't had much love for the brand but no real dislike either. Now I'm waiting with interest to see who will be the nose behind their next perfume.

    For me L'Artisan doesn't feel more niche than, let's say, Jo Malone or Annick Goutal.

    I think choosing Sephora as a sales partner cheapens the brand. They should have created a sub-brand or a "project" for Sephora (the way Le Labo and Ineke did it for Anthropologie or Missoni for Target).

    Do not enter meinto the draw: I swapped recently a decant of it so it should be enough for me for this summer.

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  11. Hi Suzanne,

    Yes, quirky concepts and names for sure, sometimes quirkier than the scents within. And of course there is also that old chestnut that "one man's weird is another man's tame"! I think your and my tastes demonstrate that up to a point, with me being more at the Ellena / Giacobetti end of the spectrum, stylewise. : - )

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  12. Hi Kafka,

    Thanks for your detailed and thoughtful comment. First off, we both love Safran Troublant, though I sense I am luckier on the longevity side of things, as I am with most scents, even the supposed diaphanous wisps!

    Nuit de Tubereuse was a no-no for me too, indeed I wrote a satirical review of it - well more a satire of my very different (as in more squalid) experience of hot Parisian nights than of the scent itself, though I did refer to it in conclusion as "the most Plastic Bertrand" BD has ever created. And my nose did also read it as well weird, so we are also agreed on the odd point. And I have no problem with odd in principle - well, if it is my kind of odd, say!

    http://bonkersaboutperfume.blogspot.co.uk/2010/08/world-doesnt-need-another-review-of.html

    Now even though the fragrances last pretty well on me, I completely agree with your "light" / "sheer" / "airy" assessment. Traversee du Bosphore and Vanille Absolument being exceptions to the rule, perhaps.

    And then you make the excellent point about you and your friends not getting excited about new launches, and being overcome by a general "ennui" where the brand is concerned. I get that too! I was excited about the release of Seville a l'Aube - madly so, indeed - and wasn't disappointed, but hearing about new launches doesn't tend to fire me up, no. That is a very key issue you have raised, which is why it is great that they are seeking to inject a bit of a wow factor back into the brand. Well, assuming they take the winning design forward into production, and it isn't just a mock task for students with no ultimate commercial purpose.

    Re the packaging, I still like the current design well enough, with its foot in both the modern and classical camps, however, I am agog to see what some of these students come up with. Of the two underlit concepts I spotted, one had the bottle in the shape of a sleek battery!

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  13. Hi Ines,

    You are making a ton of sense, and in fact you should be spearheading L'Artisan's marketing strategy! That is a lovely summation of how the range is accessible and good for newbie perfumistas, yet has unusual things for the more hardened fumehead. And I agree also that L'Artisan is about as ubiquitous as Serge Lutens, but feels more global and approachable and less Parisian / exclusive in focus.

    In fact, given that I agree with everything you say, I wonder why I still feel the brand could do with this fillip, this injection of drama, and why I don't get excited about the new releases in the way I would about a new Mona di Orio or Ormonde Jayne, say. Or even a new SL - I am very excited to try Fille de Berlin, for example, thanks to Kafka's recent review!

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  14. Hi Undina,

    Yup, I agree with your analogy with Annick Goutal and Jo Malone in terms of where L'Artisan sits in the niche playing field. It is funny how many of my "regular" friends enter niche via Jo Malone and think they have stumbled upon something quite exclusive and special, yet to us hardcore fumeheads the brand has become rather commonplace...what the French so aptly term as: "banalisée".

    Your idea about creating a sub brand for the more mainstream outlets is excellent. I have an Urban Retreat scent called Reverie, created by Roja Dove, and snapped up in T K Maxx of all places!

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  15. PS Undina, did both Le Labo and Ineke do the Anthropologie scents? I tried those in the States once and never guessed their pedigree. And of course here in the UK Lyn Harris has created a range for Marks & Spencer, though I am having hell's delight trying to track them down!

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  16. Very interesting project, and not an easy one!

    Personally I agree with Ines in that L'Artisan is the most accessible niche brand. You can find it at Space NK on "upmarket" high streets outside of London in the UK. I agree though that selling via a television shopping channel does rather cheapen the brand. We like niche partly because it is a bit exclusive!

    Regarding what else sets them apart from the other brands Kirsten mentioned. They are also more accessible in terms of price and an awful lot cheaper than By Kilian and Frederic Malle. Easier to wear than Serge Lutens, more interesting than Lubin and better quality (in my perception)than Diptyque. The bottles are nice and heavy and I think their image over all is stylish and good quality. I agree that they have an international and outward looking focus while coming from a French standpoint.

    The range is very wide so there's something for everyone and I regard their perfumes as consistently of good quality. They also work with a lot of the world's best perfumers. (I couldn't name a single Diptyque perfumer, for example). They are elegant, quirky perfumes you can wear everyday and not have to save for a special occasion (because of wearability/price).

    Rather long comment, hope it helps!

    Oh and thanks for the draw V but as you may recall, I have a FB of Seville.

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  17. Heh, Nuit de Tubereuse was a dud on you too?

    I understand that re-packaging the scent is an attempt to inject some "wow" back into the brand. What I didn't manage to explain well is that, for a number of people I know in real life, I doubt packaging alone will do the trick. Because their real issue is the nature of the perfumes themselves.

    As for bottles in the shape of batteries, well, hmm... I think that the current style will appeal to those new to niche perfumes and who see the brand on QVC, while a bottle like a battery? I have to wonder. I actually read a QVC thread a few weeks ago on perfume. Someone was asking about Fracas and many of the posters wrote about how it was outrageously expensive and said that they wore scents like Lady Stetson, Estee Lauder, or the like. I can't see people like that being pulled in by a really funky, modernistic bottle design.

    By the same token, I can't see people who spend a lot of money on things like a niche Guerlain or Kilian lockbox being too gaga about it either. I know a lot of people who are turned off by Montale solely because of the bottle. So, I'm not sure that bottle re-packaging will be their best bet.

    You know, recently, I read that --- prior to the release of Absolue Pour Le Soir -- a number of people were bored by the Maison Francis Kurkdjian line. There was nothing with a POW or WOW factor. I think L'Artisan might do better creating some richer, more molten, resinous scents than just simply changing the packaging to something more modernistic. Using richer ingredients, and having an ad campaign that focuses on the exoticism and luxuriousness of the ingredients -- personally, I think that would be a better way to go.

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  18. Hi Tara,

    Your long comment was full of great points, so thanks very much!

    Another vote for "accessible niche", and "international focus from a French base".

    You are right to mention their good value versus some of the more exclusive brands. Easier to wear than Serge I would also agree with!

    I do like the bottles too and think they are chunky and good quality. And as you say, the L'Artisan perfumers are more memorable than those of certain other houses.

    I think the image of the brand is coming together fairly consistently from everyone's comments - will be interested to see who else chimes in!

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  19. Hi Kafka,

    Thanks for taking a second bite at the cherry, homing in on the bottle redesign aspect - I know what you mean about anything too wacky running the risk of alienating perfume lovers at both ends of the spectrum. Or the ones in the middle, even! The battery idea is probably too futuristic - of the entries I have seen so far (Kirsten is still at the drawing board stage, I assume), I quite liked the more graphic approach of this student:

    http://www.behance.net/gallery/LArtisan-Parfumeur-re-brand/6879461

    It's more of a mood board than finished concepts at this point, but I like the detailed line drawings with the Art Deco theme.

    I am someone who is turned off by both the Montale bottle and the Maison Kurkdjian ones! That is definitely a range I have got bored with - it is much less colourful for one thing. L'Artisan has the bright colours contrasting with the black boxes, while Maison Kurkdjian packaging seems very bland by comparison. Amd not wild about Atelier Cologne either for similar reasons.

    I think you are right that ingredients and perfumery styles could inject excitement back into the brand, but I think some kind of a packaging reworking could also help, as long as it is not too radical a departure.

    which is the nub of this brief. Whether Kirsten might win points for initiative by

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  20. Vanessa,

    This is a jolly good and thought-provoking post! I've enjoyed it so much that I thought I'd respond to all the questions you posed.

    What attributes or values does the brand evoke for you?

    I think LAP isn't afraid to have fun, but even amidst the fun the fragrances are most definitely wearable (i.e. they are not Secretions Magnifique).

    To what extent are you interested in what L’Artisan stands for, or its position in the market – is it all about the scent?

    For me it's all about the scent... unless market forces threaten things I love. For example, the discontinuation of Iris Pallida makes me very sad indeed!

    How niche does the brand feel to you, and which other houses - if any - have a range with a similar feel?

    They are still niche in terms of product distribution; I'd say it's relatively limited but definitely less so than other niche-y brands. To begin with they can be found in most high-end department stores such as Harrods, Selfridges, Liberty etc. If increasing their distribution leads to a fall in prices while quality remains the same, I'd support them wholeheartedly. I don't need to smell exclusive, I just want to smell good!

    And for good measure, any thoughts on the current packaging, or on any new creative directions in which it could be taken that would give it more of a wow factor / sense of drama?

    I think it's fine the way it is.

    Thanks for hosting this draw! I'd love to be part of it! :)

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  21. I think L'Artisan is one of the more accessible niche perfume brands in that it's easier to find than many, and it has a range of fragrances from the easy (Mure et Musc and Drole de Rose, for example) to the more difficult (Timbuktu and Dzongka). When people ask me where to start with perfume, I often point them to L'Artisan. There they can figure out what style of perfume they like without having to brave a tsunami of popular smell-alikes at the department store.

    To me, L'Artisan is like the department store lines of some couture brands. It's edgy and diverse enough to attract attention, but not so freaky as to shrink its base. It don't pander to trends (Al Oudh was on the front edge of the oud explosion) but doesn't wander too far astray, either. Wearing L'Artisan, you can feel original without having to dare actually being original--you know what I mean?

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  22. Whoops! Forgot to add that I have a bottle of Seville a l'aube, so please don't enter me in the draw.

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  23. Hi Joshua,

    Nice to see you again and I am glad you enjoyed the post!

    Wearable fun - yes, agree with that.

    I was interested in your take on the distribution angle, and how exclusivity matters less to you. I suppose I am a bit that way, in that I just scored a brand new Wedgwood teapot that retails for over £100 for £10.47 on Ebay, so store environment and a fancy carrier bag can't mean all that much to me. Yet at some subliminal level, where perfume is concerned, I think I do worry about a niche brand popping up in too many "ordinary" places. And as you say, they are still niche relative to so many other lines on the market.

    Another vote for the current packaging - I certainly don't think Kirsten should go too wild in her designs.

    You're in the draw!

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  24. Hi Angela,

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this - really appreciate your input.

    Accessibility is a theme coming through the comments so far, and the fact that the range offers easier and more difficult scents. I introduced my best friend to niche via Premier Figuier, as it happens, from which she went on to discover Fleur d'Oranger, and now has bottles of each.

    I love your image of L'Artisan being the "department store line of couture brands", and can relate to that very well. "Edgy" and "diverse" are also helpful words for Kirsten's brainstorming / mood board!

    In the light of so many people saying they already have Seville a l'Aube, I am going to amend the options for the draw so everyone is in with a chance of something they'd like to win!

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  25. Vanessa,

    Ineke has a line Floral Curiosities that for a while could be found only in Anthropologie but now they are alsoavailable from Ineke's website.

    With Le Labo it was slightly different: there were five perfumes named not in Le Labo's manner and they had a brand "From the makers of Le Labo" - or something like that. They weren't bad but weren't extra popular as well. Now there is only one still available on the site and I do not know if they are coming back.

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  26. Hi Undina,

    Thanks for the update. I just looked up the Floral Curiosities line and it wasn't those I saw in the Anthropologie store I visited.

    So then I looked up Anthropologie's current online selection of scents, and didn't recognise them especially, with the possible exception of Happ & Stahns!

    In other news, I am trying Encens Mythique today again and it is very nice, brighter than I remember. Not FBW, but decent-sized decantworthy, for sure. : - )

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  27. To all of you who participated and shared your views and opinions, thank you! :) You have all been such a great help! You have really managed to paint the picture of L'Artisan an this will really help me with brainstorming concepts for the packaging design.

    To Vanessa, thank you for all your hard work, time and appealing to your bloggers to get involved! :) I am eternally grateful. I have had lots of fun working on this with you. I have learnt a lot!

    I have chosen my overall concept, drawn from the insights gained by your comments. I also feel that re-designing the packaging for L'Artisan will not be enough. The brand needs to work on their internal communication to stop confusing consumers, like yourselves, about discontinuing scents, etc.

    I will try keep you all updated with my designs! :) I would love the input!

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  28. Hi Kirsten,

    It has been a pleasure and a lot of fun working with you on this, and I wish you all the best with the rest of your project.

    A special word of thanks to all the readers who chipped in with their views - there are definite patterns emerging, I thought.

    It was the first time I had thought to sit down and analyse my perceptions of the L'Artisan brand, so this brainstorming session with fellow perfumistas has also taught me a lot!

    I will announce the results of the draw in due course...

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  29. Just out of the shower, smelling slightly figgy...

    What I like about AP is that they seem to have respect for their customers. They offer well-made products at non-outrageous prices. I truly hate how some outfits seems to think they can offer over-priced mediocrity, and many do succeed in duping the public, sad to say.

    I have yet to find a perfume of AP's I want to wear, though, but I like the bath products, as above. Their perfume packaging is nice, maybe with slightly dated caps, but I completely love the deco bottles for the dry oil. Any change in their packaging should continue to show respect for their current customer base in the process of finding new customers. --AnnieA

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  30. Hey hey,
    When it comes to full bottles L'Artisan is the best represented company in my collection. Ever since I first read about them there has been a resonance for me that continues till today. I don't own many of the quirky ones unless you count Piment Brulant as quirky or oddball. Though they are not extremely long lived as a rule I love their interesting and often beautiful takes on notes, the bottle that is perfectly shaped and so lovingly engraved, their fun and frivolity as well as their reasonable asking prices. I'm glad that they are taking a close look at a brand I love, I was recently talking to someone way more steeped in frag lore than me who felt that L'Artisan had lost their sense of self, marketing strategy and indeed contact with the very people who should be most courted, perfumistas. I'm not sure about that because they are still very highly though of in my books.
    DNEM,
    Portia xx

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  31. I think that L'Artisan is more creative than other niche perfume lines. Frederic Malle makes beautiful perfumes, but there is nothing particularly novel about them. I have never in my life smelled anything like L'Artisan Bois Farine or Dzing! L'ARTISAN APOLOGIST FOR LYFEEEE. And iiiiii would be just delighted with a decant of Seville, please count me in!

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  32. I think niche splitted in several sections: uber expensive/designed, weird/shocking,impossible to find,etc
    AP still stands,in my opinion, for "old" niche making great quality,beautifully crafted scents,while respecting their costumers
    thanks for the draw, Vanessa

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  33. Hello, Vanessa!

    L'Artisan has recently expanded its presence in the Japan market--both the number of shops carrying it and the number of fragrances available. In Tokyo, it is almost impossible to get a sample to take home--sprays on skin or paper only. So I usually sniff them in a crowded olfactory environment. The 'outlandish' ones are the best at standing up to that situation. The more conventional ones don't make much of an impression. Also, the bottles are a key point. Using the same design, just varying the name and label color makes it seem kind of generic, like a spice rack. Rather than getting rid of the unusual ones, they should highlight them with unique bottles. Arresting, varied designs. Japanese consumers are sensitive to visual design, and they appreciate something that is stunning without being flashy or over the top.

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  34. Hi AnnieA,

    You smell good!

    That's a great point you make about L'Artisan showing respect for its customers. It doesn't take the p*** with its packaging or prices, and you are so right about the public sometimes being duped by products that are sub-standard in quality. It is easy to get sucked into the glamour and hype surrounding the very high end brands. I think I have been myself on occasions!

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  35. Hi Portia,

    Nice to see you! I have been following your European travels over on OT etc. : - )

    I think these will prove to be two key attributes of L'Artisan in Kirsten's analysis: "fun and frivolity" and "reasonable asking prices".

    Re the marketing side, a few of the commenters to this post feel that L'Artisan has lost its way a bit, mainly by widening its distribution and knocking some of the old favourites on the head. And maybe they do need to do a bit more to retain the support of perfumistas.

    I only have one bottle - having swapped one away! - but there are several others I would happily own. And my first purchase of a niche fragrance was L'Artisan, which I think is also significant, and which chimes with the views of the others on here.

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  36. PS What is DNEM? Is it Russian?

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  37. Hi Ari!

    Yes, L'Artisan is majorly creative all right. I had forgotten your great love and my skull and crossbones decant(!), Bois Farine - bread sauce on a bread board - how mad is that?

    You're in the draw!

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  38. Hi Irina,

    If I cast my mind back to how the market was when I first got into perfume (2008) and how it looks now, I see how absolutely spot on you are about the market having split off in different directions. I can readily think of brands that fit into the categories you mention.

    That's exactly it - L'Artisan is "old niche". And we used to be perfectly happy with that....

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  39. Hi Johnl,

    Thanks so much for commenting, and bringing us a view from Japan. I was interested to hear about your sampling experiences, and I can imagine how only the more unusual scents would stand up in that hectic retail environment.

    You also raise an interesting question about not having too homogeneous range designwise, and I can totally relate to your analogy with a spice rack! How practical it might be to vary the bottle design for scents that may not survive commercially even in an standard bottle (witness the recent discontinuations) I don't know, but I know what you mean about the bottles being a bit samey!

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  40. I'm from Spain and here L'Artisan are not very popular, those perfumes are sold in very few places.
    I'm quite newbie to niche houses and L'Artisan's fragrance was the first that I bought for my fragrant collection, I think that the first thing that I liked was their names-chasse aux papillons, mechant loup, I thought that they were very original, for me this house is ¨niche¨ with great traditions, I know that there are a lot of more ¨indie¨ houses, but L'Artisan is great for someone who's strating his fragrance journey as they are quite ¨easy¨ not like Vero Profumo ¨Onda¨ which is great, but you should be more open minded to understand it.

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  41. Hi Victorian,

    Thanks so much taking the time to comment and to give us the view from Spain. Having perspectives from different countries is really interesting, given that L'Artisan has customers worldwide.

    You are confirming the perception of quite a few of us here that the brand is "entry level niche", in a good way, so thanks for that!

    You are in the draw...

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  42. PS I am not yet able to appreciate Onda too!

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