Sunday, 24 September 2017

The Scent Crimes Series: No 19 - Diptyque's email marketing campaign: "You can unsubscribe, but you can never leave", and how I finally 'addressed' the issue

I like Diptyque a lot. Their perfumes, I mean. I own a bottle of Eau Duelle - which I did admittedly try to sell - but that was only because it was 100ml and I was never going to get through it, given the size of my stash generally. I had already decanted more than enough for my ongoing needs. Anyway, that didn't come to anything, because the buyer noticed that the top notes had vamoosed, causing the scent's pyramid structure to collapse like a building brought down in a controlled implosion...only a lot slower, and in a way that was sadly imperceptible to its owner. I also have a bottle of Volutes edt in a more manageable 50ml format. I love that, and expect to use it all by and by - which is fighting talk, I know. Indeed Volutes was my SOTE at the International Design and Architecture Awards ceremony I attended on Friday with M, the designer friend and colleague featured in my last post, one of whose wallpaper collections had made the shortlist. The Diptyque narrowly pipped Ta'if, because M is averse to all things spicy, from curries and barbecue flavour nuts to third party sillage that might accidentally waft into her vicinity. So Volutes it was.

Given that on the Belgian trip I forgot ALL my toiletries, you would think I would have been totally organised on our overnight stay in London. Yet I managed to bring not one but two toothbrushes, although I forgot the particular blusher that would have gone with my outfit, and also forgot the brush that would have gone with the blusher I did bring, which was the wrong colour. Meanwhile, M forgot perfume! Or rather, a choice of perfume. She did find a small mini of Gucci Flora in the bottom of her handbag, but I managed to talk her out of it as being more of a daytime scent, and tipped a bag of samples on the bed for her consideration, that I had hastily grabbed before leaving. Interestingly, M was drawn to Jo Malone Peony and Blush Suede, which like the Gucci features peony, but the suede note just tipped it into more evening-y territory. Meanwhile, the 'Blush' in the name teasingly underlined my latest senior moment on the makeup front.

The view from Table 38

But back to Diptyque. I am keen to set my stall out as a general fan of the brand. I also love their sample presentation, in those dear little slide-y out boxes, with their striking monochrome livery. Some of which have ended up going the band's way for that very reason. And my brother and his wife are also big fans - I'd say Diptyque is probably their joint favourite house along with Miller Harris, and anytime they come within orbit of a Diptqyque concession, they inevitably make 'his and hers' purchases, most recently Oyédo and 34 Boulevard Saint Germain respectively.

What else is there to say about Diptyque? They are famously - and fabulously - generous with their free samples, which astonishing largesse moved me to devote a whole post to the subject!

But when it comes to Diptyque's direct marketing activities, or more specifically their email campaigns with news of offers, launches, and what have you, the company annoyed the heck out of me. I must have received at least one email a week - or that is my perception, which is what counts at the end of the day, and this doesn't remotely correlate with the frequency of my thinking about the brand, let alone considering a further purchase. Which is what I find irritating about overly frequent email contact by perfume houses: the assumption - not arrogance exactly, but perhaps more a belief in the power of attrition to bludgeon the consumer into submission, I don't know - but it is certainly taken as read that you are sufficiently interested in the brand to want to hear from them as often as it pleases them to mail you. Why, I don't want to hear from my dearest friends that often, never mind a fragrance brand!

I put up with this for months, maybe even years - my recall is happily vague on the matter - then it got to the point where I simply didn't read the emails anymore before deleting them. And eventually my frustration gained such a head of steam that I tried to unsubscribe in the usual way. And yet the emails kept coming, even after factoring in a period of 'tailing off' grace, while Diptyque got their databases in order. And still they came... So I kept deleting them, and periodically unsubscribing again whenever I could be bothered, though by now I was not at all hopeful of it working. It was very much a case of being stuck in that Hotel California song of the title...

"Trouble viewing this email?" I wish!!!

And it wasn't as though the emails were amusing, like those ones I used to get with similar frequency from Signature Fragrances, which also spawned an (amused and maddened) blog post.

In the end, on 13th September, the penny suddenly dropped as to why the unsubscribing process was failing to stick to the wall. While the emails were coming to my correct address, the pop up asking me to confirm that I wanted my email to be removed from their list referred to an address that was not mine!

It was!! WTF??

So seconds later, I dashed off an email to Diptyque's general address explaining what was going on, and asking them to additionally remove my blog address - - for good measure. And that finally seems to have done the trick. Big sigh of relief. But it would have been nice to have had a human response, apologising either for the glitch in the unsubscribing mechanism, or for the deluge of emails that preceded it. And had their campaigns not been so intense in the first place, I would not have minded receiving them, whereas now I know I could miss news of a new perfume that might be right up my street. And there are also some very attractive illustrations to Diptyque's emails, such as this bird and foliage one, promoting what I take to be a new release, Exuberant Vetiver, though obviously I haven't read it. ;)

Source: Diptyque

So this is my second post now about excessive direct marketing. Sign of the times, I guess.

Do you have any pet peeves to bring to the table - or the inbox, rather? I would love to know who you consider as the worst offendors.

Or does that sort of intensive mailing not bother you?

Oh, and here is another shot of the hotel where the awards ceremony was held. There are no actual volutes on this particular column - that would be the ones with Ionic capitals, I see in Wikipedia - but note the recurring palm theme in this post. ;) Yes, along with pineapples, I am a sucker for palms in all their guises!


  1. I recently re-activated an old email address. Never dreamed that they, hello AT&T, would have left all of it on the server, but they did, and I had to download and delete roughly 70,000 messages -- all junk -- before it would stop. Now, I'm getting emails from companies I know I never subscribed to (Jockey Underwear?) and am sure that Diptyque won't be far behind.

    1. Hi Olfacta,

      Oh my Lord, that sounds like an absolute nightmare. I have had up to 1000 at a time on an old Tiscali server, but that takes the biscuit. It must feel like being totally swamped as you wait for the tidal wave of downloading to end.

      For your sake I sincerely hope the new marketers are not too many and various now they know you are on the end of that address...;(

  2. Despite being - as you mention - a fan, I've never had an email from them. Though I expect that as I have now typed that on the internet Google is speed dialling them and they will be on to me like wolves on a limping bison.

    1. Hi Hazel,

      Oh golly, do keep me posted. The little bird that advertises Exuberant Vetiver is charming, certainly. I just wish brands would take a moment to imagine the reality of what it feels like to receive that number of emails from them.

      Now it may be possible that I failed to opt out of receiving the emails in the first place, but I am pretty sure that I would never have opted in. And that goes for any company from which I make a purchase or interact with in some way.

      Oops, hold on. A quick google reveals that the perfume is actually called Vetyverio - 'Exuberant Vetiver' is the strapline to the ad!

  3. Oh my god this post made me laugh out loud! The forgetting to pack stuff for an overnight trip, welcome to my life. Except my forgetfulness never strays into the make up arena since I don’t wear it, but I can usually be counted on to forget oh I don’t know – a clean shirt or another pair of socks. ����‍♂️ And yeah I’m not sure why it’s so hard to unsubscribe, I get inundated with emails from Penhaligon reminding me that I only have “33 more seconds to take advantage of their once-in-a-lifetime sale“ which is apparently so much more than the sale they had the week before. Ugh. Makes me insane....

    1. Hi Robert,

      Glad it amused you, and that you could relate to being forgetful on trips! How do we manage to do that, given that we are all seasoned travellers?

      I seem to be spared the Penhaligon's ones, or maybe I successfully unsubscribed some time ago. Trying to whip you up into a purchasing fervour like that is never going to work, or not with me. It also reminds me of those big sofa stores that are permanently on sale.

  4. Perfume companies should re-thing their marketing strategy: I can see how a once-in-a-while e-mail about a new launch, sale or special gift set might interest me and push me towards buying something from the site. But when I keep getting those e-mails every several days, I just stop paying attention and delete them without opening. In my current inbox the worst offenders are Jo Malone and Thierry Mugler.

    But I see your story and raise you my struggle with Microsoft Support. About six weeks ago I suddenly started getting weekly Family activity Reports on some person's activity (browsing history, XBox gaming time). This person isn't set up as a child on my account - so I cannot remove him. I tried explaining to the representatives that it is a privacy violation for that person and a potentially endangering a minor: a complete stranger is getting name, e-mail address and information about what that kid is reading online and which games and for how long he's playing. I've already spent a couple of hours chatting with the Customer Support, they ensure me that they are doing something about it - and the next week again I'm getting that report.

    1. Hi Undina,

      Yes, I quite agree that it is all about frequency, and so many companies overstep the mark. They are not in our minds - or our wallets - as often as they would like to think. Jo Malone I definitely shed a while ago, though it took some time for their emails to peter out. I don't think Mugler has ever contacted me.

      And what a shocking story of how you are getting the browsing history of some random child. That's the surfing equivalent of a crossed line on the phone, where you are suddenly able to listen into someone else's phone call. That used to happen occasionally in the old days of telephony and was very weird. And felt inappropriate as you say. Good luck getting your case sorted.

  5. I have a very low tolerance for marketing emails, even from brands I like. I am a serial unsubscriber. I never thought it would be possible that they had the pop-up could connect to the wrong email address though! I don't think I'm subscribed to any perfume houses at the moment.

    I wouldn't have thought there was much point in emailing as often as once a week or even fortnight. Who can afford a new bottle of perfume that often? Surely there is no real news on such a frequent basis either.

    I would have loved an evening at The Dorchester (or any time really!). Hope you had a grand time despite forgetting your matching blush. You looked wonderful.

    1. Hi Tara,

      Good to know another 'serial unsubscriber'. I am astonished at how the wrong email address snuck into their system, but it is just one of those strange glitches.

      I think the frequent emails are a sort of guerrilla warfare - apparently you do need multiple contacts to trigger action by consumers, and have even seen some stats to that effect. So maybe I simply don't behave in a typical way as it just gets on my nerves!

      The night at The Dorchester was surreally good, thank you, including the food and wine. I met a man from the bathroom fittings company where I got my (short, thin!) towel rail, and personally thanked him for having the foresight to design such a thing. I even showed him a picture on my phone, sad sap that I am. "Ah, the 300mm" he replied. Not bad recall at 1am when we had all been drinking since 7.30pm!

  6. Hi Vanessa. I did laugh at this as I feel the same way about Penhaglions. They are definitely the most frequent emailers - way more than Diptyque. You would have a heart attack if you subscribed! They also do tracking so that if you did click on something on their site they then email you to remind you that you may have forgotten to buy something or left something in the basket. Grrr. Weekly is way too often for a perfume brand email in my opinion. PS Love Volutes too.

    1. Hi Megan,

      Thanks for adding your warning to that of Robert's about Penhaligon's! I definitely got their emails in the past, but have blotted them from my mind, along with my email address.

      I know about that tracking business - to do with so-called 'abandoned cart recovery'.

      Glad you also love Volutes! There's much to appreciate about Diptyque, just not their email marketing. Though they are far from the only offendors as we have established.

  7. I totally agree with you, Vanessa. My other pet peeves are when unsubscribing, I am asked to say why, or asked which of their other emails I want! I am also deluged with "customer surveys" in my inbox. Every service I use and every store where I make a purchase wants me to share my "experience." Then there are the constant requests to review my purchases.

    1. Oh nbh, you have no idea what a chord your comment struck with me about those blasted little surveys and review requests. They have basically dragged the reputation of market research into disrepute, and taken away my living at a stroke. For my kind of research was based around having a proper conversation with people about what they liked and disliked - in an open-ended, flexible kind of way instead of a box ticking exercise. And clients have embraced the digital trend and don't want to pay for anything more than the dumbed down blanket market research campaigns with which we are all inundated.

  8. I'm so sorry to hear that! I've participated in your type of interview, and I found the experience pleasant. The problem with online reviews is that those who complete them are either highly disgruntled or insanely happy--not exactly a random sample! The data generated would never be reliable. Companies are making million-dollar decisions based on this data? That's totally nuts.