Saturday, 28 November 2015

A Swiss student's thesis on the influence of perfume blogs - one blogger's view!

Source: Wikipedia
Further to my recent post, requesting readers' help with a Swiss business student's online survey on the influence of perfume blogs, I feel enough time has passed since I published it to present my answers to Nina's survey for bloggers. I have added the odd thing I have thought of since, and made a couple of slight edits here and there, notably to the formatting. So here goes...

What is especially important to you when choosing a scent?

1. Trend
2. Recommendation
3. Ingredients
4. Origin
5. Price
6. Breakdown of scent
7. Design

"I sense this question is about buying a perfume, which I rarely do these days as I have so many already, and must not be encouraged to add to my existing (ridiculously big) collection! But if something did overcome my resistance at this point in my perfume hobby I would say ‘the way a fragrance smells’, which is different from ‘breakdown of scent’ in 6. I would not look for it to definitely contain x or y notes, though I would be curious after the fact to see what notes were in it to explain why I liked it so much. And sometimes it is not possible to detect the individual notes in a perfume but just be transported by a generally pleasant scent. So ‘how it smells’ is No 1, and then probably ‘Price’ would affect whether I actually bought it at all! ‘Design’ would be a factor of some importance - I recently blogged about how a cheap box that looked like it might contain condoms(!) would hamper sales of a perfume that was recently launched. The packaging must be broadly commensurate with the fragrance. But I am not bound by trends or origin, and tend to go on my own nose’s findings, though a fellow perfumista’s recommendation might steer me towards something now and then."

What is special about a perfume blog compared to a fashion blog, for example?

"Pass - I don't read fashion blogs so don't know what they are like or what they set out to do."

How often do you blog?

"Nowadays I aim for once a week, but work and ‘life’ sometimes sidetrack me, such that the frequency is a bit less often. At the start, nearly six years ago, I posted 2-3 times a week, but that is hard to sustain unless you are a professional."

Source: Wikipedia

How many followers do you have?

"172 at the time of writing. These are people who have actively chosen to follow the blog. I believe Wordpress has a different way of calculating followers, and may just ‘sweep up’ all your friends on Facebook, which is not the same thing at all, hehe. ;) I must be honest and say that if I lose a follower - I can never even work out who, never mind why, for I just see the tally change - it is surprisingly unsettling. I would like to talk to the person to find out what prompted them to stop reading, in case it is anything I can readily fix!"

Why do you blog?

1. Because you want to influence people
2. Because you want to inform
3. Because you would like to warn
4. Because you would like to educate
5. Because you enjoy it, because you are communicative
6. Because your followers value your opinion

"Quite simply - to entertain, which is closest to your #5, though not the same. Perfume is a hook on which to hang what I hope are amusing posts - oh, and I also write travelogues, which have the same aim, and may feature perfume sniffing along the way."

Are you able to describe a scent so well that people buy it without having smelled it beforehand?

"I doubt it very much, in fact I think I am quite bad at this. Yet somehow by dint of using metaphor and various images to conjure up a scent in different ways, I can convey something of its character, and some readers have said they have an idea of whether they might like a perfume or not from my reviews. But I would hope they would read quite a few more reviews before doing anything so rash as to blind buy a scent! That is a practice I don’t approve of - though I am guilty of it myself in the past, haha. I certainly don’t want to encourage it in others, because that way can lie disappointment and buyer’s remorse…;)"


In general, how do you estimate the influence of a perfume blog on the market?

"It depends which one you are talking about. There are some very authoritative, ‘senior bloggers’ with large followings and excellent noses - a couple of the ones I am thinking of are industry insiders, indeed - so their blogs would have influence, maybe more on the subset of the public who like niche perfume. I don’t know to what extent the mainstream market would be influenced by blogs - it tends to operate on woolly copy, pushy sales staff and glossy advertising, and to rely on impulse purchases at the point of sale. They are two different markets in my opinion."

Do you have the feeling that you can influence your readers?

"I really don’t know, because I only ‘engage’ with the small number of readers who leave comments, most of whom are also bloggers. ;) I have no idea what the 95+% of people think or do as a result of landing on Bonkers - or who they even are. It is possible that they do check out perfumes - and the beauty products I also occasionally review - on my blog and take my opinion into account, but I have no way of knowing."

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Do you read other perfume blogs or do you exchange ideas with other bloggers?

"Oh yes, routinely, and I comment on them. And sometimes we have done group blog post-type collaborations, though I haven’t been involved in one lately. I have met quite a lot of other bloggers in person, and they have become proper friends. We often email and message one another - every day I would have some conversations like that online."

Do you only present perfumes that you like?

"Mainly, but not exclusively. When I write a negative review it is usually of something spectacularly bad for whatever reason. The type of perfume I find hard to write about is the kind that merely leaves me cold. Then I do also write reviews of perfumes I admire, but which may not be quite ‘me’."

Do you feel that you are a relevant source of information for your readers’ purchasing decisions?

"That goes back to your earlier question about influencing readers. I would say I am a relevant source up to a point, if they choose to use my reviews in that way. Whether they actually do is another matter that I can have no handle on."

The band at worship ~ Source: A Secret Picnic

What information do your readers look for on your blog? Information regarding:

1. Trend
2. Recommendations
3. Ingredients
4. Origin
5. Price
6. Breakdown of scent components
7. Design

"Probably similar things to me as in your earlier question ie how a fragrance smells, plus maybe a note list for reference and an indication of price. A pack shot, so they can see how the box looks. But I can only speculate here as to what matters to readers. Perhaps I should ask people just that! ;)"

What is your relationship to companies? (influence of companies on blog entries)

"I retain an independent stance in my dealings with companies. I get solicited a lot to write reviews in return for samples - or full bottles, even - but I never agree to do that. I say I will try the perfume and may or may not write about it as a result. And if I do decide to do so, the review may or may not be positive. So the only influence on the blog is the fact that if people send me samples, they are de facto on my radar and if I feel moved to feature the perfumes sent to me, I will. But that only occurs in a minority of cases, and often only months after the event when the muse strikes me!"

An art card bought in a bookshop in St Gallen

To what extent do you represent the interests of certain companies on your blog? (Specific influence of companies on blog entries)

"Not at all - see above. I will qualify that slightly, as there are some companies I have featured repeatedly on Bonkers and may do again, notably Papillon Perfumes, Puredistance, 4160 Tuesdays, and the company that makes Travalos. That is not what I would construe as a formal 'representation', but more a case of my liking those companies and their products, and genuinely wanting to write about them. What is also important is that there has to be a certain something about a perfume house/fragrance - it could be anything! - that is a good fit for the Bonkers 'house style' of nuttiness and frivolity. However great a perfume, if I can't spot a slightly left field angle from which to review it, I probably won't.

To what extent do companies try to influence your opinion? (influence on the blogger)

1. Sample copies
2. Personal contact
3. Newsletter
4. Other

"#1, #3 and #4! I get sent things in every media, including newsletters and press releases, samples and whole bottles. I have also met a number of perfumers, but they have never tried to influence me through that personal contact. It’s the PR companies who do that, but they do vary. Some are quite respectful and low key, others more pushy in actually requesting a ‘tit for tat’ arrangement - product in return for copy. It is my impression that as a sector beauty blogs are more open to that kind of remunerative MO, but that is a very broad generalisation."

St Gallen shoppers!

Is there a link on your blog where you can buy a specific perfume?

"In the body of individual reviews I might link to the website of the perfume house, and maybe to a store where you can buy that perfume, but not in any systematic way. They certainly can’t buy any perfume through the blog as such."

Do you recommend buying a perfume?

"No, only ever trying it! (See previous.)"

Are you compensated by other companies for:

1. The sale of perfume directly on your blog

2. Advertising
3. Production introduction


Dom Hotel ~ Source:

How do you handle complaints or critique regarding one of the products that you introduced?

"Not applicable, if by ‘introduced’ you mean ‘recommend’. My reviews are just opinions, so people are at liberty to say in a comment that they didn’t like something I was raving about in my post! I am not personally involved in promoting a scent in the sense you may mean?"

How would you describe the relationship to your readers?

1. Interactive
2. One-sided
3. Regular 

"I would say I have an interactive relationship with the small minority of readers who comment - who are mostly fellow bloggers as I say. People come and go, but some are regular visitors and commenters. Other readers may in fact visit regularly yet never comment. To the vast majority who don’t interact with the blog through comments, I guess the relationship may be what you mean by ‘one-sided’, but that's normal with blogs."


To what extent do you entice the readers to try a new scent or to purchase new perfumes?

"That’s for them to decide really, hehe. Where I absolutely love a perfume, I may try to arouse people's interest in it by writing an appealing, sensuous review, because I would be happy if the scent gave others the same pleasure as it does me. But I would never try to get anyone to purchase it, merely to take the step of trying it for themselves."

PS Coming soon...I break my own rules above about blind buying, hehe. Or as good as break them.


Ingeborg said...

Good answers, you really anwered at length. I guess that was needed since the questions didn't really fit the way your blog is functioning.

On a side note: When will we get more kitten news?

Carol said...

I really enjoyed reading this, V - and I could hear you through the answers, if that makes any sense. xo

Tara said...

Yes, excellent answers, V.

It was funny how the questions were skewed towards your level of influence whereas as you say, Bonkers is much more about "nuttiness and frivolity" - and all the better for it!

Vanessa said...

Hi Ingeborg,

Thanks, and you are right that my blog is a bit different in its approach - I really don't set out to influence anyone as you know! I found the survey thought provoking and interesting to do - it is good to be challenged about one's motives from time to time.

Oh, I expect there will be more kitten news soon - maybe some photos at least. I have had her nearly three weeks now, fancy that!

Vanessa said...

Hi Carol,

That does make sense, hehe. And I bet you will have been answering the questions for yourself as you were reading too. xx

Vanessa said...

Hi Tara,

Thanks - I would have been most interested to read your take on the questions. They were skewed towards the influence of perfume blogs, as that is the topic of Nina's project of course, but as you say, my blog is ploughing a rather different furrow. ;)

Anonymous said...

I think you are right about some/many beauty blogs wanting to influence readers, often by being willing to receive products that they will write about. In my regular reading of a number of perfume blogs I don't see this happening, but instead am able to enjoy their distinctive approaches, writing styles and regular reminders not to buy unsniffed.

Also, I enjoy the civilized, entertaining communities perfume bloggers create (although I suspect you must have to read and delete many pushers of various/dubious products and, worse, the loathsome trolls).

And...kitties! I really enjoyed Ari's post about bloggers' cats.

-- Lindaloo

Vanessa said...

Hi Lindaloo,

It was most interesting to get your angle on the whole blogging community / influence question. It seems I was not imagining the point about some beauty blogs being given stuff in return for reviews.

You are right that I do have to delete comments from pushers of various products - I don't think my spam filters are as sensitive as they might be! I had a troll last winter(?) - a quite notorious one in fact called 'Something Gervaise Hamster' - well, that name is an approximation, but in the end, in an uncharacteristic feat of IT-savvyness, I managed to pinpoint his ISP and block it, and have had no bother since.

I remember Ari's post! That was in the days of Charlie Bonkers in my own case...

Carol said...

hahaa I was! :)

Vanessa said...


Blacknall Allen said...

Oh my what a can of worms this could have been!!!

Would any of us tell a person to buy a perfume? Doubtful. Would not make any difference if I did anyway since no one listens to me- including me. I wish to heaven I'd bought all the retiring Creeds at Neiman's! Did I? NO :-(

Vanessa said...

Hi Blacknall,

How so, a can of worms - d'you mean if bloggers in general thought we were influential?

Though regardless of whether you are trying to persuade your readers or merely stating your own preference, how do you know no one listens to you - even if you don't listen to yourself, hehe? You haven't canvassed your readers on this point after all - as I haven't - so the best we can say is that we don't know...

Blacknall Allen said...

Oh I mean can of worms simply in the sense that blogging should not influence people's buying habits very much, and I hope doesn't, since that would be too much power in the hands of hobbyists and collectors. The big blogs may be influential but I remember when they seemed to detest Black Opium and the public buys that anyhow.

It's only my guess (never having canvassed anyone) that perfume is often critic proof, kind of like the movies.

Vanessa said...

Ah, I get it, and I agree with your sentiments entirely. I think the big blogs do influence us niche aficionados - whereas the mainstream market spins on its own axis entirely. Your analogy with the movies is a good one!