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The most popular scents do not always make the most successful perfumes

The results of a new study focused on 10,000 perfumes and their online ratings suggest that the most popular scents do not always make the highest-rated fragrances. The researchers pinpointed which scents are the most successful and found some surprising combinations that seem to be the most desirable.

The smell of a perfume is described in terms of notes, such as musk, vanilla, or floral. The combinations of several notes that are commonly used in perfumes are called accords.

Researchers from the Department of Physics at Imperial College London used a complex network analysis to determine the most popular notes and accords. They studied 1,000 notes in thousands of perfumes and looked into their online sales.

The team found that some notes and accords are “over-represented,” meaning they appear more often than by chance. These scents, however, are not necessarily racking up the highest ratings.

Some common accords, like lavender and geranium, were often present in the “successful” perfumes, but less common notes and accords appeared to have an even stronger link with perfume popularity. For example, jasmine plus mint and musk plus vetiver and vanilla were a couple of surprising combinations that were tied to higher perfume ratings. 

According to the researchers, this could be a new avenue for perfumers to discover scent combinations that are likely to be successful but are not yet widespread.

“Our work provides insights into factors that play a role in the success of perfumes. It also sets up a framework for a statistical analysis of fragrances based on simple properties and customer reviews,” said study co-author Vaiva Vasiliauskaite. “It could be a beneficial tool for systematic ingredient selection and act as an artificial ‘nose’ – a traditional craft-master of perfumery.”

While name brands can influence the popularity of a perfume, the team found no connection between perfume price and success. The smell itself, on the other hand,  greatly correlated with higher sales.

The research is published in the journal PLOS ONE.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

Image Credit: Shutterstock/Fototocam

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