How 'smelling expensive' became a key trend in fragrance

By Jo Allen | Published: 9-May-2024

Consumers want to smell rich in an 'old money' way. But why is this a key trend in perfumery, and what kinds of fragrances are associated with smelling expensive?

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This article was originally published in the Cosmetics Business Fragrance Trend Report.  Receive your copy here.

Smelling expensive tops the list of desirability when it comes to fragrance.

On #PerfumeTok, ‘How to smell expensive’ has 28.3 million views and counting, as the trend has branched off into different trails.

Whether it’s smelling ‘rich like a millionaire’, or smelling like ‘old money’ and ‘generational wealth’, the trend also moves into specific aesthetics: ‘how to smell like a mob wife’ has been circulating on social media.

This is value-seeking behaviour at its peak: consumers don’t just want generic value for money, the value they want is specifically for their purchases to smell of money, and in turn to feel as wealthy as the fragrance makes them smell.

So which perfumes fit the (dollar) bill?

Across TikTok and wider media, certain perfumes are repeatedly named: Frédéric Malle’s Portrait of a Lady, Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s Baccarat Rouge 540 and Le Labo’s Santal 33.

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