Scent Trunk image

My perfume membership plan with Scent Trunk is ending. I thought I’d take the time to reflect on my experience with this perfume subscription service and let you know what I thought of it.

Overview

“With too many options and so little guidance, fragrance shopping can defeat the best of us. By learning exactly what each customer likes to smell first, we help find fragrance that’s right for you. It’s fragrance shopping without the headache.” (on old website)

Scent Trunk makes effort to send you perfumes that you are supposedly more likely to appreciate through their system. They do a good job! I did not like, however, one aspect of the way it dealt with determining a customer’s scent profile: The first option that greeted me when setting up my account was to specify which I preferred – feminine, masculine or unisex fragrances. Well, gosh darn it, I like all three! I ended up choosing the feminine, if I recall correctly. This could explain why I ended up with a fair amount of florals on my menu. Scent Bird appears to have a superior system, wherein the customer chooses notes and liked perfumes to predict preferences.

Variety

Scent Trunk works with smaller niche, indie, or artisan brands. It was not uncommon for me to get four or more fragrances from the same brand over the period of my subscription, however. This would have been great had I been a huge fan of that particular brand, but in at least two cases, I was sadly not. The company does carry stock of a few brands that I’m very pleased with, however, such as Zoologist and 4160Tuesdays. They mix a few expensive brands in with very affordable ones. I must say I would have been happier to sample only the pricier ones, just to feel I was getting my money’s worth.

This is what I like about Scent Bird (I’ve set up an inactivate account with them), where you can actually line up the exact fragrances you want to try. For me this is typically the expensive ones that I would not otherwise purchase in full-bottle size. Not to say I do not splurge on expensive perfume, but definitely not on a blind buy. Indeed, I believe trying out the fancy stuff before investing is a main attraction of a perfume sample subscription service.

Packaging

The packaging (and website) changed several times over the course of my subscription with Scent Trunk. The picture above shows the original logo and box. The logo became tree-less, smelling strips were no longer included (instead the back of the perfume card serves as a blotter) and information about each of the perfumes included became more minimal.

The older, rectangular scent cards had a pretty colour image on one side and the other included a general description, the perfume’s notes, information on longevity and sillage, the perfume bottle image, and a recommended time of day for wearing.  The perfume bottle picture and suggested time of day for wear were eliminated part-way into my subscription. I imagine that bottles are different depending on concentration and can change when/if the fragrance is reformulated. When and where to wear a fragrance can be a highly personal thing, too. I’m glad they didn’t bother indicating the gender to which the fragrance is targeted, either.

In my more recent shipments, a general description and/or story of the perfume was printed on each square paper card, along with other information such as the country of origin, perfumer, sillage and projection levels, top, middle and base notes, and house of origin.

Of course, if you visit the website now, you’ll see that Scent Trunk has completely revamped. They now appear to resemble services like Scent Bird or Scent Box. I guess this business model is proving superior. It must certainly be a lot simpler and less labor intensive from the supplier end, and the client ends up with a larger volume, but just of one rather than three small vials perfumes each month. It’s worth noting that a company called Bergamot used to offer three samples a month, and that service disappeared from the market rather quickly. Olfactif is still around, though. To be honest, unless you live in the United States where there are more options, there is not much in the way of subscription choices. At least there are still plenty of ways to procure samples if not through subscription.

Cost

Off the top of my head I cannot recall the price for the service because I paid a larger sum in advance to obtain a discount, and it was a while ago now. I do recall thinking that the price was reasonable after comparing with what I would have paid had I simply bought samples from other sites. What is reasonable to one person is not necessarily so to another, however, so it’s best to see for yourself.

A main reason I went with Scent Truck is that the company shipped to Canada (Canada-based?). Shipping was still a pain for me, though, living in Asia. I had my packages delivered to my parents in Ontario, and they waited until accumulating a few months worth of scent before shipping them out to me, boxed removed to reduce size and weight. It might have been possible to arrange for direct international shipping with the company, but I chose to go via Canada in order to save money.  What this meant was that I was slightly robbed of the regular delight of receiving a nicely packaged monthly parcel. Also, when my fragrances did arrive, they got quickly lost in my already not-so-petite pile of samples. Many of them took a while to get to my nose, in the end.

Summary

Overall, if your goal is to get your nose on potentially random styles of perfumes from a few niche houses you may not know very well, if at all, I imagine Olfactif might be the better choice now, seeing as the setup of Scent Trunk has been changed. Olfactif only ships to the US at present, however. In the way Scent Trunk used to be set up, over the course of one year I got exposure to almost 30 new fragrances, some unforgettable, but mostly not – as was expected, to be honest. I would only consider buying full bottles of less than 10% of what I sampled. This was understood going into it, though – I simply wanted the joy of sniffing new olfactory delights.

I share the above to advise you that if you are unwilling to pay for stuff you might not like, a subscription service is probably not for you; go to a store and sniff for free instead! For me, however, I feel comfortable paying for the experience and anticipation of something new (and potentially divine). If I don’t like the perfume enough to wear it, I pass it on or find other uses for it, usually in the form of home scenting. I might also add that in my case, living in rural Japan (double whammy), vendors that stock perfume, let alone a decent range of perfume, are few and far between.

Since Scent Bird claims it will soon be shipping to countries outside the US, I think I may give them a go next. If that doesn’t happen soon, though, or if shipping steeply escalates the cost, perhaps I’ll try out the new (and improved?) Scent Trunk.

Update: I just re-created a new account with Scent Trunk. It appears they no longer ship to Canada, which would indicate that they either are based in the US after all or have moved house… I am indeed interested in receiving their free “scent test kit” (to help create a scent profile).

At least since I last checked, Scent Trunk gives 1.5% of all its sales to the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation. This is appropriate, as aromatherapy has been long used in many cultures as a treatment for depression.

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