Scent Gourmand

sinless pleasure for the perfume glutton

Tag: perfume subscriptions

Scent Trunk – a perfume subscription service in review

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.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Scent subscription services

scent-subscriptions

It’s difficult to sample multiple scents at once and truly experience the separate notes, because our sense of smell suffers from what is called olfactory fatigue. This is why we need to sniff on coffee to clear our nasal passages before inhaling a different delight in the store. To complicate matters, commercial perfumes have become so chemically complex that our noses might end up being overwhelmed. Also, some perfume lovers simply may not have the time or means to get to stores to sample all the available scents out there. It’s no wonder that scent subscription services have sprung up to meet the needs of would-be consumers.

If you are interested in exploring new scents, I feel there are five main reasons you should subscribe, regardless of the company(ies) you end up choosing:

1) to save time and money

Subscription services will likely always be cheaper than if you were to buy each item separately, which is part of their inherent appeal. Suppliers are willing to sell their product to the subscription service provider at reduced fees so that they get their name out to you, the final customer. Savings are usually passed onto you, and often along with rebate coupons to encourage an initial purchase right from their store. The whole process of finding a vendor or retailer that sells stuff you might like can be highly time-consuming, although sometimes fun. If you work 60+ hours per week as I do, however, and would rather do things like nurture a website in the little free time you have, a subscription service takes out all the time-consuming hassle. You know you’re not going to run out of your scent while you were too preoccupied with other matters, too, which is yet another bonus.

2) to enjoy the element of surprise

In several subscription box services, you get to choose exactly what you want, which appeals to many people, but for the most part, subscription box selections are a surprise. There is definitely a level of excitement surrounding the delivery of mystery scent to one’s door every month. Andy Nulman, author of “Pow! Right Between the Eyes,” says that some surprises may anger, disgust, scare or shock people — but that’s a good thing, and people are willing to pay for it. Well, this certainly explains why subscription services (aside from printed media!) are a growth industry. Grown adults are essentially all like kids in Disneyland a lot of the time, and even small surprises delight us. A wee box of I-don’t-know-what’s arriving regularly will send the most staid of us back into kid-at-Christmas-time mode. My monthly mystery scent subscriptions certainly delight me, and have admittedly evoked the clapping of hands, and the embarrassing utterance of the series of words, “goodie goodie goooooodie!!!”

3) to enjoy new knowledge

There is arguably no better way to learn about perfumes that to have a few samples delivered to your home on a regular basis. Many scent services come with brochures, pamphlets or cards explaining the creator (nose), company, ingredients, descriptions, and inspiration behind each fragrance. You will also learn something about yourself in the process – what you like that you always thought you wouldn’t and what you don’t like but had assumed you would. After gaining that “knowledge of self,” you can confidently purchase larger bottles from the original vendor, not having to worry that you’re misspending your fragrance budget. After just a few months you’ll have been exposed to many brands and scents and will know more about perfume and your own preferences than you ever thought you would. You also will not be influenced by the packaging when evaluating new fragrances. They usually come in simple vials, after all!

4) to easily re-gift and share

This may or may not be an obvious reason to get a fragrance subscription, but sharing with spouses, significant others, family, and friends is wonderful! Fragrance samples make for great birthday or seasonal presents or simple “thank you’s.” Come to think of it, whole subscription services themselves make for wonderful gifts. There are unlimited reasons for gifting to the people in your life, and what better way to bring a smile to a fellow fume head than to pass on some liquid delight?

5) to explore scents you might not know or be able to access otherwise

Especially with niche perfumes, it’s not like your small town department store will carry them all. Some subscription services capitalize on this and endeavor to allow you to get your nose on hard-to-find fragrances. Being able to sample scents through a subscription service means that you’ll be able to fully experience pricier fragrances that you’d normally be weary of investing in without trying.

As many of these subscription services are only offering sample sized portions, many of you may have been wondering, “Why would I pay money for samples when companies give out such samples for free?” I sincerely hope that what I wrote above addresses that question for you!

Below I outline a few scent subscription services in alphabetical order that I have discovered, a few to which I have been subscribed, a few to which I am currently subscribed, and others which interest me. Some contain affiliate links.

Mugler Addict

Get deluxe sample sizes, plus free shipping at the Mugler specialist store in the US for an entire year. The whole subscription is 50 USD, and it is delivered quarterly. If you are an Angel-only addict, you can get “Angel Room Service.” I had a subscription with these guys a few years back, and I have to admit that most of the stuff I got was wee trinkets and a few products I never use (like nail polish and creams). Overall, I wouldn’t say it was worth the price, unless you are a huge Mugler fan (I am, actually, but would have preferred to just get the perfumes). One thing I remember enjoying about the subscription was getting a sample set of Mugler’s Les Exceptions, which I very much enjoyed. They only ship to the US, at least when I used the service.

Olfactif

With this Chicago-based company that I plan to join, you get 3 niche, 2.25 ml vials of unique fragrances curated around a theme. If you purchase a full bottle of a scent from the sample selection in the same month, the subscription box price gets credited against the cost of the fragrance. Sadly, as I won’t be getting my scents until months later (Canadian family members will pick up in the US – when they are able – and then send to me in Japan), this won’t work for me, but that’s the way the prune wrinkles! The 18 USD monthly selection is beautifully packaged and what most appeals to me about this service is the brands they have available – lots of high-end niche delights that I am very much looking forward to sampling.

Scent Bird

Each month with Scent Bird you receive an 8 ml purse spray filled with the perfume of your choice, with over 450 designer and niche scents to choose from, but the stress seemingly more on designer fragrances. About the size of a rollerball stick, 8 ml is enough perfume to apply two sprays twice daily for 30 days, though we all know that some perfumes might require (or desire) a few more squirts. Every month after that you get a vial with your refill that slides into the convenient and chic travel spray case that you get when you first sign up (it comes in red or black). Along with the fragrance you receive each month, New York-based Scent Bird, run by Mariya Nurislamova, Sergey Gusev, Andrei Rebrov, and Rachel ten Brink, also includes a card describing the “perfume of the month” for the next month. The great thing about this program is that you not only get to choose what fragrances you would like to try, but also you can choose your lineup. The pricing varies: USD $14.95/monthly, $14.50/month with a 3-month plan, $14/month with a 6 month plan, or $13.50/month with a year plan. Again, shipping is only to the US.

Scent Trunk

We don’t wear the same clothes every day, so why wear the same scent? With Scent Trunk, you get a variety of fragrances, niche and indie choices included. They customize each box to your unique tastes, as you fill out a profile allowing the Scent Trunk team (William Yin, Scott Grant, Richard Smale, and Jolisa Masucol) know what you like, then they find unique fragrances to suit you. They really go out of their way to do this, hand curating every box. Each subscription box contains 3 samples of 1.5 to 3 ml of fragrance, together enough to keep you scented for a month. A men’s box is also available, and they ship free to Canada, too. This company does indeed carry some gorgeous, high-end niche brands (mixed in with some fun cheapies, like Demeter). The subscription is sells for 96 USD for six months, and 180 USD for a year, and they make it easy for you to gift a subscription. I have joined this service , and if you are interested in doing so as well, use code 8306 to get $7.20 of gift credit when you sign up.

Scent Box

Scent box is a subscription service for designer fragrances. It is very similar to Scent Bird in that you get one 8 ml spray perfume (they claim that gets you 4 sprays a day for 31 days) from your choice of fragrances. The packaging concept is also very similar. They have a selection of over 650 designer perfumes and 80 brands from which to choose, at USD $13.95 per month, which slightly cheaper than Scent Bird. However, once you hit the subscribe button on their website, you’ll find that they charge USD $18.95 for the option to select from their higher end inventory in addition to the general one.  The general category is actually 500 perfumes, and the higher end subscription consists of 150 additional ones.  You get a discounted price in a subscription if you order 2 perfumes per month. So, Scent Box or Scent Bird? I would compare what they have on offer to see what perfumes are to your liking. If everything you want is in the cheapest often on Scent Box, that might be the better choice if you want to save a dollar. But if you want more niche variety, I believe Scent Bird wins. Note that this company, too, only ships to the US, though last I checked they wrote that they plan to expand.

Uprising Botanicals

This company has a scent of the month club carrying its own label of perfume, which is made with an organic cane alcohol and a combination of essential oils and organic fragrance oils. Each box contains a perfume spray and a travel size lotion in the same scent. The portion sizes are not precisely quantified on the website, but the bottling sure is pretty. If you sign up for 12 months you get 2 months free (15 USD/ month; 160 USD/ year).

Bloom Perfumery London

This large perfume retailer (under Scentomatic Ltd.) in the UK will allow you to choose from unisex, for her, or for him 12- month subscription packages. The service offers Bloom’s best examples of woody, floral, citrusy, fresh, tasty, classic and modern formulas, as well as special picks for the holidays. You get 5 x 1.6 ml samples a month, 1 x 1.6 ml sample of a recent launch, and subscribers get a unique promocode permitting them 10% OFF full sized bottles corresponding to the current sample selection. The samples come with descriptions and in the mail you’ll also get updates regarding what is new at Bloom. They ship to the UK and EU, but can ship elsewhere for prices starting at £20 via DHL.

Perfumes for a Buck

This is likely your cheapest option if you want to sample mainstream fragrances. With membership you can select ANY 5 samples each month for USD 12.99. New members automatically select 5 more samples for only $1.00 extra, and this company appears to ship internationally. I would imagine for that price that they use samples packaged directly from the company. I did not find any obvious details about how long you have to be subscribed, though I am certain it is in the fine print somewhere.

Cancelled (too bad!):

  • Aromatic Blackbox
  • Bergamot (I was subscribed for 6 months before they folded and enjoyed the service, similar to Scent Trunk.)

As you have noticed, to successfully subscribe to most of the services above, you’ll be better off with a particular mailing address. For many people living outside the United States or UK, the associated costs and inconvenience of setting up a forwarding service or something to that effect may make these subscriptions a lot less attractive.

Have you tried any of these subscriptions? Are there any others you know of that I haven’t listed? Please comment below.

© 2017 Scent Gourmand

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑