Designer fragrance website content – All mouth and no trousers

I’ve been busy writing descriptions for a perfume ecommerce website, creating more than 300 one hundred word snippets, each describing the personality of the fragrance, what it does for the wearer and its ingredients. And where have I found the reference material? Not on the perfume brand websites themselves, that’s for sure. 

It looks like I’ve uncovered a rich seam of pretentious nonsense. Yes, most perfume brands are by their very nature extremely high profile, usually allied to internationally famous fashion designers. But is that a good enough excuse for such shockingly poor websites?

Parfumier website content – All mouth and no trousers

Too many designer perfume websites contain no copy at all on the home page, just a blank screen or a pretty image you’re supposed to click on. The navigation is about as obscure and opaque as it gets.
The imagery, while very beautiful, is rarely supported by words which, apart from anything else, means people with impaired sight don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of understanding what’s going on.
Worse still, the products are described in the most fleeting of terms, often in execrable language: ultra-flowery, dense and almost meaningless. Some of it is so bad it sounds like it was written by someone trying to learn English who still has a very, very long way to go.

Is it because they’re supposed to be brochure sites?

Is it good marketing practice, under any circumstances, not to bother giving site visitors the information they need to make a buying decision, even if they do buy from an ecommerce outlet rather than the designer’s site itself? Or are they meant to be brochure sites? Aha, perhaps that holds the key… But even then, leaving out the facts and baffling visitors with invisible navigation isn’t good practice.
A brochure site should still provide the emotional and practical content people need so they can understand and appreciate the brand. Pictures of moody models pouting against exotic seascapes just don’t cut the marketing mustard, even if you are an internationally recognised lifestyle brand.

Or is it down to big brand ego?

If your name is so massively famous that everyone on the planet has already heard of it, you probably can’t be bothered with dull stuff like using great copy to describe the contents, benefits and raison d’etre of your products eloquently and accurately. Or helping people who can’t see very well access your brand. Or actually revealing what you do, where, how, why and for whom. Not to mention optimising your website so search engines can do a good job for users.
In the end I found the information I needed about on various excellent ecommerce websites. Many of which, unlike the perfume brand sites themselves, have obviously worked extremely hard to deliver exactly what the consumer needs. Stuff like:

  • the ‘nose’ who created the perfume
  • the inspiration behind it
  • what’s in it: top notes, heart notes and base notes
  • the effect it’s supposed to have on the wearer
  • what the designer brand itself says about their creation
  • when it is supposed to be worn: daytime, evening, special occasions, everyday wear etcetera

Obviously there are a few exceptions. But the overall picture is depressing. Fast approaching the end of what’s been a hugely enjoyable copywriting project, I find myself sickened by perfume designers’ smugness, pretentiousness and self-importance. Just call me disgusted of Brighton!

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