Bath & Body

Made-up Marketing: Smell the orchids

September 12, 2013

It should be clear, by evidence of this blog, that I’m a pretty big fan of the beauty industry. There are few things I love dropping my money on more than the latest and greatest makeup and skincare products. However, I believe it is also no secret that sometimes the marketing teams of these cosmetics and skincare companies try to sell us on some crazy and completely made-up things. Rather than just passing by their ridiculous ads, product names, and buzz words, I thought that maybe documenting these little nuggets could make a fun series. Which brings me to exhibit A:

Philosophy Orchid Blossom shampoo, shower gel & bubble bath
Philosophy Orchid Blossom shampoo, shower gel & bubble bath

I caught this display of Philosophy Orchid Blossom shampoo, shower gel & bubble bath at Nordstrom Rack recently. Philosophy has a huge collection of deliciously scented 3-in-1 products, and I’m sure that this particular variant is delightful. But when I saw this, I thought to myself, “well, huh. What on earth does an orchid smell like?”

I’ve actually had a bunch of orchids over the years. I had a little collection as a kid, and my parents still keep a bunch. A couple of them followed me to college, and now I currently have one beautiful specimen in my home that reliably blooms twice a year. But out of all of those orchids, I’ve only ever had one that had a fragrance, and it certainly didn’t look anything like the blossoms on Philosophy’s packaging. It had teeny weeny, spindly blossoms that didn’t have a particularly unique fragrance. They smelled sweet, sort of like honey. Philosophy is just relying on the fact that “orchid” sounds exotic to most people, and that they can use it as a platform to invent whatever floral scent they happen to think is nice and “orchidy”.

The truth is that lots of orchids have no smell at all (or at least not one that’s detectable by humans), and those that do don’t really have any sort of unified fragrance. The San Diego Floral Association notes that they can smell like anything from chocolate and cinnamon to orange or even corn chips and dirty socks. Many can even smell downright terrible. Thus, this is clearly a case of made-up marketing!

My current specimen
My lone orchid, which happens to currently be in bloom!

I’ll be keeping my eyes open for other acts of marketing fiction, and if you spot some imaginative jargon, please do share!

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