Everyone agrees that the Internet is changing how people relate to perfume. Industry interests—fashion brands, consumer goods companies, fragrance houses and ad agencies—no longer control the conversation. Instead, they compete with a host of amateurs who critique every new launch and reformulation.
Is there any way to measure the ups and downs of this marketplace of opinion? This is something I’ve pondered as a participant and as numbers-oriented behavioral scientist. Now, after months of data collection and tinkering, I offer my quantitative assessment of the fragrance blogosphere: the First Nerve Smelly Web Indexes.
The FN Smelly Web Indexes consist of the Solo Blog Index, the Team Blog Index, and the Corporate & Community Index. Each one tracks the Alexa traffic rankings of a cluster of representative web sites on a weekly basis, beginning August 9, 2009. The starting value of each index is set to 100. A higher index value means the average rank of the component blogs has risen. (Think by analogy of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the Dow Jones Transportation Average, the NASDAQ Biotechnology Index, etc.)
The Solo Blog Index
This index is based on nineteen single-author blogs, some focused exclusively on perfume, others on broader topics of scent-related history, culture and science. Here are the blogs used to compile this index:
Scented Salamander (Mimifroufrou.com).Marie-Hélène Wagner in Paris.
Bois de Jasmin Fragrance chemist Victoria Frolova in Eastern USA.
Perfume Shrine Bronze Age historian, archeologist and fragrance fan Elena Vosnaki in Greece.
1000 Fragrances Fragrance historian and writer Octavian Sever Coifan in Paris.
Nathan Branch US-based luxury goods and fragrance commentator Nathan Branch.
Grain de Musc Paris-based fragrance writer Denyse Beaulieu.
+ Q Perfume Perfume fan Simone Shitrit in Brazil
Katie Puckrik Smells US-based perfume reviewer & videoblogger Katie Puckrik.
Ayala’s Smelly Blog Artisan perfumer Ayala Sender, Vancouver, B.C.
Pink Manhattan Independent singer-songwriter Sali Oguri in New York.
Bitter Grace Notes Free-lance writer Maria Browning in Tennessee.
Vetivresse Brooklyn-based fashion advertising copywriter and wine and fragrance aficionado Christopher Voigt.
GlassPetalSmoke Smell- and taste-focused commentary by New York City-based marketing and communications specialist Michelle Krell Kydd.
First Nerve Avery Gilbert, NJ-based smell scientist, consultant and author.
Anya’s Garden Natural perfumer and fragrance blogger Anya McCoy, Miami Shores, Florida.
Olfactarama Fragrance reviews and reflections on scent by “Olfacta” in Atlanta.
Indie Perfumes Fragrance fan Lucy Raubertas in Brooklyn.
J’aime le parfum An anonymous, France-based (?) perfumer in training.
Les Tuileries “AlbertCAN,” a consultant with interests in perfume, olfactory experience and the humanities.
The Team Blog Index
Blogging is time-consuming. It’s much easier for a team of authors to produce a steady stream of traffic-attracting posts than it is for the solo practitioner. The five group blogs that comprise this index have consistently high Alexa rankings. They include:
Now Smell This Fragrance reviews, news, perfume shopping tips, new and upcoming fragrance releases and more by a seven-member team. Site editor is Robin K (From a “small town” in Pennsylvania), along with Angela S, Erin T (Toronto), Jessica M (art historian, NYC), Kevin S, Marcello A, and Pia C.
Perfume Posse “Coast-to-coast fragrance coverage in the U.S.” by a three-member team: Patty (“Rocky Mountains”), March (D.C.) and Lee (Suffolk, England) aka Leopoldo on fragrance bulletin boards.
Perfume da Rosa Negra Brazilian fragrance blog by Cristiane Gonçalves aka Cris Rosa Negra and contributors Italo Wolff and Dâmaris Silva.
The Corporate & Community Site Index
This index tracks performance of scent-related sites that, while they may contain blog posts and commentary, are set up as online communities and portal-style resources. Tracking them in a separate index seems more fair than mixing them in with solo and group blogs. It also provides a measure of Web-wide interest in things olfactory.
Basenotes.net Online fragrance reference guide with consumer reviews, industry news and articles. An interactive community founded by Grant Osborne and run by him and Danielle Cooper. Based in London.
OsMoz.com A compendious perfume site run by the Swiss-based fragrance house Firmenich.
Sniffapalooza Event-based online group of fragrance aficionados, founded by Karin Dubin and Karen Adams. Located in New York.
What Do the Indexes Tell Us?
Here’s what the first 23 weeks of data reveal:
The Solo Blog Index sank as low as 82 in August, then climbed steadily back to hover in the 130 to 140 range until just before Christmas, after which it sank back toward its initial levels. It finished this week at 110.
The Team Blog Index followed a similar pattern but began to under-perform the SBI in late October. An uptick the past two weeks brought it to a higher finish at 120.
The Corporate & Community Sites Index moved sideways in a narrow range until November, when it began a long decline. It touched bottom at 70 on December 27, 2009 and rebounded to finish today at 86. A temporary ranking decline at TheDryDown.com seems to account for these results.
Going forward I’ll have lots more to say about the performance of specific blogs and how they contribute to changes in the indexes.
Exit question: Do the SBI and TBI results reflect the pre-Christmas surge in perfume interest seen on Google Trends for “perfume”?