Sales-Floor Secrets

It takes much more than marketing dollars to make a fragrance fly off the shelf. An inside look at the tricks and traditions of the beauty retail business

SHOPPING FOR PERFUME with consultant Olivier Aron, whose Paris-based firm R.O.S.A.E. tracks cosmetics consumers' behavior for companies including L'Oréal, Guerlain and Estée Lauder, is like going to the movies with a director. In Casablanca, you may see Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart romancing, but the director sees a wide-angle close-up sequence. Aron's passion is prowling the aisles to understand what makes shoppers reach for their wallets. At a Sephora perfumery in central Paris, for example, Hugo Boss's new men's fragrance, Energize, is thoughtfully organized on stand-alone shelves complete with dipsticks for sampling. Don't be fooled: that little five-shelf contraption known as...

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