In a remarkable job of investigative journalism, Bud Fox News reporter Silence Bellows has discovered that Sephora, the chain of cosmetics stores owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, has been filling all the bottles of men’s cologne sold in its US stores with the same fragrance for the last three years.
When asked for an explanation, company spokeswoman Iva Odor said, “Well, we actually thought we were doing our gentlemen customers a favor. Visiting Sephora is a bit overwhelming for a guy, especially if unaccompanied by a woman. So we figured if he thought all the colognes he sampled were beginning to smell the same, then he’d just buy the next one he tried and walk out a satisfied customer. We were trying to make things easier on him. We thought that if we had all the different real colognes available for him to try, he’d get confused and leave.”
When asked about the scam, Ima Pedagogue, Professor of Marketing at Northern Indiana Normal School and Business Institute, who has written extensively about the fashion industry, said:
“Obviously no company should actively deceive its customers, but in a way Sephora might be on to something. Most guys don’t like to buy male grooming products in general and cologne in particular. On a Saturday afternoon, when the big college football game on TV is over, the guys don’t all look at each other and say, ‘Hey, let’s head over to the mall and buy some cologne.’ And it’s compounded by the number of choices. There aren’t even this many hoppy, funky-tasting craft beers. At the Perfume Country website, colognes are organized alphabetically. In the ‘D’ section alone, there are 77 choices, and that’s not counting Donald Duck Eau de Toilette and Derek Jeter Driven and Derek Jeter Driven Black. A marketing professor at East Alabama Male College has determined through extensive polling that 41% of men would actually rather go to a Taylor Swift concert than spend a couple of hours buying cologne.”
The always informative and helpful Professor Pedagogue didn’t have time to discuss some of cologne-buying’s other difficulties. For example, there’s the confusion over after shave, eau de toilette, and cologne. There’s also the ridiculousness of internet articles that, under the pretense of helping you sort it all out, actually suggest spending over $150 bucks for this stuff or, if you can believe it, use the expression “fragrance aspiration” regardless of disclaimers.
Bud Fox News reporter Magdalena Babblejack spoke with Sephora customers about today’s news outside the chain’s location in the tony SoHo neighborhood of NYC. Urban Shocker, 35, who had just purchased cologne at the store, admitted he’d been completely duped:
“I never would have known. When I walked in the store, I got hit by a wall of perfume. It was a little much but I figured I’d be in and out. There were women all over the place, so I gotta admit, maybe I was a bit distracted. My friend Joey met his girlfriend at a Sephora, so I don’t mind going. Anyway, by the time I got to the back of the store, where the cologne was, it was like I had walked a perfume gauntlet or something. I wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference between skunk juice and ambrosia. I tried a couple of different bottles, they all smelled nice, so I bought the middle-priced one and hit the road. Look, I had to get out of there, I mean, some salesman was trying to tell me about the leathery notes in some new cologne.”