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Old Spice or Axe? It's time to buy men's fragrance gifts

November 27, 2011 |  7:30 am

ScentIt seems that this is the season to buy fragrance gifts. Writer Adam Tschorn checked in with the market research firm NPD Group and found that one-quarter of all annual sales of prestige fragrances take place the two weeks before Christmas. "Prestige" fragrances are those sold at department stores or trendy boutiques. But by inference, the Old Spice my north-of-60 brother-in-law prefers and the Axe for the twentysomething man on my list probably sell like crazy this time of year too.

Thinking about the sales got me thinking about the differences in the scents. Why does my older brother-in-law like Old Spice but won't go near Axe? Why is it exactly the opposite with the twentysomething?  Why does my spouse refuse to wear anything but Tiffany for Men, with its woody essence and spice notes?

Fortunately, Tschorn sheds light on some of this in his story in this Sunday's Image section, as he tried to answer the question, "What should a man smell like?" And why? What prompts fragrance choices for men?

I read the story and had new insight into the men in my life. Brother-in-law likes Old Spice because it reminds him of happy times in the past; Twentysomething is swayed by Axe's sexy, low-brow advertising campaign; and Spouse instinctively knows that woodsy-spicy is going to appeal to me more than, say, the odor of barbecue.  

Most women don't like the latter, researchers say. And indeed, much as I like barbecue, I think more of that woodsy-spicy stuff from Tiffany is going to end up in Spouse's Christmas stocking.

--Susan Denley

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Photo: "If a guy is putting on the amount of fragrance he thinks he should be putting on, it's probably too much," says Dr. Alan R. Hirsch, director of the Smell & taste Treatment and Research Foundation. Credit: Getty Images/ PhotoAlto