Sunday, May 28, 2006

ASK MARLEN: A model profession

Dear Marlen,

I'm probably going to go into the fragrance model field soon, as Beaute Prestige International (BPI; the maker of Jean Paul Gaultier and Issey Miyake fragrances) needs a new model because the current one (who both I and my Dad I know very well) is leaving. Making things worse, they need the model by early June because of the Gaultier2 US launch (yeah, I know you're not a fan of the stuff, but I'm still waiting for it). So, they offered me the position. While I'm waiting for a response from both them and Macy's, I could use some advice on fragrance model tricks of the trade given your past history as one. Here's some examples:

  • Should I use statistics every now and then (a la "Le Male is the #1 men's fragrance in Europe")?
  • How should I target customers of the competitors? Around here, the best-smellers are Angel, Chanel No. 5, Euphoria, and all those celebuscents in women's and Acqua di Gio, Chrome, Armani Code, Polo Black, and Angel Men in men's.
  • Should I wear clothes that match the character of the fragrance being modeled?
  • And finally, what are some sure-fire ways to boost sales of existing products?

I'd love to hear back from you soon!


Hey Z!

How ya doin, buddy? Congrats on the new position! I considered going back to freelancing as a model again, but then decided to focus my energy on writing and developing my blog instead...I'm envious!

To answer your questions, the best thing I can do is tell you how I operated. First, each department store has its own dress code so be sure to ask. I always wore my favorite jackets/suits with a tie, but a lot of the stores are becoming less formal. My goal was to get to know all the customers and find out what they wanted. I didn't take the approach that I was there merely to sell my lines. I was just one more knowledgeable person (usually more so than the salespeople) who was there to help the customer have a great experience. My knowledge about scent and the compositions of all the fragrances usually impressed the customers and they found shopping with me to be educational and fun, and very personalized. I kept customer info so I could call/email them with info about new proucts, special offers, etc. The store sales associates usually appreciated this approach, because it almost always ended up in commission for them, which in turn made them happy, which in turn meant that they showed MY fragrances more often because they felt it was a way to return the favor! That being said, Macy's is a bit different than the stores I've worked in, so best to ask the people in the store and other linespeople who work there how they approach it. You mentioned using statistics to help sell, and my response to that would be, "Would it impress you and make you want to buy?"

A lot of my job consisted of constantly having samples ready, and that meant hounding the line reps for testers and products to show and share with customers. When I had no samples, I made my own. When there were no gift packages, I made my own...know what I mean? But having something to offer customers, something which they can take home and spend time with, often helped them remember my products.

I think the bottom line is not to be too pushy, but to make sure everyone has some positive association with your line - after all a little publicity can go a long way. Customers usually didn't know that I worked for the line and not for the store; I treated them like friends who I would help to find their holy grail scent rather than shopping cutomers to which I was trying to make a hard sale. I think that worked well for me at the stores that I was at (Saks, Niemans and Nordies). I also found it useful to find out if they were buying a gift or shopping for themselves; what scents they currently used or liked/disliked, etc; and no matter what they bought or didn't buy, I always made sure customers left with samples of my scents.

Does this help? Feel free to ask a few more questions!


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