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Study: Finns turn noses up at perfumes

Famous brands like Dior, Calvin Klein, Chanel and Boss don’t raise temperatures in Finland - that's because Finns aren't as keen on scents as other Europeans, spending mere pennies of their cosmetics budget on perfumes. According to a new study, the domestic cosmetic market grew two percent to nearly 420 million euros – but spending on scents has barely changed since the 1990s.

Most Finns like to maintain a low profile -- and that also applies to the olfactory signals they send. A new study shows that Finns spent an average of 170 euros on toiletries and cosmetics last year – just under five percent of it on perfumes, according to the Finnish Cosmetic, Toiletry and Detergent Association. The personal grooming lobby says that proportion hasn’t changed since the 1990s.

“The average European spends three times as much money on perfumes as Finns. We use perfumes far less than other Europeans,” said Eeva-Mari Karine, a cosmetics specialist with the association.

The grooming association said the domestic market for cosmetics grew slightly by two percent to 420 million euros. However it pointed out that the figure does not include duty-free purchases or online orders from abroad.

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Karine speculated that there are cultural reasons for Finns' cool relationship with perfumes. She noted that other Nordic countries also value fresh natural odours, adding that Norwegians also consume relatively little scent. Swedes on the other hand spend slightly more of their cosmetics budget on perfume, about eight percent, the specialist added.

The cosmetics retailer Sokos Emotion reported that best-selling perfume brands among women last year included Versace, Escada, Giorgio Armani, Oscar de la Renta and Lancôme. Among men, Hugo Boss, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Diesel and Paco Rabanne topped the list.

Other domestic perfume resellers tend to be secretive about their sales statistics - retail chains like Stockmann keep those figures under wraps. However the company did say that deodorants appear to be boss on men’s cosmetic shelves. For many that’s more than enough to ensure a favourable sensory experience.

Finns clearly prefer to fly low on the scent radar, as unscented cosmetics are a major draw for some consumers, Karine noted.