Most people have heard about – or even used – perfume testers. The most common reason for using fragrance testers is to try out a branded perfume for the first time. But did you know you can purchase testers instead of higher-priced designer perfumes?
Buying perfume testers is worth it because they are authentic and have contents identical to the original perfume. Testers share the exact composition and quality with branded perfumes or regular retail fragrances. All they lack is the fancy packaging and the high pricing.
This article provides a comprehensive guide on tester perfumes, including answers to most of the commonly asked questions like ‘what is perfume tester’ and ‘what is a tester cologne’. We will discuss all there is to know regarding perfume testers and their usage. Let’s get started.
What Are Tester Perfumes?
As the name implies, tester perfumes are sample perfumes used to test retail fragrances’ desirability. They give potential buyers an opportunity to smell the formulation and familiarize themselves with the product and its essence.
Cologne testers typically arrive in plain (no branding) packaging sans labels, tags, fancy caps, and cellophane wrapping. Testers are often marked “TESTERS” or “Not for Resale.” In contrast, original fragrances typically come in official, luxurious, and colored advertising packaging.
Once perfume makers create a fragrance and put it on the market, they simultaneously produce similar fragrances as testers for in-store displays. The goal is to showcase the scent and attract and entice customers, who then get to purchase the original scent from online platforms, perfume stores, high-end departmental stores, or manufacturer websites.
Testers are not usually available for purchase, but you can buy them via distribution networks and online fragrance stores. You can get them in 100 ml (3.38 ounces) bottle sizes though additional variants are also obtainable such as 50, 75, 90, and 125 ml (1.7, 2.5, 3, and 4.2 ounces).
Are Samplers the Same as Testers?
Samplers differ from testers but only in terms of size. Samplers work the same way as testers; they allow potential buyers to have a taste and feel of a perfume — at no cost. However, they come in much smaller sizes.
Scent samplers are often small, pocket-sized branded vials containing a company’s liquid fragrance. Conversely, testers normally come in larger bottles, at times the same size as the perfume itself.
Buying Perfume Testers
The greatest upside to buying perfume testers is that you get to own world-class perfumes at a relatively low price — at times up to 40% less!
You see, packaging costs a great deal, and the fancier and more creative and luxurious it is, the pricier it gets. Designer/branded fragrances may boast such packaging — but is it really worth your while to spend so much on an outer casing you’ll discard immediately after unboxing your new scent?
For perfume manufacturers, testers offer a quick and effective way to promote their scents and help sway customers into making an impulsive purchase. The thing is, a person’s body chemistry determines how a perfume smells, and when the two are in sync, a purchase is highly likely. Even for online buyers, most will make a purchase only after trying out a fragrance in a physical store.
Additionally, testers allow perfume sellers to offload their stock faster. Due to limited retail space, retailers need to offer potential customers incentives to buy their products.
And when consumers get the chance to try out multiple designer fragrances they wouldn’t usually have access to — unless they bought them — they get to pick what appeals most to them and works with their unique body chemistry. Hence, the store makes more sales, and they end up with happy customers. It’s a win-win!
You will mostly find tester colognes displayed near retail fragrances in a typical perfume store. After trying out a couple of scents, you can buy your preferred perfume. You can use the conveniently-availed soft paper swatch for testing or dab the sample directly onto your skin.
Still, there are a few things to consider before buying tester perfumes:
- Ensure both the tester and branded perfume share the same manufacturer. They should also contain the same fragrance formulation (chemical composition and oil concentration levels) and have the same shelf life.
- Consider whether you are buying the tester for yourself or as a gift for someone else. If it’s a gift, you’d probably want to consider purchasing the branded perfume.
- The tester should maintain the same future retail value. Get tester/perfume fragrances from designer brands that maintain their original value if you want to sell them later. Creed, Dior, and Chanel are good examples.
Pro tip: Unscrupulous sellers like to fake highly popular designer fragrances, like scents from Tom Ford’s Private Blend. So ensure the batch code on the tester corresponds with the one on the perfume bottle and make your purchases solely from legitimate sellers and online fragrance discounters.
Also, take your time performing your trial; allow the scent to settle for several minutes to see how it reacts with your skin and whether it smells right. Moreover, by getting to the drydown phase, you learn more about the scent and how it develops. (For more on this, check out this article).
Tester Cologne vs. Regular Cologne
The above discussion shows that tester colognes are replicas of original branded colognes. They also come in similar containers, mimicking even the fonts.
From a marketing point of view, testers differ from regular colognes, primarily in regard to pricing and packaging. Testers are much cheaper than branded perfumes, but be cautious should you find testers at staggeringly low prices — they might be fakes.
Retail perfumes are presented in their original/official packaging, while testers come in simple, plain boxes made from cardboard material — the reason for the cologne testers’ low price point. The inexpensive packaging can be recycled and used for other purposes.
Some perfume testers come without lids making it easier for users to test the fragrance. You may also find additional details on the bottles, such as the perfume notes. This heightens the customers’ understanding of the perfume and its contents.
Finally, tester perfumes may contain information in languages other than French and English. This shouldn’t cause you to be unduly concerned. It simply means the testers get distributed from overseas.
Are Perfume Testers Stronger?
Some users tend to believe that perfume testers are much stronger than perfumes. This notion is spawned by the fact that testers typically come in small containers, thereby better preserving the integrity of the contents. However, unless the tester comes in a different concentration, say as a parfum rather than an EDT or EDP (this is rare, but it could happen), then this perception is misguided.
The truth is that testers endure just as long as their counterpart fragrances. What matters is how you store your tester. Just like with perfume, exposure to air, light, and high temperatures compromises the integrity of your tester contents: the fragrance loses its scent and potency.
On the other side of the fence are users who feel that testers have less longevity because of extended exposure to bright light while on display. This theory is incorrect since perfume shops only display a single bottle or two for testing purposes, keeping the rest away safely.
What of the fact that testers stay without their caps? Doesn’t this lead to air exposure? This factor appears to have an insignificant effect on the testers’ staying power. Furthermore, dispersed indoor lighting is also safe as far as your tester’s potency/integrity is concerned.
Beware that with time a tester cologne might smell somewhat different. The reasons for this could be due to any of the following:
- Testing perfume on paper strips rather than directly on your skin
- Inappropriate storage conditions (more on this later)
- Reformulations – newer batches of perfume tend to contain less potency than older, richer formulations
This leads to the question, how do you ensure your tester/scents stay fresh for the longest time?
How To Keep Fragrance Fresh
Perfumes contain a mix of perfume oils and ethanol/water. They are highly volatile, meaning elements like sunlight, humidity, and water can destroy a perfume’s molecules, negatively impacting the smell and performance of the fragrance. To avoid such an unfortunate scenario, always:
- Steer clear of the bathroom. Store your perfumes in a cool, dark, and dry place to limit exposure to bright light (whether natural or artificial). The fridge works too!
- Aim for a consistent temperature. A dark cupboard or closet is ideal.
- Retain the packaging. Keep perfume in its original packaging to maintain the contents in pristine condition.
Do Testers Smell Different?
Now that you know what a tester cologne is, you might be wondering whether testers smell different from regular fragrances.
The answer is no (unless it’s fake). As mentioned earlier, perfume testers contain identical ingredients to branded fragrances. This means they are 100% the same.
So how do fragrance discounter shops manage to offer tester fragrances at such affordable prices?
Enter the fragrance grey market, a marketplace that offers cosmetics and perfumes outside the “official” channels. The grey market sells legitimate fragrances legally imported from various countries. As such, they are not counterfeits or cheap knock-offs. This is a legit business.
This market leverages the different prices of products in different regions. In other words, it exploits the price gaps between different localities.
After purchasing gigantic amounts of fragrances (they may have failed to do well in certain markets) from distributors at massively discounted rates, the discounter stores pass on the discounts to consumers.
Perfume testers provide an economical way to expand your fragrance collection. What’s more, you get to own rare, discounted, or little-known scents. And which perfume enthusiast wouldn’t want to wear a scent they’d hardly come across someone else wearing?
Nevertheless, you need to watch out for fakes, as some sneaky sellers could pass off counterfeits of certain popular colognes as genuine products. Only buy your testers from trusted sources like:
- Reputable perfume stores
- Official brand websites
- Online fragrance discounters
You now have an affordable way to get your hands on branded fragrances you’ve been coveting. Enjoy your fragrance journey!