Sunday, December 21, 2008

SIZE SAMPLES SELLING & SIZZLE


Perfume is SUPPOSED to be expensive. So what do you do when money is tight and people who WANT your perfume (really!!!) can't afford it? This isn't the first time in history that marketers have struggled with this issue.

One TRUTH is eternal in marketing. If you want to have ANY profitable sales in the future, you DO NOT slash prices. But you might consider "slashing" SIZE.

When I was a kid, candy bars were selling for a nickel -- five cents. Then one year they went up a penny, to SIX cents. A 20% jump! Then they stayed at six cents for a number of years. But the SIZE of a candy bar shrank! (Kids notice these things.) But our six cents WOULD STILL BUY A CANDY BAR!

I've heard that in the garment trade there's a practice called "shrinking the marker." The manufacturer, to save money (and cheat the marketer) cuts the pattern just a bit SMALLER than the "marker" (pattern) so the garment is, in effect, "downsized." Now you know why sizes in women's clothing haven't always been consistent!

Francois Coty, the great perfumer, innovator, and founder of the company that still bears his name, made a fortune by offering his perfumes in A WIDE VARIETY OF SIZES, in effect making them AFFORDABLE to lots of women who would not otherwise have been able to afford his very nice perfumes. Coty sold A LOT of perfume!

Now suppose you're selling an ABSOLUTELY NEW fragrance, you don't have a reputation (i.e., your company is unknown), and not all that many people will ever FIND OUT that you HAVE a perfume? What you really want to do in this situation is EXCITE those who DO come to your "store" and make sure that they DO NOT go away empty handed. You want to make sure that they take away A SAMPLE. So you want to make your SAMPLE OFFER as enticing as possible.

I was thinking about my own samples the other day. Times are hard. Money is tight. So why not give people MORE then they might expect with your samples? Why not UPSIZE your samples rather than DOWNSIZING your bottles?

I'm experimenting with this concept for two of my men's fragrances, Toxic (the name says is all!) and Blackberry. I want MORE people to walk out of my store WITH A SAMPLE BOTTLE ... so the sample bottle got BIGGER! I want to make visitors to my store HAPPY ... to feel that they've found a way to shed a little bit of gloom and brighten up their day with an exciting fragrance.

So the sampling deal is extraordinary, but I haven't cut my price.

Of course, to do this you have to BELIEVE in the fragrances you are selling. And you have to run the numbers very carefully because you are BUILDING a business for the future and you can't succeed at it unless you know what you're doing, numbers wise.

But now is the time to WORK at making sales!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Blogging to sell perfume

The other day I started a new blog that has but one purpose: to generate sales for the PerfumersWorld Foundation Course which I sell at my PerfumeProjects website.

I started the Learning To Make Perfume blog out of my frustration in trying to explain the Foundation Course to people. This was the course that got me started in perfumery, creating fragrances of my own, as opposed to selling fragrances I had made using perfume compounds created by others, which, of course, is what all the major fragrance marketers do. The companies that actually create fragrance are absolutely unknown to the consuming public.

My background is in advertising – writing advertising – and in days of yore, it would simply be a matter of preparing some magazine ads, catalogs, and mailing pieces and sending them out. All would carry the same basic (tested) sales pitch. Only the formatting and copy cuts would distinguish on ad from another in various media.

Selling via the internet alone calls more for building a relationship with the customer, letting the customer get to know you better by revealing something about who you are, what your intentions are, and where you find common ground with others. So I've turned to blogging to explain – and sell – the Foundation Course. Instead of relying on a well structured ad that must keep a tight focus or risk losing readers, I've begun blogging the Foundation Course so I can write about lots of thoughts I've had about it and describe some of my failures and successes and add the little touches, the pleasures and frustrations involved in working with aroma materials as a creative medium.

My new blog was NOT created by sell my perfumes. Then I thought about it. In order to sell the Foundation Course successfully, I have to – and I want to – talk about what I've done with both the knowledge and the materials, which has been to create perfumes (call them “colognes” when selling to men!) ... and sell these perfumes, which is what I do on my FrankBush website.

As I worked to develop blog messages for the Foundation Course, it became clear to me that this same blog might also help me sell my own perfume. I'm writing this post to share that thought with you.

We both know that a good review for your fragrance in a major magazine will help sales. But, if you're only bottling a few hundred bottles of perfume a year and are unable to afford fancy, custom bottles and gorgeously expensive, decorative boxes, the odds of your getting an important review are close to zero. (The exception might be if you have lots of wealthy or famous friends who like your perfume, but most of us don't qualify there.) So you can't expect others to give you those great, sales spinning reviews.

But by blogging, you can do it yourself.

Look at this blog – my first. I set it up in about five minutes. It's hosted by Google's Blogger, which is currently free. So cost isn't an obstacle to blogging. (Someday this may change but I want to make hay while the sun is shining!)

A blog needs content. But for years I've earned my living as a writer. Give me a pen and paper and I write. So content isn't a problem. But – here's my real problem – I'm not very good about writing about my own creations!

In fact, I'm not very good at writing about perfume at all. I love it. With a bit of training and practice my nose can distinguish between two closely similar notes. I believe in perfume – the way aromatherapy people believe – with the exception that I love ALL the aroma materials that can be used in perfumery, natural or otherwise. I love the beautiful, kaleidoscopic aroma of ylang ylang. But I am also fascinated by (now artificial, for the sake of the animals,) civet and castoreum, which are not generally considered “pleasant” aromas. And I love the amazing out-and-out synthetics such as Undecavertol, Hedione and Iso E Super. But I'm not very good about putting my thoughts about perfume into words. This is a problem for a lot of artistic people. They can create but are not so hot about explaining – and selling – their creations.

So, in my Learning To Make Perfume blog, I don't really try to sell my perfume. I just talk about it in relation to my own work in creative perfumery which started with -- drum roll please! -- the PerfumersWorld Foundation Course. And I realized that all this chit chat on the blog is going to bring people to my FrankBush website where my fragrances are offered for sale.

Will this new blog boost my perfume sales? Well, the starting point is always getting the customer “in the door,” so if I get more interested visitors to my sales pages, my chances of making more sales are greatly improved.

Then, of course, the moment of truth – the customer looks at “the deal” and either buys my perfume or passes on it. But the blog gets people to give my perfume consideration that it would not otherwise receive.

The point is, with the blog I'm not trying to “sell” my perfume. I'm just talking about it in a straightforward manner, talking about something I can comfortably talk about – the creative process – and why I've made some of the decisions I've made. My feeling is that some people will find this interesting and it will pique their curiosity about various of my perfumes. And, when they go to my selling pages, they just might buy a bottle!

So I think that blogging a bit about your own perfume can be a very cost effective selling tool.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Give a gift ... make a fortune!

Recently I was reviewing the story of Jean Patou's Joy perfume -- how it was his little gift of joy for clients who, because of the Great Depression, could no longer afford to buy his frocks. Joy was hailed as "the world's most expensive perfume" (it was incredibly expensive to make) yet Patou distributed it free in 1931. The following year it went on sale. After Patou's death, Joy became a very important part of the business. Today it is in the hands of Proctor & Gamble.

More famous than Joy is Chanel's No.5. Without the money generated by the sale of No.5, the Chanel business would not exist today -- that's how successful and profitable this perfume has been. Even now when No.5 is considered "dated", it is THE product featured in perfume ads to draw buyers to the Chanel fragrance counter.

And, like Joy, No.5 was first distributed (in 1921) as a free gift. (In 1921, Europe was still recovering from five years of a horrendously destructive war plus the Russian Revolution.)

What does all this mean for you -- or for me? Once again I am working on a new fragrance, one for which I have a great deal of enthusiasm. It was compounded to be a man's fragrace -- an opposite to my Toxic -- but I now look at is as unisex. The name has not yet been finalized although I have a strong idea of what I want it to be. The "image" is still spinning around in my head (but I have a hazy vision of what I want) but I'm thinking ahead to marketing. Bottles (sprinkler neck) and caps are in stock and ready to go. The formula is finished but has to be rechecked for accuracy. So I'm almost ready to go ... but how do I sell it? Or should I give it away?

Now this is an expensive fragrance to make. It calls for the use of a number of costly materials, both natural and synthetic. (Yes, synthetic perfumery materials can be expensive too!) So for me, this is going to be my most expensive formula ever. Yet my inclination is to start the marketing process by giving it away ... and not just teensy-weensy sample bottles but rather nice, 1-ounce, flint glass bottles from a major Italian glass house. This is going to be an expensive free gift!

But who am I going to give it to? Not just anyone who asks! These bottles will be reserved for my best customers ... to give them a little more than they bargained for in this tight economy.

What will this do for the sales of this new fragrance? I can't be sure. But, if the fragrance is as good and as unique as I think it will be, I would hope that there will be some positive feedback ... and ultimately a market, however small and selective, will be created.

Give me about 18 months to work this one out! The plan is already going forward!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

How To Succeed By Working Backward

You may not want to follow the suggestions in this article. I don't always follow them myself. But whether you follow them or not, they are important and worth keeping in mind when you sit down to work on a new fragrance.

If you follow these suggestions your chances of commercial success will be greatly improved.

As creative types we like to think of our great creations as just popping out of our heads. Thus the straight forward way for us to create a new fragrance is first to have a brilliant idea – a mental vision of our new scent – then to develop the physical product that matches our mental vision, then to develop packaging for it, and finally to present it to the end user – a customer, relative, or friend.

This is what I call “working forward” and it is probably the most common creative path followed by perfumers who do not have to earn a living by selling what they create.

But it helps before you get started on a new fragrance to take a backward look at your project. One great advantage of doing this is that ultimately you will be less likely to experience the frustration of finding that nobody shows any genuine appreciation for what you have created. Even independent creative types are encouraged by the receipt of honest appreciation from others.


Working Backward – Step # 1 – The End User (Buyer, Relative, or Friend)

Unless you are making a fragrance strictly for yourself, at some point you will have to introduce it to another person. It may be a spouse, or lover, or friend, or relative, or shop owner, or purchasing agent. That's up to you. But, working backward, your first step is to identify the person to whom you might first present your finished perfume.

This person should be very real to you – ideally someone you know personally. If you cannot think of a person you know who can fulfil this role, stop and find one, even if it takes you weeks or searching. Without being able to identify this person – this real person to whom you really want to present your perfume – you are not yet ready to start creating.

Work at finding this person and then, when you have found him or her, work at knowing this person inside out. Find out about their income and spending habits, their lifestyle, their culture, their tastes. Be able to form an emotional bond with this person so that, when you begin developing your fragrance, you will be able to keep in mind exactly what will delight them the most. This now becomes your creative goal.


Working Backward – Step # 2 – The Presentation

There is a belief in the graphic arts and fashion world that presentation is everything. Those of us who are not great visual artists or fashion trendsetters sometimes cringe at this truth – but it is a truth. Presentation – the way your fragrance is bottled and packaged and presented to the customer – is very important.

So now you have to think about how to present your fragrance to this individual with whom you have bonded. What kind of presentation of your fragrance will be pleasing to him or her?

Your financial resources and graphic arts ability can appear to be a great obstacle. You have to work to overcome this, even if it takes weeks of research into bottles and packaging possibilities. Your selection of the “best” solution will, of course, be based on what you believe will be most appealing, among all affordable, possible solutions, to the target customer with whom you have formed that emotional bond.


Working Backward – Step # 3 – Developing Your Fragrance

Now you are ready to develop your fragrance itself. And, because you know the person to whom it will be presented, you have a lot of ideas on what this fragrance can be and what it cannot be. So your range of ideas is now limited, but limited in a positive way. And within these limitations (of what your soul partner would enjoy!) your possibilities are limitless.


Following this “backward” procedure when developing your next fragrance can be very, very satisfying!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The ultimate challenge for the independent perfume maker: Creating a successful men's fragrance

For the solo perfumer marketing his or her output, creating a successful men's fragrance is the ultimate challenge. It is a good deal harder than developing a new woman's fragrance.

Look at it this way. For a woman's fragrance, you want something that smells nice, lasts nicely (assuming you are allowed to use synthetic substitutes for those natural aroma materials of animal origin shunned today), is compounded with a touch of artistry, and is a bit different than available mass market perfumes.

So, for a woman's fragrance, you make something that smells nice, is long lasting, and is clearly an alternative to "known" fragrances. You find something floral, add a little this and that, boost it up with some great base notes and, bingo! A new and beautiful perfume!

I'm making it seem easier than it really is, but look now at what is involved in creating a successful fragrance for men.

Creating a successful fragrance for men

Men, it seems, are just starting to use cosmetics -- in places like England and Asia. Men, in our recent history, have been limited by culture in their exploration of the scented universe. Lots of older -- and younger -- men don't use fragrance at all. This is not because they claim fragrance allergies or are phobic about anything not "natural." For many men an appreciation of fragrance simply isn't a part of their culture.

Worse still, for many men who do use fragrance, the only fragrance they will use is after shave found in the shaving supplies section of their local supermarket.

So for starters, the male market for your niche fragrance is far smaller than it would be for a woman's fragrance. But there is still more to come. The older segment of the male market tends to be tradition bound and not very experimental. Just as they will wear the same styles in clothing that they wore in their teens and twenties, they tend to stick with the same fragrances they wore during those years, if they are still available. (This helps explain why certain men's fragrances remain on the market for so many years!)

We are now left with just a handful of men, generally young in age or spirit. This is our market. But there are still some serious challenges for anyone wanting to sell them a fragrance. Before they will buy a fragrance, it has to pass these three tests --

(1) It has to be acceptable to the women in their lives -- wives, lovers, co-workers, friends,

(2) It has to be OK with other men, and

(3) It has to create an immediate, favorable impression.

Men who might try a fragrance from a boutique perfumery are sophisticated in their knowledge of perfume. If your fragrance doesn't delivering something new and wonderful, they aren't going to buy it.

My own thinking of late (I'm working on a man's fragrance and feeling frustrated with my progress) is that a new fragrance is like an advertisement. The top note is your headline. It has to stop the prospect in his tracks and get him to savor the heart notes of your fragrance. The heart notes are the text of your ad.

The top note had to stop the prospect, not through shock but through a compelling "message," a promise of fragrant (and possibly other) delights yet to come. Then the heart notes -- the text of your ad -- must pay off the promise of the headline or the customer's fixation will be lost.

Here's something I can promise you: unless your top notes are able to send an immediate, compelling and important message to the customer, and unless your middle notes pay off the promise this message, you won't make a sale.

If your fragrance doesn't excite a man until it begins to unfold, you are too late. He won't hang around long enough to discover the good work you did down in the heart and base notes of your fragrance. The successful sale starts with a successful top note, and it's very, very difficult to achieve.

To succeed with a men's fragrance, you have to work incredibly hard to make your fragrance incredibly special. But, if you do succeed, there is the possibility that your fragrance too will be one of those that survive and sell successfully for many, many years!

The ultimate challenge for the independent perfume maker:

The ultimate challenge for the independent perfume maker:
Creating a successful men's fragrance

For the solo perfumer marketing his or her output, creating a successful men's fragrance is the ultimate challenge. It is a good deal harder than developing a new woman's fragrance.
Look at it this way. For a woman's fragrance, you want something that smells nice, lasts nicely (assuming you are allowed to use synthetic substitutes for those natural aroma materials of animal origin shunned today), is compounded with a touch of artistry, and is a bit different than available mass market perfumes.
So, for a woman's fragrance, you make something that smells nice, is long lasting, and is clearly an alternative to "known" fragrances. You find something floral, add a little this and that, boost it up with some great base notes and, bingo! A new and beautiful perfume!
In spite of the hundreds of perfumes now being launched each year, the market is wide open. The needs of the mass market -- celebrity fragrances, for example -- are such that they must be least "common denominator" perfumes, acceptable to as many fans of the celebrity as possible and created by perfumers who are severely limited in the raw materials they can employ due to cost constraints imposed by their clients.
(Synthetic aroma chemicals are not necessarily inexpensive. But often perfumers are required to use the least expensive synthetics in order to meet preset cost objectives.)
I'm making it seem easier than it really is, but look now at what is involved in creating a successful fragrance for men.

Creating a successful fragrance for men

Men, it seems, are just starting to use cosmetics -- in places like England and Asia. Men, in our recent history, have been limited by culture in their exploration of the scented universe. Lots of older -- and younger -- men don't use fragrance at all. This is not because they claim fragrance allergies or are phobic about anything not "natural." For many men an appreciation of fragrance simply isn't a part of their culture.
Worse still, for many men who do use fragrance, the only fragrance they will use is after shave found in the shaving supplies section of their local supermarket.
So for starters, the male market for your niche fragrance is far smaller than it would be for a woman's fragrance. But there is still more to come. The older segment of the male market tends to be tradition bound and not very experimental. Just as they will wear the same styles in clothing that they wore in their teens and twenties, they tend to stick with the same fragrances they wore during those years, if they are still available. (This helps explain why certain men's fragrances remain on the market for so many years!)
We are now left with just a handful of men, generally young in age or spirit. This is our market. But there are still some serious challenges for anyone wanting to sell them a fragrance. Before they will buy a fragrance, it has to pass these three tests --
(1) It has to be acceptable to the women in their lives -- wives, lovers, co-workers, friends,
(2) It has to be OK with other men, and
(3) It has to create an immediate, favorable impression.
Men who might try a fragrance from a boutique perfumery are sophisticated in their knowledge of perfume. If your fragrance doesn't delivering something new and wonderful, they aren't going to buy it.
My own thinking of late (I'm working on a man's fragrance and feeling frustrated with my progress) is that a new fragrance is like an advertisement. The top note is your headline. It has to stop the prospect in his tracks and get him to savor the heart notes of your fragrance. The heart notes are the text of your ad.
The top note had to stop the prospect, not through shock but through a compelling "message," a promise of fragrant (and possibly other) delights yet to come. Then the heart notes -- the text of your ad -- must pay off the promise of the headline or the customer's fixation will be lost.
Here's something I can promise you: unless your top notes are able to send an immediate, compelling and important message to the customer, and unless your middle notes pay off the promise this message, you won't make a sale.
If your fragrance doesn't excite a man until it begins to unfold, you are too late. He won't hang around long enough to discover the good work you did down in the heart and base notes of your fragrance. The successful sale starts with a successful top note, and it's very, very difficult to achieve.
To succeed with a men's fragrance, you have to work incredibly hard to make your fragrance incredibly special. But, if you do succeed, there is the possibility that your fragrance too will be one of those that survive and sell successfully for many, many years!

The ultimate challenge for the independent perfume maker: Creating a successful men's fragrance

For the solo perfumer marketing his or her output, creating a successful men's fragrance is the ultimate challenge. It is a good deal harder than developing a new woman's fragrance.
Look at it this way. For a woman's fragrance, you want something that smells nice, lasts nicely (assuming you are allowed to use synthetic substitutes for those natural aroma materials of animal origin shunned today), is compounded with a touch of artistry, and is a bit different than available mass market perfumes.
So, for a woman's fragrance, you make something that smells nice, is long lasting, and is clearly an alternative to "known" fragrances. You find something floral, add a little this and that, boost it up with some great base notes and, bingo! A new and beautiful perfume!
In spite of the hundreds of perfumes now being launched each year, the market is wide open. The needs of the mass market -- celebrity fragrances, for example -- are such that they must be least "common denominator" perfumes, acceptable to as many fans of the celebrity as possible and created by perfumers who are severely limited in the raw materials they can employ due to cost constraints imposed by their clients.
(Synthetic aroma chemicals are not necessarily inexpensive. But often perfumers are required to use the least expensive synthetics in order to meet preset cost objectives.)
I'm making it seem easier than it really is, but look now at what is involved in creating a successful fragrance for men.

Creating a successful fragrance for men

Men, it seems, are just starting to use cosmetics -- in places like England and Asia. Men, in our recent history, have been limited by culture in their exploration of the scented universe. Lots of older -- and younger -- men don't use fragrance at all. This is not because they claim fragrance allergies or are phobic about anything not "natural." For many men an appreciation of fragrance simply isn't a part of their culture.
Worse still, for many men who do use fragrance, the only fragrance they will use is after shave found in the shaving supplies section of their local supermarket.
So for starters, the male market for your niche fragrance is far smaller than it would be for a woman's fragrance. But there is still more to come. The older segment of the male market tends to be tradition bound and not very experimental. Just as they will wear the same styles in clothing that they wore in their teens and twenties, they tend to stick with the same fragrances they wore during those years, if they are still available. (This helps explain why certain men's fragrances remain on the market for so many years!)
We are now left with just a handful of men, generally young in age or spirit. This is our market. But there are still some serious challenges for anyone wanting to sell them a fragrance. Before they will buy a fragrance, it has to pass these three tests --
(1) It has to be acceptable to the women in their lives -- wives, lovers, co-workers, friends,
(2) It has to be OK with other men, and
(3) It has to create an immediate, favorable impression.
Men who might try a fragrance from a boutique perfumery are sophisticated in their knowledge of perfume. If your fragrance doesn't delivering something new and wonderful, they aren't going to buy it.
My own thinking of late (I'm working on a man's fragrance and feeling frustrated with my progress) is that a new fragrance is like an advertisement. The top note is your headline. It has to stop the prospect in his tracks and get him to savor the heart notes of your fragrance. The heart notes are the text of your ad.
The top note had to stop the prospect, not through shock but through a compelling "message," a promise of fragrant (and possibly other) delights yet to come. Then the heart notes -- the text of your ad -- must pay off the promise of the headline or the customer's fixation will be lost.
Here's something I can promise you: unless your top notes are able to send an immediate, compelling and important message to the customer, and unless your middle notes pay off the promise this message, you won't make a sale.
If your fragrance doesn't excite a man until it begins to unfold, you are too late. He won't hang around long enough to discover the good work you did down in the heart and base notes of your fragrance. The successful sale starts with a successful top note, and it's very, very difficult to achieve.
To succeed with a men's fragrance, you have to work incredibly hard to make your fragrance incredibly special. But, if you do succeed, there is the possibility that your fragrance too will be one of those that survive and sell successfully for many, many years!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

An opportunity that I deliberately ignore could become a big money maker for you.

Unless you're a great marketer with an ego that DEMANDS that you have your name written big on the fragrances you create, I have a "business opportunity" for you -- one that, to date, I keep walking away from. It's called "private label perfume."

As you may or may not know, "private label" cosmetics are a big business. "Private label" involves a manufacturer or middleman developing a stock product and then selling it branded with the retailers name. In the world of cosmetics, a very small retailer can, without much difficulty, obtain a complete line of cosmetics with their own name on it at a very affordable price.

Many of these small retailers and entrepreneurs would also like to have their own perfume. But "private label" perfume doesn't exist.

The reason why sources of "private label" perfumes don't exist is simple. Creating a successful perfume is a far more complex task than creating a cosmetic product. 90% of a cream, for example, is advertising hype. Everyone's creams are pretty much the same with the difference being the packaging and, often, the use of exotic ingredients or "new breakthroughs from science."

But the efficacy of these special ingredients is not easily demonstrated to the consumer. Only through advertising or personal sales pitches can the idea of the product's superiority be implanted in the consumer's mind. The consumer (truly!) cannot really "prove," in use, that one cream is superior to another. As for lipstick, anyone can easily reproduce the popular shades.

But perfume poses problems. Setting aside the issue of packaging, which is not particularly difficult for a private label product, there is still the issue of AROMA. And, unlike the claims that might be made for a cream -- or selecting the popular shades for lipstick -- a perfume can be "comparison tested" by the consumer against every other fragrance they have ever encountered, at fragrance counters, on other women, on granny's dresser. The nose passes judgment.

So to sell a fragrance successfully, private label or whatever, the aroma must (1) be pleasing to the consumer and (2) "original" enough so that it is not perceived as simply a knock off of something available elsewhere.

This, of course, is very challenging for the creator.

A private label perfume poses the ADDITIONAL challenge of needing a mass market appeal. Why? Because, as the seller, your market -- small retailers -- will be very diverse. A niche product will not succeed because THEY will be looking for a product with broad appeal.

So, in effect, you find yourself doing exactly what the major marketers of fragrance do each time they launch a new fragrance. They (1) want a fragrance that can be called "new," but (2) they don't want it to be too new or revolutionary, (just a little bit new so that the consumer's nose does not have to be reprogrammed,) and (3) they want it to have mass market appeal.

To succeed with a private label business, your creations would have to be similar.

Of course this is a huge challenge and, you may ask, "if I'm able to create perfume that would meet the standards of a major marketer, why would I abandon my own name and brand and sell it as a private label product?

The answer, of course, it to make money!

IF your perfume meets the three criteria mentioned above, it will be much easier to sell it to small retailers in bulk as "private label" than it will be to retail it on your own, or to sell it with your own brand name to major retailers.

IF your perfume meets the three criteria mentioned above, with a minimum amount of promotion you should be able to generate inquiries that have the potential of being turned into orders.

There are a few steps you will have to take to close your sales. Your perfume must be nicely bottled and boxed. The solution here is to buy, in bulk, a bottle and closure that will become your standard. Then, as all bottles and closures are the same, you can have a custom box made to fit the dimensions. On the front of the box -- and on the bottle itself -- will appear your actual LABEL (also of a standard size) which will carry your customer's name.

Whether you decide to name each fragrance yourself or allow customers to name individual fragrances would be up to you.

Of course setting up this business requires both time and capital as well as creativity in perfumery. You will have to purchase bottle, boxes, closures, labels, possibly some equipment to fill your bottles and print your labels. This could run you from $5,000 to $10,000 so certainly there is risk involved.

But the biggest risk lies in the possibility that you will not be able to create a series of six or more fragrances that meet the criteria mentioned above.

But, if you can pull it all together, this could be a profitable business which has the potential to grow large in scale.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Is it possible to launch a successful "internet only" perfume brand? (Part III)

This post is a continuation of my last post and the last of a three part series.

Step # 2 -- Converting appropriate website visitors into buyers

Once you learn how to attract good prospects to your website, your next step is to make a sale. This can be incredibly difficult.

To start with, unless your perfume was given a favorable review by another website, one which has an enthusiastic following of well-heeled perfume buyers, people who come to your website will have more CURIOSITY about you and your perfume than they will have interest in buying it. In fact, you might consider yourself lucky to have them just LOOKING at it! To turn them into buyers is going to take some extraordinary EFFORT!

The FIRST RULE to selling these people is to MAKE IT EASY FOR PEOPLE TO BUY. IF you happen to get lucky and someone decides they want to try your perfume, have your shopping cart set up and ready to take their order. The smoother you can make the process, the more likely they will be to COMPLETE their order -- meaning you get the money.

The SECOND RULE to selling people is to MAKE IT FUN, or in some way A PLEASANT, UPBEAT EXPERIENCE to do business with you. People will spend money for the intangible pleasure of dealing with a "fun" salesperson who makes the buying experience alone worth the entire purchase price. So don't bust chops. Be nice to your prospective customers. Entice them, flatter them, let them know you CARE about them. DON'T hang big signs on your website reading "CASH ONLY" ... "ABSOLUTELY NO REFUNDS" ... "ALL SALES ARE FINAL." Make people feel that you have confidence in your product and confidence in THEIR integrity. You aren't out to rip them off and you trust them to deal honestly with you and not make complaints unless those complaints are fully justified.

The THIRD RULE is OFFER THE RIGHT DEAL. IF the deal you are offering seems too risky or too out of line with what the customer expects, no sale will be made, regardless of how charmed the customer was up to that point.

I can remember most vividly an experience in a dress shop in a small, semi-chic, upstate New York town when my wife was looking at a simple dress she liked (but noticed that it was badly sewn) and, because she was whim shopping, was prepared to pay sixty or eighty dollars ... but NOT the EIGHT HUNDRED dollars the sale clerk quoted. Sorry, folks. No sale!

I recently had a similar experience myself when trying to rent space in New York City for a perfumery workshop. After a pleasant chat with the rental agent, I was quoted a price ten times what I was expecting (and I knew the building and had lived in the neighborhood!) The quote was so ridiculous to me that I didn't bother trying to negotiate. I just walked away.

Think about your price points!

Pricing involves STRATEGY. Pricing involves your prospects ABILITY to pay and his or her WILLINGNESS to pay. There is no use pursuing a prospect that cannot afford your perfume. Instead, focus your attention on converting those who can afford your product. Woo them into becoming willing buyers.

One way to hit the right price point is to SIZE your product to fit. In other words, if you need to get $300 on ounce for your fragrance but know that the customer expects to pay about $100, offer your fragrance in 1/3 ounce (10 ml) bottles at $100 for 1/3 ounce.

And remember too, in selling a luxury product -- with yourself as the ONLY SOURCE (since it is your own perfume being sold only on your own website) -- a TOO LOW price can turn off sales as quickly as a "too high" price. You are not a discounter and your customers is looking for quality and originality, not "cheap."

Now let's look at how you get over the sales resistance barrier. Assume that you have brought prospects to your website (which, in itself, is difficult to do!) and assume (miracle!) that they have a real interest in the perfume that you are offering ... what do you do to make the sale?

Drawing on thirty years of experience in the mail order business, let me tell you. There is no mystery to this. The technique has been used for generations. It's the TWO STEP CLOSE -- LEAD and CONVERSION. It is simple and profitable. It can sell VERY EXPENSIVE items. Here's how it works.

BAIT THE HOOK -- In mail order, small, affordable ads can be used to get leads. Then, when you have the prospects name and address, you can mail them a BIG sales brochure, VIDEO, or even send a salesman to make a house (or office) call. In selling perfume on the internet, your "bait" is a SAMPLE. Please note that this is the SAME bait used at perfume counters in big stores!

Strategies for distributing samples will differ. In 1921, Chanel gave samples of her "No.5" perfume to customers, as a gift, before it was available for sale. Her customers were, of course, spending thousands of dollars with her. She could afford this pleasant giveaway.

For website inquiries you don't know who you are dealing with. My thought would be to make even the samples a bit exclusive, by charging a (small) amount of money for them so that you don't waste your distribution on people with no intention (and not enough money!) to buy.

But HOW you choose to distribute samples is up to you.

I should add here that the samples you send out should NOT be the same size and packaging as your regular size perfumes. They should, however, be presented to the customer with at least a degree of elegance. Again, how you achieve this will be up to you.

CATCH THE FISH -- The sample is your bait. Your bait has to be powerful enough to make the sale. The customer must, first of all, BE PLEASED with the fragrance you've sent out as a sample. In fact, the customer must be pleased enough to WANT MORE!

IF you find yourself sending out too many samples and not getting enough sales, consider that your problem may be in the perfume itself -- OR, possibly, in its price. Perhaps people like the perfume but don't feel that it is worth what you are charging. In this case, you can adjust your price (even if it means losing money!) and see if you can begin to make more sales. (You can make a "special offer" to those who are taking the samples.)

If reducing the price does not step up your number of conversions, it is likely that the problem lies in your perfume itself. It is simply NOT winning the hearts of your customers. Your best solution here it to go back into the laboratory and develop a more appealing fragrance.

FOOTNOTE : Packaging Elegance -- A nice bottle and elegant packaging can be a great help in stimulating orders. Unfortunately, the small, independent perfumer or perfumery is likely to find itself quite limited in its ability to purchase elegant bottles and to design and manufacture elegant packaging to set the bottle off.

There are a number of tricks that can be used here but packaging is a whole other topic, one that requires a good deal of study and experimentation and, when possible, assistance from a talented and knowledgeable graphic designer.

Lacking a source of assistance in packaging and presentation, my advice is simply, "Do the best you can!"

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Is it possible to launch a successful "internet only" perfume brand? (Part II)

This post is a continuation of my last post and the second in a three part series.

As has been said repeatedly, "CONTENT" is what builds visitor traffic on a website. "Content" generally refers to TEXT ... WORDS ... ARTICLES -- items that can be INDEXED by search engines. Photos do not qualify.

To be most effective, the CONTENT must relate to SEARCHES. If someone is LOOKING for particular information, and if your website offers the information that person is looking for, the search engines will guide the seeker to your website. This is "Internet 101" but it is often ignored or forgotten.

If there is no information on your website that will provide a resource for the seeker, search engines -- the most powerful advertising tool on the web -- will do NOTHING for you.

NOBODY is searching for your completely unknown, original, new fragrance because nobody knows it exists.

So your STARTING POINT in building your website-store is NOT your perfume. It has to be something else. BUT, that something else -- that CONTENT -- must be "content" that provides answers to search questions that might be asked by the very same people who will be prospects for your perfume. (I described these peoples in my previous post in this series.)

Let me give you an example. I sell (successfully) books and materials on perfume making on my website, PerfumeProjects.com. When starting that website, the most important "content" was what I called "The Museum of Modern Perfume" -- a series of articles and pictures of some great and not so great perfumes, on perfumers, and on marketers of perfume.

This "museum" draws a great many visitors interested in tracking the history of a bottle of perfume that their grandmother left when she died, people seeking information on a fragrance company they or a relative once worked for, and people simply trying to find out more about their favorite classic fragrance.

The museum has expanded over the years and brought more and more visitors to that website. The "hits" on that website have advanced its standing with the search engines and so, when people look for information on perfume making and perfume making supplies, PerfumeProjects.com is likely to be fetched up to them in response to their search -- meaning more sales for me.

Once you begin to develop a following, you can expand your product range, just like any sharp retailer. This means even more sales.

Now the museum content DOES NOT pull in visitors wanting to buy MY perfume -- just my supplies. But the concept is a step in the right direction -- getting my name known, building credibility, enhancing my reputation -- with the hope that, in time, people will go to my OTHER website -- my retail shop -- and try my perfume.

So, to build YOUR website, think in terms of what you might offer, to draw prospective customers to your website. It won't be your perfume itself -- at least not in the beginning -- but it might be some (original) information on how you MAKE your perfumes, on what inspires you, some technical details on perfume making that don't give away your trade secrets.

Think of YOUR own interests at they relate to perfume. I was interested in the development of modern fragrances and the people who created and sold them. You might be interested in natural perfumery, aromatherapy, spa products, exotic aroma materials -- or whatever. And if you write about your interest and post your articles on your website, you too are likely to start building up RELEVANT traffic on your website which, in time, could offer you a viable outlet for the perfumes that you make.

These are ideas for bringing good prospects to your website. Next I'll give you some thoughts about how to make the sale.

...to be continued.


Is it possible to launch a successful "internet only" perfume brand?

A great deal of perfume is sold over the internet. I've purchased a fair amount myself. There's eBay for "hard to find" fragrances plus a half dozen or more major retails who offer far more fragrances than you can find at your local mall.

These sales take place because the buyer is LOOKING for a particular fragrance and, going to the internet, can find a convenient, affordable source.

But what about the UNKNOWN perfumers who is creaeting new fragrances under his or her own (UNKNOWN!) brand name? Can the internet provide him or her with a viable sales outlet?

Setting up a website costs a tiny fraction of what it would cost to set up a single retail store. But setting up a website can easily cost MORE than what it would cost you to sell, face-to-face, out of your garage or home.

The internet has the POTENTIAL to reach a huge audience. But this is only a POTENTIAL. A very large number of websites draw NO VISITORS AT ALL. Having a website is NOT the same as having a BUSINESS. To have a BUSINESS on the internet you must be able to generate SALES. How many times have you seen a new business set up in your neighborhood, open with great fanfare, then close in a matter of months -- because they could not generate sales? The internet is no different.

To launch your unknown perfume brand on the internet you need to (1) draw qualified prospects to your website and (2) convert enough of these prospects into cash buyers to make your "internet-only" perfume brand profitable.

In short, you need the same two elements you would need to operate a retail store -- or chain of stores -- or any other successful distribution network for your perfume.

With the internet, the real question is, "How can I do it?"

Some hints at a solution

STEP # 1

Your first step in developing your website to sell your unknown perfume will be to build up your own reputation among people with an interest in TRYING and USING "unknown" fragrances. The person who will buy only well known brands is NOT going to become your customer. The person who buys only what is "fashionable" is NOT going to become your customer (unless you can find a way to make yourself or your perfume "fashionable" -- which is DIFFICULT.)

Your best prospect will be someone with an interest in FRAGRANCE (not BRAND NAMES!), has enough curiosity to seek out oddball fragrances (like yours!) and enough "mad money" to buy at least a small bottle, to give your fragrance a try.

How do you attract these potential customers to your website? Certainly NOT by simply showing a bottle of your perfume and its price.

...to be continued.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Selling the Scent? Why NOBODY does that!

Suppose you had a fragrance to sell -- a fragrance you created and had a very good feeling about -- suppose you had this great fragrance to sell ... and NO fancy packaging. None. How, then, would you go about selling your fragrance?

It is hard to even imagine being in this position. It is hard to think of a perfume stripped of its packaging. Perhaps the last person to pull off this trick was Gabrielle Chanel -- in 1921. But, then again, her No.5 is still a best seller.

And this leads me to believe that it could be done -- selling a new, wonderful fragrance without any "push" from a beautifully designed package. But how would you go about doing it? Oh, and did I forget to mention? This is to be an expensive perfume!

Notice how hard it is to think of a perfume without its packaging. Notice how badly we want to connect the perfume with a "celebrity" or with some tangible, physical presence that is NOT the scent itself. Notice how lame major advertising is for a fragrance when the issue of words arises.

Tresor? "love is a treasure" -- but what does it smell like? My Insolence? "dare to be yourself" -- but the perfume??? Euphoria? "live the dream" -- but what will I smell when I open the bottle? Armani Code? "the secret code of women" -- code? What code? And on it goes.

The issue of the fragrance -- the scent -- is ignored because the advertisers haven't a clue as to how to write about it in a compelling manner. Is this an inherent problem with the fragrance of a perfume or is it simply a lack of advertising skill on the part of the advertisers?

Is fragrance -- the scent of the liquid in the bottle -- really so intangible that it can't be described?

Food advertisers seem to have no trouble talking about the contents of their packages. Is this simply because we are more familiar with the taste of lemon, sugar, cranberry, tomato juice, chocolate chip cookies, tangerines, mangoes -- for example? But is our familiarity with these tastes the result of them being talked about? Has our talk made the taste of these foods seem less abstract? Suppose we talked more about the scents of perfumes. Would it then, in time, become easier to write about new perfumes by describing their aromas? Is this just a part of our language which is not well developed (and not likely to become well developed, if perfume advertisers continue to shun the topic!)

Getting back to our expensive perfume without a packaging budget (or a celebrity!) ... is there some creative solution -- creative breakthrough, actually -- that would allow us to sell it successfully?

I feel confident that a solution can -- and will -- be found. And that it will be the beginning of the next big creative wave in perfume marketing.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Pricing A New Fragrance For Men

I am awaiting delivery of a new perfume compound -- a men's fragrance which I will market as a "cologne," even though it will be perfume strength by its use of alcohol.

I have always tended to "cheat" a bit when it comes to deciding the ratio of compound to alcohol for a men's product. Fillers sometimes complain but customers appreciate the fact that my fragrances are "long lasting," which surprises them because most men's fragrances are not.

Being generous with quality is good business but let's get right down to the big issue -- packaging and pricing.

I am assuming that my new male fragrance will be a "hit." It was intended for a special audience -- not the mass market -- and I'm hoping that those for whom it was intended will like it enough to give me repeat orders. I will offer samples to let them try it first. Men who like a fragrance (teenagers excepted) tend to wear it for many years. Teen guys are still experimenting, exploring "mass" taste, finding their own taste, and they can be a very fickle market, just like teen girls.

But lets assume in advance that my new project will be a hit. Let's focus on the really big issue -- packaging -- which is the issue which will determine the price I can charge.

While I would like to think that my fragrance is so spectacular that it, alone, will draw orders, the reality is that most sales will be closed by the credibility of the packaging. If I have "nice" package, I can charge more. If my packaging is less distinguished, I'll have to settle for less. But I have two big problems here -- first, I am not a package designer, and secondly, I am planning to fill at most a few hundred bottles of my new fragrance and I don't want to offer this product for sale unless I can sell it at a profit.

Does this "problem" sound familiar?

Frankly, I don't know a graphic designer I could both afford and trust with the project. I'm sure that if I had more money to spend I could find one but my "account" isn't sizable enough to attract designers who will give me highly professional presentations "on spec." That's the current reality.

Then there is the issue of quantity. Printers have minimum runs. I have yet to find a "stock" box that fits my needs nicely so any box or tube would have to be "custom" -- which means a minimum order in excess of 1,000 units -- or perhaps even 5,000 -- even though I might only want from 100 to 500.

Now for this project there is an additional "complication." I am planning to offer my new fragrance in three different sizes -- sampler size, a 50ml "sprinkler neck" bottle (no spray pump), and (possibly!) a rather nice 100ml bottle with a glass stopper (which will cost me an arm and a leg!)

So now you see my limits and my ambition. How would YOU deal with the pricing? It is, after all, critical to the success of the project.

There must be a consistency in my pricing structure. When measured on a "per milliliters of fragrance" basis, my sampler has to be the most expensive and my middle size "ordinary" bottle has to be the least expensive. The large, exotic bottle can command a premium price due to its unusual beauty.

So let's look at some possible pricing.

Suppose I decide to price my big, beautiful, 100ml bottle at $240. Ignoring the cost of the bottle and packaging, that puts the price of the fragrance at $2.40 per milliliter.

Now let's address the price to be charged for samples. I plan to use a 3ml spray vial here. I have them in stock already. So if the price of the fragrance in my sample were to match the price of the fragrance in my big bottle, the sample would be priced at $7.20.

But I don't believe that a single sample vial will be large enough to "hook" new customers on my cologne. So I'll want to deliver a package with two sample vials. That brings it to $14.20. By rounding this UP to $15.00 I have now made the fragrance in the sample MORE EXPENSIVE than the fragrance in the "big bottle."

The reason I want to do this is simple. If people really WANT my cologne, I don't want them to be able to save money by buying lots of cheap samples in lieu of regular size bottles. Hence, my samples aren't going to be cheap -- they are simply a way for the customer to make a more affordable TEST of my new fragrance.

Now let's get real about $240 bottles. How many do I really expect to sell? Truthfully? Not many.

My big hope is for a bottle with an intermediate price. As it happens, I have a generous supply of 50ml sprinkler neck bottles on hand along with caps for them. These bottles and caps were acquired at a favorable price so, if I can sell my new cologne in these bottles, I can make a handsome profit. How, now, should I price my 50ml bottles?

At our original number, $2.40/ml, the 50ml bottle would be priced at $120.00. But this isn't a fancy bottle so I can charge less. But I want to keep the price "premium" so I'm not going to try and match the prices of men's fragrances at the mall. (While the packaging of these mass market fragrances may be far more expensive than mine, and while they have been created by perfumers with far more experience and talent than mine, my compound uses far more expensive ingredients than theirs AND the scent of my new fragrance would never make it in the "mass market" as it would be far too controversial for most men, far too "far out," far too "edgy.")

So on the one end of the scale, I have a top price of $120 and on the other end of the scale, a "mall price" of say, $45. I want to be in the middle so I'm going to go with $85.00.

Now ask, "why not $84.99?" Or even $79.99? To boost sales by giving a perception of a lower price.

The answer is simple. I don't want the perception of a lower price! I want the perception of "this IS the price. If you can't afford it, it isn't for you." Yes, I want a price that says, "My fragrance is for those who can pay the necessary price. Take it or leave it. And, if you leave it, it is probably because you can't afford it ... and I didn't make it for people like you. Sorry, go out and get rich like my real customers. Then buy my fragrance."

As I write this, the compound for this new fragrance is in transit to me from the people to who were entrusted to make it from the formula I gave them. The alcohol I will be using is already here. When the compound arrives, there is the business of mixing the compound with alcohol. Then it all sits for a while and gets nicely mixed. Then the bottling begins.

If you want to follow the progress of this men's fragrance which has not yet been named, go to this web page where it will be offered for sale. The samples should be available around May 30th, 2008. Now here's that link:

http://www.FrankBush.com/mens_originals/xm_001.php

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Why you MUST develop the ability to sell

Two days ago I was talking to a customer who was working on the packaging for a new perfume, having learned to sell perfume successfully. He asked me about my own sales and I told him candidly that, at present, I am more interested in learning to make perfume than to sell it, although I have several fragrances for sale at one of my websites, and I "give away" a growing amount of perfume with the books I sell, as examples of what can be done with a very limited budget.

But getting back to selling. SALES are the difference between a hobby and a business. To be in business -- any business -- you have to develop the ability to make sales.

SELLING is a skill that can be LEARNED. That is why giant corporations run training sessions for their sales STAFF. If they relied on the ability of a handful of "naturals," they could not do business on the scale they do.

Once acquired, the skill of selling works equally well in good times and in bad. In a down economy, it is interesting to see who is doing the most advertising and selling. You can't be in business if you stop putting substantial attention on sales!

Today there are more opportunities than ever to make money with perfume. But SELLING is involved. And selling -- successful selling -- involves creative thinking about products and markets and the ART of perfumery.

Today the raw materials of perfumery, the raw materials of packaging, and the "raw materials" of sales promotion are available to ANYONE who can put together a few thousand dollars in capital. Five thousand dollars can be a GIANT budget for the independent perfumer, more than enough to get the product and the message out there.

So what do you REALLY need to make sales in your own perfume business? Start with perfume -- a perfume that grabs you ... and others -- add PACKAGING -- packaging which is APPROPRIATE for the people to whom you want to make sales (and cost-effective for you!) -- and finally you need PEOPLE -- people who will buy your fragrance, because you have sold it to them.

That is a business and it can be very profitable. If you understand the importance of developing YOUR OWN ability to make sales!

Monday, March 10, 2008

5 Day Perfumery Course In New York City, May 5-9, 2008

Greetings --

This may be considered a "commercial" announcement but I believe that it is important to independent perfumers who are looking for new ideas, informations and contacts. Hence, I have reproduced our recent press for a 5-day perfumery course in New York City that we are co-sponsoring:

=========

For Immediate Release:

Maybrook, NY, May 10th, 2008 -- How often do fragrance, fashion, beauty biz professionals, and business owners have the chance to roll up their sleeves, reach for bottles of aroma chemicals, and work "hands on" at creating a perfume of their own?

This May 5th through May 9th a select group of industry insiders will have the opportunity to become students again when iconoclastic British perfumer, Stephen V. Dowthwaite, brings his 5-day "The Art and Technology of Perfumery" immersion course to New York City. Students will observe and take notes as Dowthwaite creates an original perfume and answers all questions concerning the process. Then, in afternoon sessions, they will create their own individual fragrances which will be completed by day four of the course.

If this sounds impossible, look to the results achieved by 42 youngsters, age 10-18, who recently took Dowthwaite's course at Harrow International School. After just six hours of training in smelling techniques, odor classification and basic fragrance creation, each had created their own personal fragrance, working from their own personal perfume brief.

Far from being a weapon to destroy the perfume industry, Dowthwaite's perfumery training courses give students a greater appreciation of both perfume and the work of perfumers. Dowthwaite believes that perfumery -- like art and music -- is a creative form that can and should be enjoyed by a far wider range of men and women than those selected for salaried positions in industry.

And -- good news for the fragrance industry -- Dowthwaite's students are far more likely to build vast personal libraries of new fragrances than the average man or woman.

Besides "hands on" creation, the course will cover a range of technical and aesthetic issues including aromatherapy and spa theory, perfume applications including cosmetics and toiletries, cosmetics ingredients, perfuming for functional products, dealing with perfume inquiries, marketing the language of smell, product trouble shooting, quality control, safety, standardization and packaging.

On May 7th, Hugues Thibaud, head of of O.Berk's luxury packaging group, will be explain the technology of semi-automatic bottle making which is now being used to produce custom and factice bottles in runs of less than 50 bottles. Thibaud's most recent project was a signed, limited edition set of decorative bottles created by legendary package designer, Pierre Dinand.

Dowthwaite, trained at Picot Laboratories in England, claims authorship to over 300 fragrances and flavors currently on the market. Based in Bangkok since 1989, Dowthwaite helped launch Thailand's first perfume compounding facility and currently consults for all three of Thailand's major fragrance houses. He is also a consultant to Thailand's National Science and Technical Development Agency and has been teaching perfumery at the university level and to private students since the early 1990's.

Attendance is limited to fifty. Advance registration is required. The course is sponsored jointly by PerfumersWorld, Ltd. (PerfumersWorld.com) and Lightyears, Inc. (PerfumeProjects.com)

For more course details and registration information, visit www.PerfumeProjects.com.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

"The retail price of a bottle of perfume is largely determined by the environment in which it is sold."

One of the first lessons I was taught in the mail order business -- lifetimes ago, so it seems -- is that the retail price of any particular item should be the price at which profit is maximized.

Sometimes profit is maximized by keeping the retail price low and selling in volume; other times the price is maximized by restraining volume and pumping up the price.

In the mail order business, as it existed in the days of old, the optimum price could be determined by "price testing." Ads were run offering the identical item at several different prices. Then, analyzing sales volume, merchandise cost and advertising expense for each of the test cells, the most PROFITABLE retail price could be determined. From that point on, the item would be sold at that price.

Notice that, in this model, setting the price has nothing to do with the COST of the item. In fact, the most profitable price could be one at which the item is sold at a LOSS, although I hope this never happens to you.

This method of pricing ignores the concept of a "standard" markup, be it 3 time cost, 5 times cost or even 10 times cost. Instead, the retail price is set based on
CONSUMER BEHAVIOR.

Now how does this apply to perfume?

What does a buyer EXPECT to pay for a bottle of perfume?

Think quick. If you see a perfume in a dollar store, what do you expect to pay for it? Certainly not $45. No, you expect to pay ONE DOLLAR. Conversely, it you saw a bottle of perfume priced at one dollar in Saks, Bloomingdales or Neiman-Marcus, you would ask, "What's the gimmick?" The price would not seem right. If you saw a one-ounce bottle of Chanel No.5 EDP in WalMart's prices at an "everyday low price" of $145 -- you would ask, "What is Chanel No.5 doing in WalMart?" because you might feel that something about this bottle and price was "not right" -- "not right for regular WalMart shoppers because regular WalMart shoppers don't buy real Chanel No.5; "not right" for anyone else because they would question how WalMart happened to have obtained a Chanel perfume.

The simple truth is, the perfume buyer goes into a particular store EXPECTING to find perfume prices within a certain RANGE. The more desirable -- "hot, new" -- fragrances can be expected to be at the high end of this range, the proven standbys in the middle, and perhaps a few "economy" fragrances at the lower end. But the buyer HAS a price range in mind for ALL of the store's offerings and a fragrance prices outside of this range will seem "wrong" -- and will be harder, or even impossible, for the store to sell.

The cost of making your perfume

When a major fragrance marketer plans a new fragrance, the FIRST step in the process is to determine a retail price point. From there, an acceptable manufacturing COST can be determined, based on the margin the manufacturer wants for this product. (Major fragrance marketers DO NOT "price test" in the way mail order people once did, but they do have huge amounts of accumulated data on what consumers have been willing to pay in the past for particular fragrances.)

For the creative perfumer, the fragrance itself comes first and cost is secondary. Big companies rein in this tendency. The small, independent perfumer is not so constrained but this lack of constraint can cause problems by allowing the perfumer to build a fragrance that costs more to produce than it can fetch at retail.

So you, the independent perfumer -- just like the mass market perfumer -- MUST give consideration to the retail price that your creation can reasonably fetch -- and build your formula accordingly.

This issue is particularly important for independent perfumes who use a lot of NATURAL materials in their compositions as these can pile on the costs VERY quickly.

The selling environment

Where are you going to sell your perfume? What kind of retail outlet? Let's look at the LEAST likely first.

A Website --
IF you are mad enough to think you can make money selling your fragrances on a website, the "aura" you create for that website will largely determine what price you will be able to get for your fragrance, assuming you are ABLE to sell it at all on the internet -- which is a tough proposition, so don't give up your daytime job!

"Fancy graphics" are necessarily the component needed to create the aura needed to sell perfume at $85 an ounce and up. Remember how Chanel build a perfume empire stressing SIMPLICITY -- but also by stressing Chanel!

How you create a website aura that will allow you to get the price you want ... is YOUR problem to work out. But unless you can do it, forget trying to make money selling your perfume "web only."

A retail boutique --
IF you are really into it, with money to burn, you might try your own retail boutique. A few companies have done it; none too successfully. Giorgio tried it in New York, as did Helena Rubinstein (for her husband!) If you own your own store and have lots of money, you can create whatever retail environment you want. The danger is you won't be able to sell enough of your perfume to cover your expenses.

Somebody else's retail store -- Most people making their own perfume at least HOPE they will be able to retail it through someone's existing store. THE BIG FANTASY for some is that the fragrance will become a huge hit and be taken in by a major retailer. I know of NO instance where this has ever happened. Coty, Estee Lauder, Gale and Fred Hayman all came close to this ideal but none of them opened the doors to major retail sales outlets by simply having a "good" fragrance. Each of them engaged in a LOT of selling!

A more realistic approach is to deal with stores -- boutiques -- where you feel comfortable shopping and where you feel comfortable working out a deal with the store's buyer. Buyers know their customers. They KNOW what customers want AND WHAT THEY WILL PAY. Assuming they are willing to give YOUR fragrance a shot, they know pretty well how to price it.

What this means is that the price for your perfume will be determined by the STORE ... not by you. If you've put your all natural fragrance into an eighty dollar bottle and the store says they can't price it above fifty-five dollars ... you've got a problem!

Conversely, if -- because of the selling environment of the store -- they want you to price your perfume at $135 ... you don't have to tell them that your cost comes to less than six dollars a bottle!