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!