Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Learning from the Leaders: Perfume, the t-shirt of today

 There was once a crop of t-shirts that bore the message "My parents went to [Acapulco, Cape Cod, Orlando, San Antonio, or wherever] and all they bought me was this t-shirt."

T-shirts became the classic tourist gift store item because (1) they were practical (if a bit overpriced) and (2) they established that you (or your parents!) had the money and the good taste to vacation in some desirable destination.

Bands got in the act. You "supported" your favorite band by wearing their t-shirt. Who, after spending a fortune to see Bieber or Minaj, would not spend a few bucks more to "support" them by buying and wearing a t-shirt that commemorated the event?

Unprinted t-shirts are cheap. Printing a message on a t-shirt is simple and inexpensive. So t-shirts became standard "band merch" sold by every Saturday night bar band at their gigs.

Then came perfume. In case you've missed this, marketers have gone beyond the generic "celebrity perfume" category and discovered that the real money -- the huge profits -- lie in "music perfume." Forget athletes, forget authors, forget designers -- focus on singers. Why? Because they are the ones who have the huge numbers of supportive fans -- fans who buy their expensive concert tickets, fans who buy their (overpriced?) t-shirts, fans who buy their ... perfume!

Justin Bieber -- he's a guy, right? -- makes $3 million in perfume sales to women in less than a month and goes on to sell $39 million worth of WOMEN'S perfume in just over a year -- toe to toe with Taylor Swift and her fragrance. The 2012 fall/Christmas selling season is going to see a LOT of dollars from music perfume.

How does this relate to you?

A singer or band doesn't have to be A-List to have their own t-shirts. Every serious band and singer has t-shirts to sell at gigs, along with their CD's. Word has it that some groups with no more than a local or regional following are making more off their t-shirts than they make from either performances or CD sales.

Now what about perfume?

If you are reading this it's likely that you are interested in marketing perfume -- your perfume. But it's also likely that if you look around your city OR SMALL TOWN you'll find at least a dozen singers and bands that have more supportive followers than you have. (Dare I ask, do you HAVE any following at all?)

If you don't believe what I'm saying, start hanging out and observe the action. Live groups are playing. Are t-shirts being sold? Is money changing hands? How often is each band getting gigs? How far do they travel to get bookings? Are they self-managed or do they have a manager? Or an agent? Do they have their own website? Could they sell perfume? How much perfume could they sell?

Now -- a question for you. How big do you want YOUR NAME to be on the perfume you sell? Are you willing to share SOME of that billboard space (your tiny label) with a singer or band? Would you -- if you could make more money by doing it -- give ALL the credit for the perfume to a singer or band?

HINT: The more the fragrance appears to "belong" to the singer or band, the more sales will be made, for you.

Issues remaining --

(1) Producing your music fragrance in the right quantity for the singer or band's "market" so you don't overproduce (and lose money on unsold bottles) or under produce (and lose potential sales)

(2) Being able to produce your fragrance in relatively small quantities at a low enough cost-per-bottle that will allow the fragrance to be sold at a reasonable cost to fans and still yield a generous profit for both you and the singer or band.

I've written repeatedly on these last two issues elsewhere, in eBooks and our Club newsletter so I won't repeat myself on these two points here.