Perfume world is a beautiful world. It might sound plain or even vain to some of you. But being a part of this world is not only about smelling nice (or less nice) things, there’s much more than that. Perfume industry is full of smart & intelligent people who like to share their knowledge with a person like me, even if they do it without being fully aware of it. I’m very thankful for having a chance to learn from them. As someone who intends to be a professional in this industry it’s a lesson with no monetary value. I just hope I will be able to make good use of it when the time is right.
Market segment of fragrance products is growing every year, the figures go up by the value of few per-cent from one year to another. As the saying goes – the more you have, the more you want, which leads to our first question: will the perfume market ever become saturated or oversaturated? Some think that this is happening already. In my opinion we’re still at least few years away from that. I explain it to myself in these words: if the market expands that must mean that companies succeed in finding new audiences for their product. That means that new ‘unexperienced’ customers appear & there’s a high chance they will be willing to explore the market more in the years to come. On the other hand – is the creativity of perfumers endless? Will they be always able to deliver something new and exciting? Maybe, maybe not, I don’t know. Even today there are some perfume themes that are recycled, re-appearing all over again. As long as they sell, it’s all good.
Some time ago a friend of mine (an owner of a niche perfume brand) posed a very interesting yet difficult question: what is the ideal number of fragrances to present by a newly established perfume house? I know that each brand looks at it differently but since I am not a brand (yet?) I’d like to answer this question from a consumer point of view. One perfume is definitely not a good way to start. Why? Because it’s going to be a hit or miss. Either someone will like it or not, it’s so simple. Also considering expo areas such as Esxence or Pitti, 1 perfume bottle on display won’t gather a huge crowd of people wanting to try it, that’s what I think. Starting with 2 fragrances gives you statistically 50% higher chance of success. However it’s not statistics but people who are going to buy your fragrance; they have their own likes and dislikes. I think 3 is a magic number to answer this question. 3 is the smallest number that offers some variety, allowing the brand to create fragrances of different profiles. Also aesthetically, 3 bottles seem to always look good on display.
But let’s go back to the topic of tastes and preferences for a moment. Ever since I jumped through the so-called rabbit hole I was always eager to try more and more new fragrances. This was good, I learned a lot and shaped my own likes in this process. However not that long ago I noticed that I’m not so excited anymore for giving a try to something from a brand that I completely didn’t know, be it an existing brand or a completely new one. There’s a solid explanation for that. Over the years I grew attached to some brands, engaged in a friendly relationship with their creators & perfumers. With every new launch from them I knew what I could expect… Well, not really. I knew what style and quality I could expect, not how it will smell like. Whereas unknown brand was a complete enigma, it could either bring the tears of joy or tears of regret. As humans the feeling of safety matters to us a lot – even if perfume is not really a danger to us, a safe choice is more likely to happen. At least in my case, I’m not the one who is living dangerously.
I also noticed that I tend to be mostly attracted to brands that are not in a rush. If they take their time between introducing one perfume and another that’s a signal to me that a perfumer is given the right amount of time to create a fragrance that he or she will be fully satisfied with. The result will be a high quality perfume that I will most likely enjoy. If you need examples, here are a few: Neela Vermeire Creations, Jul et Mad, Puredistance. These brands launch a new fragrance once a year or even more seldom. They can always count on me being interested in what they have to offer next. On the opposite side of the spectrum are the brands that know no restraint. Brands that every other month (sometimes even week) tell us they have something new up their sleeve. How am I supposed to believe in the quality and originality of their fragrances? Call me crazy but to me presenting many fragrances at a time is a bit like a perfume promiscuity. It’s like the brand was unsure what to start with so in the end they decide to throw everything at us in one go. That’s why I stay away from brands like Byredo or Clive Christian. The latter one added 26 fragrances to their portfolio in 2017!
The big problem of last 2-3 years in niche perfumery is that the tendency gradually goes from quality to quantity. Prices per 100 ml bottle are often elevated to 200 euro. At this point the perfume should deliver desirable longevity achieved thanks to the use of best aroma materials available. The case is that more and more niche offerings don’t live up to their expectations. I’m not taking about reformulation or replacing naturals with synthetics – that’s a topic for a separate debate. In some cases I’m also noticing a huge downfall of quality in fragrances from brands that in recent years were bought by cosmetic giants. At the same time they launch more than they used to.
As a final word I’d like to ask you something. If you decide to leave a comment under this post, please be considerate by doing so. What I’ve written above are thoughts that came to my mind as the answers to the questions that I was really asked by some people from the industry. They solely express my own point of view. You have a full right to agree with it or not. None of the things stated in this article were meant to hurt anyone’s feelings. I apologize to anyone who felt differently.