How crowded is the perfume market today? Is there ROOM for new perfumes? Will there be room for new perfumes tomorrow? If the past is any example, the future will continue to be bright.
What many of us don't realize is that while, since about 1800, the number of MAJOR fragrance houses might have numbered in the dozens, fragrances -- colognes and perfumes -- were being created and sold by hundreds -- perhaps even thousands -- of small scale entrepreneurs -- the local druggist, for example.
Remember that Francois Coty, founder of an incredibly successful perfume empire, was first introduced to perfume by a druggist friend who made his own concoctions in his evening hours and sold them to his customers by day. The scale was small, even TINY, but no doubt quite profitable for Raymond Goery.
At the turn of the 19th century, the major fragrance houses, both in France, Russia, and the United States, were major because of their marketing abilities. Major French perfume houses -- L.T. Piver, Houbigant, Rigaud, Lubin, Guerlain -- had established worldwide distribution, South America and the United States being their major targets. Rallet and Brocard in Russia targeted Eastern European countries. Yet for every perfume company that sold internationally, there were dozens whose efforts never extended past their local markets.
To get some idea of the NUMBER of unknown or little known fragrance houses that were large enough to have SOME trace of their history preserved, visit eBay and search for "Vintage Perfume" and see listings for fragrance brands you've never heard of. And PerfumeIntelligence.com will make the eBay listings seem tiny.
As past generations have discovered, it isn't necessary to sell in large volume to make money selling perfume. What is necessary is the ability to produce a fragrance on a tight budget and the ability to sell that fragrance at a price level the customer expects. And, most important of all, the seller of perfume must have customers.
Typically perfume customers aren't customers for perfume alone. They may be buyers of a cosmetics line who pick up an affordable fragrance while shopping for their makeup needs. Helena Rubinstein, Elizabeth Arden, and Estee Lauder all took this route. Coty lured in buyers with his famous Air Spun Face Powder, then sold them small, affordable, bottles of his equally famous perfumes. Revlon entered the perfume business after first establishing a strong store presence with their nail polish and lipstick lines. Today Coty does well through drug store distribution.
Ask yourself, for example, how did "Bergel of Hollywood" distribute their "Orange Blossom" perfume? Certainly their ORIGINAL distribution wasn't eBay. Or how was "Bevis and Butthead" cool scent aftershave, packaged with "guaranteed pickup lines," sold? How did Ellyn Deleith sell "Blue Flame"? Was she a person or a company? Each of these fragrances, at the time of their introduction, no doubt had a target market they could address. And, while they are extinct today, they might very well have made a few dollars for their promoters while they were living brands.
Today perfume continues to have a future because of the large number of markets and market strategies that lend themselves to profitable fragrance sales. The real key to selling perfume today -- as it was in the past -- is to identify a market that you and your perfume can address profitably.