“You know that’s not real perfume,” one of my best friends said, partly a question and partly a statement, as I shopped early for Christmas gifts. “Sure it is,” I replied. “All perfume is real, right?”
“Well, no,” my friend said, shifting into teacher mold, an attitude I’m familiar with because I do it frequently. But on this incredibly hot day in July–I told you I was shopping early for Christmas presents, right–as Darth Vader told Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars–“We meet again and this time I am the master.” Well on that summer day, I was the student, and a friend of mine who had also been a business colleague in several joint ventures was the teacher.
Therefore, during the past four months, I have learned more about perfumes and fragrances for men than I ever imagined that I needed to know, or even wanted to know. For example, I learned that everything I had bought for years to help me smell good, maybe even sexy, had been splash or cologne, with one percent and four percent perfume oils respectively. I had paid as much as $60 or more for a couple of ounces of that stuff over the years, thinking I was getting my money’s worth, but honestly wondering why what I wore did not last long. Why I had even bought so-called perfumes for girlfriends over the years, even for each of my wives during the more than 30 years I had tried multiple marriages–one-at-a-time, of course, and failed. I did not know until I began this more recent research project that I had spent an awful lot of money over the years for eau de toilette, aka EDT, and Eau de parfum, aka EDP. Those so-called perfumes–mere fakes by the perfumery industry’s minimum standards–have eight percent and 12 percent perfume oils respectively.
Guess what I’ll bet you thought you wore the real deal, too! But I will also bet you that if you’re a woman, you have probably not worn real perfume, and if you are a man, you have also probably not worn real fragrances, not by the minimum standards of the perfumery industry.
The perfume segment of the $197 billion beauty industry has begun to bounce back, according to recent industry news reports. For example, perfumes and other fragrances topped the $20 billion mark last year, up by almost $5 billion from 2004. The rebound went on display in the Perfume Expo America trade show held May 12-14 at the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York City. According to Expo director Bernard Pommier, “Perfumery is an art, not a commodity, and it should be traded as a luxury item. .we are planning additional shows like this and we hope to improve conditions for both marketers and retailers. We also want to rebuild niche perfumery by supporting emerging brands.”
The last three months, therefore, have been quite a learning experience for me, and I want to share with you what I’ve learned. First, of all, let’s define real perfume. To meet the minimum standard of “real” perfume, a fragrance must have at least 15 percent essential oils. These oils provide the richness and sensuality of the scent and help provide the three “notes” that real perfume exhibit. The scent that lingers within the first 30-45 minutes of application is the “first note.” The middle note refers to the scent that lingers later after the perfume begins mixing with the person’s body chemistry. The base, or third note, identifies the scent’s “staying power.”
Splashes, with one percent essential oils, colognes with four percent, EDT) with eight percent, and EDP with 12 percent do not have enough perfume oils to provide those three notes. Therefore, these products are far more expensive than they appear to be because it takes quite a bit of the fragrance to maintain a steady and constant level of “smelling nice.”
The designer perfumes, such as Chanel #5, Coco, Vera Wang, Red Door, Angel, and Euphoria to name a few of the top sellers, along with quality fragrances such as Hugo, Obsession, Polo Black and Issey Miyake for men have about 22 percent essential oils. Most of these familiar designer perfumes and quality fragrances for men usually retail for $250 to as much as $500 or more per ounce.
What would happen, I wonder, if someone developed a strategy to produce real perfume, along with quality fragrances for men, and targeted a mass market by selling a wide variety of those perfumes and fragrances for affordable prices? Such a producer would confront at least three major challenges. First, this producer could not infringe upon the formulas of the various designers, but at the same time would be better positioned if the company could produce precise replicas of the designer perfumes and fragrances for men. This new producer also could not violate the copyrights of the various designers but would have a positioning advantage if the company could somehow use portions of designer names already familiar to the public. The challenges, notwithstanding, such a producer would have a significant opportunity because a company cannot patent or copyright a “scent.” So as long as such a producer changed the formula and altered the name enough to afford copyright infringement, but retained sufficient brand identity to benefit from familiar designer names, the company could accomplish an unheard-of economic feat: improve products and reduce prices.
Would that work for you? What if you could wear the best perfumes and fragrances for men, respectively, at affordable prices, such as not much more than you currently spend on EDTs, EDPs, and less? Why put up with less when you can afford the best? Besides, from my perspective, the real deal is always the best deal.
I don’t have space here to get into the whole story, to examine all of the possibilities, but check out the links and learn more.
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