An ornate perfume is set on the shelf of my nearby Sephora. Curious, I take a small sample paper they offer and spritz it a few times. As I hold it up to my nose, a gorgeous blend of orange blossom, lavender, and musk whisk me away to a dream: a grove in a fragrant garden. Happily, I smell other perfumes. Then, my dreams fade away as I come back to the Sephora where my feet are placed, and realize that my family can’t afford these perfumes. Not because we are poor, but because designer brands sometimes set prices for up to $200 per bottle.
While it seems obvious that high-end brands would make costly scents, the bad part is that the products themselves cost very little to make, sometimes meaning the prices are a 1000% markup! Additionally, some small and designer brands use animal testing unfortunately, which is cruel but much more cost-effective compared to more merciful methods. Considering how perfume is seen as something so essential on both the vanity of men and womens, I wanted to uncover the reasons why it can be so costly.
Prestige and Glamor
For one, many people willingly buy from expensive companies for prestige. Similar to buying a Tesla for popularity, buying a Louis Vuitton or Yves Saint Laurent perfume shows two things: that someone has the money to buy them and that they have good taste.
This especially rings true for very famous ones, like Chanel No.5 and Dior J’adore, where one wants to try a fragrance that is very acclaimed and hyped. From knowing this appeal, major brands gain large sums of money that they use for advertising that further pushes this appeal to an audience. If one were to watch these ads, they would notice the glamorous sights and feels that the marketing tries to evoke. This status allows them to use cheap ingredients and animal testing but still markup the prices at large.
While there are many fragrances that are worth the money, there is oftentimes still an oversaturation of costs that aren’t justified, depicting how sometimes people buy a name rather than a material object.
Secondly, not all ingredients are cheap, though. There are many ingredients that are rare, making them expensive to export and buy for the process of creation.
Ingredients like ambergris and natural musk, common in many perfumes, are rare because they come from animal products originating in endangered animals.
Even more natural ingredients can come from a hefty price. Cocoa flowers, orris, oud, and even more ubiquitous ones like rose and jasmine can be costly for any business, especially in high volumes. High cost means that many brands will want to license their fragrances, which further exhausts time and money. Thus, the dichotomy of a perfume can already be a challenge.
Finally, the packaging can bring lots of expenses, depending on how the company wants to market the perfume and any additional things they might want to add. For instance, Louis Vuitton puts a transparent sprayer in theirs that makes their product unique. Even for simpler brands like Bath and Body Works, the artwork on the spray can mean the difference between someone purchasing and not purchasing. When it comes to weight, customers often associate it with value if they are buying something that has more product, so this is something that marketers also have to take into account.
While perfume can be a necessity in certain social situations, there are more things going on in the industry that delivers these scents. Because of packaging costs, advertising, and rare ingredients, brands sometimes have to justify higher costs. However, the consumer does not always have to do so.
Test sample scents by spraying them on your wrist to see if it blends well with your body chemistry, since that saves you money. Have a fixated budget, and look into brands that have ethical practices like no animal testing. Lastly, make sure to find out what type of scents you like, whether it be floral, fruity, etc, since it saves you time by limiting options and you’ll have a better chance of purchasing something you won’t regret. Now that you know all this, good luck shopping! Hopefully whatever you choose smells so good it turns heads!