Thursday, June 7, 2018

How well do you know your perfume bottles?

    If you're working with a filling house which will guide you through your choice of bottles, all you're really interested in is the shape -- what it looks like visually -- and the capacity -- how many fluid ounces or milliliters of fragrance it holds.

    If you're bottling your own perfume and are hoping to sell more than a few dozen bottles of your fragrance, selecting a bottle with the right neck becomes important because (a) you will have to fill it and, (b) after you've filled it you'll have to attach a cap or spray pump. If the cap and spray pump are mismatched for the bottle, either you won't be able to attach them at all or, if you are able to force them onto the bottle (which sometimes can be done) there's a good chance your improvisation will cause a difficult to remove cap or a leaking spray.

    The simplest (and cheapest) solution to close your perfume bottle is with a screw-on cap. The cap must be the same "finish" (neck size and thread configuration) as the bottle but there is also an issue with the opening of the neck. Will it be wide open, which would make it "normal," or will the neck be constricted -- a "sprinkler" neck?

    If the neck is wide open, what happens when someone wants to use your perfume? Will they pour it out? (Messy!) But if your bottle has a sprinkler neck, how will you fill it? You'll find it's not so easy.

    These are some of the issues we deal with in How To Create Your Own Fragrance With A 1700 Percent Markup!

    But now suppose you want a spray pump on your bottle. This would be the preferred choice for a woman's fragrance. Again, the "finish" of your pump must match the finish of your bottle. But, with a spray, there's more to it.

    For a screw-on spray pump, all you need do is match the finish of your bottle. But suppose a lower profile bottle catches your eye -- one that has a crimp neck finish. You can't screw a spray pump onto a crimp neck. You need a crimp-on spray ... and a crimp-on spray can only be attached with a crimp machine ... and it's unlikely you have one or are ready to spend the money to buy one (hand operated models start around $2,500 and can be awkward to use).

    But, for your low profile bottle, you could find one that takes a snap-on spray. These are not so easy to find in the United States but they can be attached to a bottle by hand -- sort of. There's a great video on YouTube of a woman attaching a snap-on pump to a bottle. She places the neck of a second bottle over the pump to be attached ... then hits the second bottle with a hammer a few times to snap the pump onto the bottle. It seems to work but it makes me a bit nervous and she warns in her video, "Be aware you may encounter a few disasters initially..."

    I am testing snap-on spray pumps, on a very small scale. And yes, I've written about them in Creating Your Own Perfume With A 1700 Percent Markup! It's not all that hard to put together a good perfume or cologne you can sell. But it does help to have some guidance.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Perfume marketing headache

The problem with throwing all your money into marketing a perfume

    Before my first success with a fragrance I was involved in marketing vitamins. They typically cost us about $1.10 a bottle and sold for $21.95 -- a good markup. Our first successful fragrance cost us less than $1.50 a bottle and sold for $26.95 -- also a nice markup. But there was a difference between the two products that went beyond the markup. The difference was repeat orders.

    A mentor once told me never to launch a product until I had a second product ready. The point is, even when your product, by itself, is a success -- maybe even a large success -- the real payoff is in the next order, the second product or a reorder for the first product. Why? Because there are almost no marketing costs involved in making that second sale.

    The issue is lifetime customer value. Your best -- most valuable -- customers are the ones who buy from you again and again. Without repeat sales it is difficult to sustain any business.

    When I sold vitamins, customers placed reorders monthly, for years. This was a good business. But look at perfume. Think how long a bottle of perfume can last. Think of how, even when someone loves your fragrance, they might reorder one or two times a year -- and that would be a really good customer. Most perfume users can make a single bottle hold out for years. Thus, while your first order may be quite profitable, the followup business -- the repeat orders -- the lifetime customer value -- isn't there. That's why you need that second product.

    Few companies -- perhaps no company -- whether they be marketing giants or indies, try to make their money on perfume alone. There is always something else that the happy customer can buy from them -- room scents, candles, cosmetics, soap -- anything to increase the value of the first sale.

    Today I sell books, books on fragrance development and marketing. The problem is the same. Someone buys a book and that's nice, but it's nicer if that someone buys two books, or three.

    Look what major book publishers do to squeeze money out of a book. First there's the book, then the movie, then the soundtrack and DVD, then maybe some toys. The book is just a starting point for the marketer.

    So, for your perfume or cologne, by all means go forward with it. Keep your costs down and your quality up. Make money. But think about what else your customers might buy from you. Plan your second promotion. Have your second product available when people order your perfume.

    Sound out your market. See what they want and see if you can find ways to give it to them. Then your perfume becomes the bait that pulls customers in -- and those other products make your first sale far more profitable.
Off Topic
    The greatly revised, updated, and improved version of Creating Your Own Perfume With A 1700 Percent Markup! is now available at a greatly reduced price over what was once charged. If you are producing -- manufacturing -- a perfume either on your own or with professional help, you will find it useful.

Again, thanks for following these messages.

-- Phil


Friday, March 16, 2018

Can your company sell perfume? Are you ready for a test?

    As I slowly revise, update, and shorten Creating Your Own Perfume With A 1700 Percent Markup!, I've decided to leave off the original pages on testing. The method described, which was so important for us at the time, would be useful to few marketers today. Still, it can stimulate your thinking about the importance of testing so I've archived this testing report in a short online article.

    Testing is the art of buying information at a low cost before making a substantially larger financial commitment. Testing, done properly, can alert you to projects that are sure to bring financial disaster, and it can open your eyes to large, potentially profitable, opportunities.

    If your plan is to develop and market a new fragrance -- a project that will involve considerable expense -- testing, properly done, can lower your risk significantly by giving you answers to these two important questions:

    First, you want to be confident -- based on real data -- that your organization will be able to successfully market a fragrance. Will your people -- your market -- buy perfume from you? You want to answer this question before you put big money into developing a perfume.

    The second question -- will your particular fragrance sell -- I rate as less important. Why? Because once you have demonstrated (through testing) that your company can sell fragrance to your market, it is now just a matter of honing in on the scent that has the greatest appeal to them.

    Your testing strategy here can involve purchasing all the components of your fragrance in bulk (except for the label and the scent itself) and then filling and labeling only a small number of bottles for each test. If the fragrance takes off, you can fill more; if the fragrance bombs, you can use some of the remaining components for your next try... and the next after that if necessary.

    But once you've established that your company can sell fragrance to your market, your "failures" are not likely to be crushing. Even if a new scent you are testing does not yield a profit (or just not the profit you would like to see!), it's likely that you will make enough sales so that the results will be far from a total loss.

    One final note. Once you've found your winner, don't stop testing. Keep looking for the next winner so that when your current hit starts to lose steam you'll have a proven replacement in the pipeline.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Naming Your Perfume -- What's really important

    What follows is a short appendix to a revision of Creating Your Own Perfume With A 1700 Percent Markup! now in progress. Also in progress, a project to revise and combine two books: Naming Your Perfume And Protecting Your Name  and How To Create A More Valuable Name For Your Perfume .  
     Now here's what will appear as Appendix i in the new, short version of  Creating Your Own Perfume With A 1700 Percent Markup! --

    A good name for your perfume is useful. It won't make the fragrance "sell itself" but it can help make sales. It is worth taking time and putting some thought into a name for your perfume, even if you started your project with a name already in mind.
    Naming a new perfume successfully involves both diligent research and creative inspiration. The creative goal is to find a name that gives your fragrance a story that is told (1) by the scent itself, (2) by the name itself, and (3) by the promotional support, large or small, you give it. When name, scent, and story are in harmony, your chances of a marketing success are improved, sometimes dramatically.
Is anyone already using your name?
    You now have an issue of use. Is anyone else using your name or anything close to it? If so, your beautiful name could be a problem. Before you get too deeply committed to any particular name, search high and low for any other fragrance or fragranced product on the market that is using your name or anything close to it.
    There are two practical ways to search. First do an online search. Put your fragrance name into Google and see if you get a match in something that relates to fragrance. Search under your name plus the work "perfume." Search under your name plus the word "fragrance." Search under your name plus the word "cosmetics." With luck none of the results will reveal a conflict.
    Then go to the website of the United States Patent and Trademark Office and do a (free) TESS search. Here you are only looking for conflicts in the perfume category (classification IC 003). Sometimes you will find a mark whose registration has expired BUT just because the registration has expired doesn't mean that other party's rights to it have been lost. It might still be active in the marketplace and thus conflict with your name.
    Don't be discouraged if your first name runs into a conflict. Try again. In many cases you'll find that you were the first to associate the name with a fragrance.

Trademark rights
    Once you begin to market your fragrance under a name that nobody else has staked a claim to, you establish rights to that name, whether you register it with the trademark office or not. Your right is achieved by using your unique "mark" in "trade" (hence, "trademark"). Dreaming up a good name can't confer this right. You must produce your fragrance and put it on the market. This doesn't mean you must obtain mega sales before you gain trademark rights to your name but it does mean you must have a product and you must be offering it for sale to people "out there."
    One warning about naming a perfume. Increasingly we live in an online world. You, your business, and your perfume want to be found. The implications for your perfume's name are that it must be memorable enough and spellable enough so that seekers can enter it in searches -- and yet it must not be so common that online searches pull up hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands of incorrect links with your link, if it exists at all, many, many pages down.

     As always, I read all feedback and welcome your suggestions, corrections, and input.
     -- Phil

Monday, November 20, 2017

Packaging your perfume when you have no money -- ebook

    I've already written a bit about packaging your perfume when you have no money for packaging. I've put some of what I've already written into a small ebook that I'm selling at my website. I've added a few details that weren't in the original article along with some real world examples -- with photos -- of what I've seen done.

    The purpose of all this is to help someone -- perhaps yourself -- turn a hobby interest into a professional and commercial product. Packaging is one important step along the way.

    We are exposed to hundreds of smells daily. Walk by a perfume counter and you may be exposed to half a dozen or more fragrances. Likewise in certain public places you'll smell perfume in the air although you may not be able to determine who is wearing it.

    But do any of these smells make an emotional connection with you? When you smell a perfume you like in the air, will you go from person to person asking, "Are you the one whose perfume I'm smelling?" ... "I like it and want to know what it's called."

    It is far more likely that any emotional connection you make with a perfume will come from an emotional connection you have with the source of the fragrance -- the personality or company in whose name it is being marketed. The secondary likely factor in making that emotional connection is the "look" of the fragrance -- how it is presented in its packaging.

    You with your new perfume may not yet have a personality or brand with emotional pull so you'll need to focus on your packaging.

    If you've raised the funds to produce 10,000 bottles of your new perfume, you have, no doubt, budgeted some of your money for a box and nice graphics so that your fragrance will have a good professional, commercial look.

    If you're producing only 25, 50, or maybe 100 bottles of your new perfume, it's unlikely that you'll have money to spend for a custom-fitted, professional looking box.

    If you want to dress up your fragrance to give it a bit of push when you put it up for sale, you'll have to find another way to dress it up and that is what this small ebook is about. It's called "Packaging your perfume when you're selling to stores and you have no money for packaging" and this is a shameless pitch. But I would welcome your feedback on what information would be helpful to you when you're trying to launch your business by launching a new perfume.


-- Phil


Friday, October 13, 2017

Packaging tips for small time perfume creators with no money

    The packaging you give your perfume is important but packaging can be expensive. It can be particularly expensive if you are producing a perfume you want to market but only dare (or can afford!) to produce a handful of bottles -- a short run... or even a very short run.

    The glorious packaging you see on display at perfume counters was expensive to develop and, in most cases, expensive to produce. It is affordable only because the global companies behind these fragrances can spread their costs over hundreds of thousands of bottles and because they know that what they spend on packaging will be returned to them through greater sales.

    If your production runs are more in the range of 500 to 1,000 bottles or even less, the cost of fancy or even just typically beautiful packaging will crush you. At most you might afford a simple, printed, custom die-cut box. Then, to be effective, the artwork -- the graphics -- for this box must be excellent; well designed, well executed, well suited for your potential market. The problem will still be that if your need is for only 500 to 1,000 or even fewer boxes, your unit cost -- your cost per individual box -- will be high, perhaps even higher than the cost of your bottle or your perfume itself.

    I know of no single alternative to get around this seeming obstacle. The first step however is to recognize that you cannot match the packaging you see on global brands. And, if you try to mimic them with your pathetically anemic budget, your results are likely to be ugly.

    Some "small timer" perfumers do solve the packaging problem effectively. Their solutions are innovative, original, and cheap. They find ways to bring touches of class to their perfumes by demonstrating their artistic sense and sensitivity goes far beyond the creation of the fragrance itself.
    While I cannot suggest what might work for you, I can suggest a method for finding effective solutions. The method has four points
    1. Know what packaging products and supplies are available to you. Knowing what products are available to you -- and there are many that you can afford -- will give you ideas. Pour through craft supply catalogs (here's a list of some!) for ideas that can help you decorate your bottles or bag them artfully with stock packaging.

    2. Know what others with little or no money are doing and have done. Search online for small perfume creators and study how they package their fragrances. Go to craft fairs. Go to trade shows. Spend time in boutiques looking at everything. Ideas can jump out at you when you least expect it.

    3. Know your limitations. Don't overstep and make a mess of your perfume. Avoid at all costs making a sloppy presentation. Avoid trying to get too fancy when you don't have the artistic skill to carry it off. If you don't have the decorator's touch, perhaps you can find a friend who does and who is willing to work with you.

    4. Read trade and other publications (here's a list), both online and in print. Trade magazines show you what the leaders in the field are doing. While you might not be able (for a long time!) to afford what they are doing, you can pick up a sense of style and even get usable inspiration.

    Overall, when you don't have money you can still win excellent sales if you have taste, creativity, and the ability to discover and use resources and materials others haven't yet exploited -- because they haven't yet seen your perfume presentation solution!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Why making perfume without a formula could cost you thousands

    When I messed up a small production job -- because I was making a video at the same time I was producing it -- it drove home to me the importance of a formula and the need to adhere to it strictly when you're producing your perfume, whether the batch is small or large.
    Without a formula you can't repeat what you've done. Without a formula you can't match the original scent you created.
    Writing out a proper formula when creating a fragrance distinguishes the professional from the hobbiest. The hobbiest mixes a little this with a little that and calls it a perfume. Nice. But if it's good, that "good" perfume is limited in quantity to the original batch that was made (usually quite small!) because the hobbiest doesn't keep a record of what he or she has done. So more of the same cannot be produced.
    The professional keeps a record of every trial, every test, ever small adjustment. Maybe one out of twenty or even one out of one hundred of these records will survive and become a "go to market" perfume. For the hobbiest this record keeping seems too tedious. For the professional, record keeping is just a natural part of the work flow.
    Why should record keeping -- writing out an accurate formula of every variation of every fragrance you work on -- be such a burden? One issue that may never have occurred to you is equipment -- having enough mixing pots and whatever to dedicate a clean container for each new attempt to develop or modify a perfume. Each time you start an even slightly different variant of the perfume you're working on you need to start with a new, clean, mixing container.
    When you start work on a new fragrance you may have to equip yourself with dozens of small mixing pots.
    A second impediment for the hobbiest is an inadequate supply of the aroma materials being used. Say you are mixing a perfume and you've gotten to the point where your formula calls for twenty drops (from a dropper bottle) of a rose scent mixed with two drops of an herbal scent. If you want to try another version with three drops of the herbal, or four, or five, each time you make up a new trial you're using twenty drops of the rose scent.
    To test the effect of a small change in the herbal, you could be using quite a lot of the rose and, frustrating to the hobbiest, you already know (or think you know!) how much of the rose you need.
    So the hobbiest just adds a bit more herbal to the rose in the original measuring cup. It may make the fragrance better, it may make it worse, but now there is no way of comparing the two concepts because all has been entrusted to a single pot.
    The starting point for the hobbiest who wants to turn his or her creations into marketable products is the discipline of keeping precise notes, precise formulas of every step in the development, ever change of ingredients, however small. In a sense, the formula is the final goal for the professional perfume creator.
     A few more notes on this can be found here.
    The illustrative video of "the right way" is found here ... and the "wrong" way here.