Monday, July 16, 2018

Finding the right bottle for a men's cologne


    I can claim more success with and perhaps more interest in men's fragrances that those I've done for women. And I can claim more success at achieving lower production costs for my men's fragrances against those I've done for women. The reason for these lower costs is the bottle. (See examples here.)

    For a man's fragrance you don't need a spray and a fine mist spray pump, purchased in only hundreds or thousands rather than tens of thousands, can represent a large chunk of the product's total cost. Using a screw-on cap rather than a spray represents a huge cost saving. So, for this article, I'll rule out any use of a spray. Perhaps we can deal with that another day.

    Because our interest is in bottles that can be sealed with a screw-on cap, we will only be discussing bottles with a "continuous thread" neck -- bottles with threaded necks that allow the use of a screw-on "closure," in this case a screw-on cap. Caps are generally made of plastic and can be ribbed or smooth. Ribbed caps have vertical grooves and provide a better grip.

Overall considerations

    Selecting a bottle for a men's fragrance involves finding a glass bottle you like that has the capacity you want and can be purchased at a good price in the quantity you need.

    Your decision on capacity is important. The more than goes into the bottle, the more it will cost to fill it. Filling a 2-ounce bottle will be twice as expensive as filling a 1-ounce bottle. While this is obvious to any accountant, a creative mind can sometimes get carried away by the particular shape -- the "look" -- of a bottle and fail to notice that, due to its size, filling it will blow the budget.

Neck configuration ("finish")

    While all bottles under discussion take a screw-on cap, in addition to capacity, two issues must be addressed: finding caps that are an exact fit for the neck and the opening in the neck.

    The cap issue involves what is called "finish," the configuration of the neck of the bottle. That configuration is defined both by the diameter of the neck, the height of the neck, and by the arrangement of the threads in the neck. To fit properly, the cap size must be an exact match with the neck size, both in diameter, neck height, and thread configuration. You will see the neck of a "continuous thread" bottle described by such designations as "15/425," "18/425," "20/410," etc.  Caps for these bottles will be described using the same system.

    In selecting your bottle it is important to be sure you will be able to purchase the needed supply of screw-on caps in a matching size. When you need a relatively small quantity of caps, a few hundred or perhaps a thousand or so, it is not always easy to find the caps you want in the size you need.

    If you are buying a significant number of bottles and caps it is wise to get samples, before you make your purchase, and test to be sure the caps screw onto the bottles easily and, when filled, the bottles do not leak.

Sprinkler neck bottles

    There is yet one more complication that must be addressed: the opening in the bottle's neck. Bottles with a special constricted opening are referred to as "sprinkler neck" because the constricted neck prevents the fragrance from pouring out and, instead, allows it to be splashed or sprinkled. Without this constriction in the neck the user would get a waterfall of fragrance instead of just a dash.

    In my book, Creating Your Own Fragrance With A 1700 Percent Markup!, I describe a successful project with a men's cologne and, for that project, we used a 1-ounce sprinkler neck bottle. Thanks to shopping for that bottle I became very familiar with sprinkler neck bottles and now, when shopping for a bottle for a men's cologne, my first question is, "does it have a sprinkler neck?" If so, assembly becomes very simple as the only components are the bottle and the cap.   

Orifice reducer plugs

    But suppose you have your heart set on a bottle that does not have a sprinkler neck? Unless you can cut down the flow that is dispensed, you can't use it. When your customer opens it up it would pour fragrance and clearly this is unacceptable.

    But there is a solution -- the orifice reducing plug. This is a plastic plug with a small opening that is inserted into the neck of the bottle. Not only can it give your bottle sprinkler neck utility, since these plugs are available with different size openings, you can select the amount of fragrance you want released when your customer splashes or sprinkles your cologne.

    The downside of the orifice reducing plug is that it must be pressed into the bottle's neck and this takes a bit of force. You might not want to fit a large number of this plugs by hand.

    When using an orifice reducing plug, and I do use them with one particular bottle I acquired in a large quantity at a very good price from a surplus bottle distributor, I use a jig I built that is a bit like the corker used by wine makers to insert a cork into the neck of a bottle. You line up the plug with the bottle, pull the lever, and the plug is squeezed into the neck.

    Orifice reducing plugs are a practical solution to retro fit an open neck bottle to mimic the action of a sprinkler neck bottle but, if you are doing the bottling yourself, by hand, and you have more than a few hundred bottles to seal, the sprinkler neck bottle is by far the more efficient solution.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Four ways to create your own perfume


    Let me ask you this: "Why would you want to create your own perfume?" Are you motivated by art, commerce, or vanity? Your reason for wanting to create a perfume plays a leading role in how you create your perfume. There are four ways you can create your perfume oil, the scent itself, the fragrance that people smell. Two of these ways require substantial investment; two require only pocket change. When you are ready to go ahead and create your own perfume starting with the perfume oil -- the scent itself -- you'll find a complete guide for transforming it into a commercial product in Creating Your Own Perfume With A 1700 Percent Markup!

Method I: Buy a stock fragrance and impress your brand on it.

    A significant number of online vendors sell "fragrance oil" to anyone willing to pay for it. The names of many of these perfume oils suggest they are smell-likes of best selling perfumes. Spend time at local fragrance counters. Sample as many fragrances as you can for free. Purchase a few that you like best. Decide, within the limits of online fragrance oils available to you, on one that might work for you.
   
    Once you have obtained your supply, and assuming your plan is not to simply market a knockoff, impress your own brand on it. Name it with a name that bears no relation to the name of the famous scent that inspired it. Now it is no longer an imitation of a famous brand. Now it becomes the name you have given it.

Pros
    Anyone can do this. You don't need industry connections. There is no mystery over what you are paying or what you are getting. You can compare prices from one website to another as it is likely that more than one will have a smell-alike for the same famous brand. Because these websites take small orders, you can start your project on a very small scale to test your ability to create and sell your own perfume.

Cons
    If your intention is to produce a significant number of bottles of perfume, say 500, 1,000 or more, obtaining oil directly off a website may prove more costly than buying directly from a fragrance house that sells to professionals. Quality could also be an issue.

Discussion
    Much here depends on the level of sophistication of your intended customers. If they are aware of the current crop of best selling fragrances, they may spot yours as a smell-alike and judge your offering both on price and quality. If your price is low and your quality acceptably, you might make sales based on your low price but, unless you can achieve a high sales volume (which is unlikely!), this will not be a great money making strategy.

    On the other hand, if your intended market are less sophisticated and you select a fragrance oil for "your" perfume they are very unlikely to recognize, your fragrance may be able to achieve a substantial markup.

Method II: Go to a professional fragrance house and ask for a fragrance with a smell like that of a major brand that has attracted you.

    This is similar to Method I, finding a smell you like in a major brand and then purchasing an oil with a similar scent. The difference is you're likely to be offered two or more versions of the scent you like, each at a different price. It will be up to you to select the one most suitable for your quality, marketing, and budgetary goals.

    Again, the fragrance will not be reserved exclusively for your but there is a good chance you won't find a competitor using the same oil. Once you have put your brand on it -- the name under which you will sell it -- it is unlikely that it will ever be thought of as anything other than what you have named it.

Pros
    In working with a professional fragrance house you'll be introduced to the possibilities that exist for a fragrance oil such as how a particular scent can be achieved using more or less costly materials. You will also be establishing a connection for future projects and you should be able to get some guidance for your project from experienced professionals, guidance you would not get by simply ordered off a website.

Cons
    To get the cooperation of a professional fragrance house you may have to demonstrate that you are an established business or a deep pocketed entrepreneur ready to deal on a professional level. And it's likely you'll encounter a minimum order requirement that should not be excessive if you're producing 1,000 bottles or more but could balk you if your plan is to test with just a few hundred bottles.

Discussion
    If you're making an investment in your perfume and are willing to take some risks, this is an ideal solution. You'll be getting your fragrance oil at a price that works for your budget and will be introduced to the price variations that can be found in trying to achieve the same smell.
   
    Since you will be asking for a scent similar to one that already exists, the vendor will almost certainly have multiple formulas available and will not have to go through the steps of building a custom -- a unique, original -- fragrance for you. Hence both a lower cost to you and a lower minimum order requirement.

Method III: Work a perfumer to create an original fragrance.

    If you want an original fragrance and you are not a skilled perfumer yourself, you'll go to a fragrance company that can offer the services of a perfumer who will work with you to create the fragrance you want.

    If you just have a general idea of what you want, the perfumer can guide. If you have a strong idea of what you want, you can guide the perfumer.

Pros
    By working with a professional perfumer and paying for a custom fragrance, an original fragrance that only you will have, you gain a strong marketing point.

Cons
    To obtain the services of a skilled perfumer you will either be required to pay for the development costs or to guarantee the purchase of a certain minimum quantity of the perfume oil thus created.

    Your idea for a unique fragrance may not yield a market success. You may have trouble communicating your idea to a perfumer, making it difficult for him or her to give you what you want. This can lead to costly trials and dead ends.

    While you may be providing the creative ideas for the fragrance, the perfumer who has translated your ideas into a practical formula, will own the formula and you will never see it. If you need more of this fragrance oil, you must come back to this same perfumer or fragrance house. This is standard industry practice although it may be possible to negotiate a different arrangement.

Discussion
    Your success in creating an original fragrance will depend on your having a clear idea of what you want and finding a perfumer able to create what you want. This is a costly approach to getting your perfume oil and you must consider whether the cost will be commensurate with your goals for the project.

Method IV: Make it yourself.

    If you feel comfortable developing a perfume oil on your own, do it!

Pros
    The fragrance oil you develop will be original and exclusively your own and you have the satisfaction of being the creator.

Cons
    To develop your own perfume oil you'll need perfumery skills and materials to work with. If your goal is to create a commercial success you must question whether your skill will be up to the challenge. Investing money in your own skill as a perfumer can be risky and few "first time" projects yield commercial success.

Discussion
    If you are a perfumer, this may be the only path for you.

    If you are an enthusiastic but less skilled, the fragrance you develop will give you an opportunity to share your idea with others and, while it may be difficult to sell what you have made, you might find great satisfaction in putting your own original fragrance "out there."

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Why developing a new perfume (should be) like writing a novel or a song


    I was explaining to my wife why, for all my interest in writing, I would never try to write a novel or even a short story because I had nothing I wanted to say and nobody I wanted to say it to. Yet I've written songs and each one held a thought or message I wanted to share with particular people. Apply this thought to fragrance creation and it will change the way you go about developing a new perfume.
   
    Getting back to those songs, some were funny; some were exuberant. Some were intended to push people to reexamining their values. The thoughts behind these songs were all over the map. So can it be with perfume.

    Marketers focus on what they believe they can sell. Their thinking is always in the past. That which has worked before is likely to work again and, in this, they are mostly correct. But the breakthrough comes not when the marketer pushes the perfumer to create a new version of a proven, successful fragrance but rather when the perfumer has a thought, an idea, a message, that demands expression ... through perfume. Let the marketing people now break a sweat trying to sell it.

    Although this new fragrance might not be what the marketing people wanted, there is a marketing story for it, the story -- the message which the perfumer struggled to convey through the scent. It is almost certain that the idea for this scent was accompanied by various mental images.

    These images can now be used to develop a marketing story and because these images will harmonize with the scent itself, the marketing story can be clear, strong, and wonderfully effective.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Starting a new perfume

    How do you start a new perfume? There are, no doubt, many ways but a very solid technique is to start with an idea of what you want. By idea I mean a theme that guides the development of the smell, creates a story, and inspires a visual marketing presentation.

    Two days ago I started work on the "smell" for a new fragrance from an idea, a theme, that had impressed itself in my memory in February.

    The idea -- the theme -- arose while I was on a train to New York City. My travels to the city on this train are infrequent. Usually I pass the 90 minute trip reading a book. But on this particular day there was a snow storm and I had been slipping around a bit on the drive to the station. Aboard the train, feeling tired, I found myself simply watching the snow and woods as we traveled along. Snow and woods. A theme. A possible fragrance? Men's? Woman's? Unisex? I'm still not sure but the snow and the woods theme stuck in my mind. Two days ago I started work on the smell.

    The woods, the snow, the season all provide a story and visual theme. Is it a theme that can sell perfume? That I don't yet know. But, when I finally sat down to put the smell together, the visual image -- woods, snow, seen from train in February -- was very clear in my mind. As I began to sketch out the smell, that image guided me.

    Thus this was not to be floral scent. This was not to be a woody scent either because there was no woody smell in my warm seat on the train. The smell that I imagined was simply snow and the look of the trees, conifers for the most part. So, as I chose my first three aroma materials, my starting point, it was my mental interpretation of the smell of this imagery that guided me; it was a fantasy smell I was seeking to create.

    The first ingredients worked and gave me a foundation on which to build the smell I wanted to create. Now the hard part has begun: taking that foundation and building on it, enhancing it, closing in on the idea.

    Here's where you take risks. You get experimental. You test various materials to see if they might bring you closer to the idea, or if they take you farther away. It is not beauty I am striving for, nor is it originality or brilliance. I am striving to make my fragrance-in-progress conform to the idea that inspired me.

    The clearer, stronger the idea fixed in your head, the greater your guidance will be in selecting aroma materials for your project. In this particular case, the idea was very strong for me, perhaps because there were some personal issued involved in that train ride. The strength of the idea made it easier to say "yes" or "no" to additional materials I tried to add and to substitutions I tried to make. My opening sketch quickly evolved into a crude version of the smell I was seeking.

    Sure, now there are the endless adjustments. "How much of this is right?" "Should I substitute this for (a similar) that?" "What should the final balance be?" "How does what I have mixed evolve from day to day as the ingredients blend with each other, enriching themselves and the ingredients they are blending with?"

    Now is a time for patience and persistence, for fine tuning so that no single ingredient is conspicuous but rather one smell alone stands out -- the smell that represents my idea.

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.