How To Think About
Selling Your Own Perfume

The most important point to think of when you think
about selling your own perfume is ... "How am I going to sell it?"

  • You can't sell a perfume simply on its quality.
  • You can't sell a perfume simply on its originality.
  • You can't sell a perfume simply because you love it.

You can only sell a perfume if you have customers who will buy it.

Launching a quest for potential buyers before you invest in a perfume is a sign you are thinking like a professional or a seasoned entrepreneur.

What you must look for is clusters of buyers who can be reached, conveniently, by media you can afford. These clusters may be arranged geographically, in which case you'll look for some soft of local media to reach them, or they may be located globally in which case, although you may be able to define them by demographics, it may not be so convenient to reach them with your marketing communications unless the bulk of them follow certain websites to which you have access.

Local clusters may be defined by some common local interest, such as supporting a fundraiser event or a tourist's desire for a fragrance reminder of a pleasant vacation spot.

Global clusters can be fans of a celebrity who, though widely scattered geographically, cluster around their interest in a single performer. Reaching this soft of market generally requires the resources of a larger company. An example would be Avon's Jon Bon Jovi fragrance, Unplugged, which can can be promoted and distributed by Avon's many thousands of sales representatives.

If you can't identify a cluster of buyers who will have a special interest in your fragrance — and a good potential to become your customers — it is wise to cool it a bit on developing your fragrance and put more effort into establishing a market.

You can ONLY succeed with a fragrance if you sell it into as market that is interested in buying it. If you try to sell your perfume to people who are indifferent, it will fail.

If you find yourself getting stuck trying to find a useful cluster of people to sell to, you can find some help here.

Once you have identified a cluster of people who are good candidates for your fragrance, you can start to think about the next important detail — determining the size of your market. This number is vital to your planning.

Market Size

Marketing professionals examine market size before embarking on a project. If I have 5,000 faithful customers for my business and I estimate that 20 percent of them (1,000 customers) are likely to buy my new perfume, then my market size — my prime market — is 1,000 individuals. My planning from this point forward will be directed at developing a fragrance I can sell profitably to these 1,000 potential buyers.

Sometimes we find that the size of the market is too small for the project we have envisioned. If, for example, I want to create an original fragrance, develop an original bottle to hold it, and surround my bottle with elaborate packaging, a market of only 1,000 customers would be far too small to support such a project.

The cost to me of each bottle I produced might run around $250 to $300. To make a profit (after marketing expenses), I would have to sell each bottle for around $750 to $1,000. Unless I was doing a fund raiser for oil sheiks (and, personally, I don't know any!) my project would be hopeless.

But two alternatives could make my project successful. One the one hand with my market of 1,000 potential buyers, I could re-think my product. I could use a existing perfume compound, stock, off-the-shelf bottles, a simple label and, perhaps, no box at all. By doing this I might drive my cost per bottle down to around $1.50 to $3.50 per bottle. Now, if I can sell a bottle of perfume to each of those 1,000 prospects at, say, $25 to $35 per bottle, and, say, my marketing expense is small, I stand to make a nice profit.

The other approach would be to expand the size of the market. If I want to do my fancy perfume in elaborate packaging, I might have to find 100,000 to 250,000 or more customers for my perfume. To accomplish this, generally you will need good marketing skills.

Then the questions must be asked, if these additional prospects can be found, can you reach them with your sales message? Do you have enough money to finance this promotion? Do you have the knowledge and experience you will need to pull this project together? Are you in a position to take the financial risk?

These are questions you must answer truthfully.

Making Sales

We've already touched on who you are going to sell to. Now you've got to ask yourself how are you going to make these sales? How do you plan to sell your perfume?

You must be able to reach your prospects with your sales presentation and convert them into buyers without spending more than you have budgeted for marketing.

For some ideas, read How To Market Your Own Perfume or join our Perfume Makers & Marketers Club in order to receive our marketing heavy Club Newsletter.

Having the money you need

Before you launch your project, give serious thought to your cash requirements. First, you'll need cash to produce your fragrance. Then, in most cases, you'll need at least some cash to sell it. Your financing should be in place before you start to develop your fragrance. Why? Because, if you don't have enough money to complete the program, you'll end up with lots of unsold bottles of perfume or, even worse, unfinished materials — fragrance in a barrel rather than in bottles ... empty bottles and no way to fill them ... bottles without labels or labels without bottles. In short, you'll have a "situation" on your hands and whatever money you have already invested in your project will probably be lost.

Bottle, Fragrance, Fragrance Name

Sadly, unless you are planning to bottle a large number of bottles, you will be limited in the sizes and styles of bottles that will be available to you. You will be further limited by the styles of caps and spray pumps available for your bottles.

For your fragrance and name, consider your customers. What do they want? What fragrance — and name — will resonate with them? Spend some time thinking about this, all the while remembering that your bottle and packaging may not be as elegant as what you first desired.


Before you embark on a perfume project, be sure that you will have buyers for your perfume, that you can afford to reach them with your sales message, that each individual sale will be profitable, and that you have enough cash on hand to see your project through, from start to finish.

Good luck with it!

Photo of Phil Goutell
Philip Goutell's Signature

Philip Goutell
Lightyears, Inc.

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