The new perfume: thoughts and preparations for a small, limited launch

I've been documenting the sometimes boring details of developing a new perfume, how starting with aroma materials in dropper bottles, the drops are weighed out into grams, grams are converted into percents and those percents give me my production formula. I've made a small production batch from this formula and if you want to see what I've done, go to this web page. I won't bore you here.

Now that I've produced the finished fragrance I'll wait a month before I bottle it. But while the fragrance is aging – blending the components into a harmonious whole – I'll be busy with other activities this launch will require.

I've started writing an ad for my new perfume. I've got the main picture already and I want to superimpose a bottle of my new perfume on that picture. But before I can do that I have to select a bottle and "produce" that bottle with fragrance and label. Sometimes I'll dummy up a bottle for photography if the fragrance isn't ready yet. In this case I won't do that because I want the color of the fragrance to be right, not just something I've imagined. So I'll hold off on the bottle photo until my fragrance is fully blended and shows its true color.

I've mentioned before that my market is the people who visit my online shop, PGLightyears.com. That is a small market, too small to expect much in the way of sales and profits. As to why I'm not planning a more aggressive launch, let's talk a bit.

An aggressive launch – which you would want – requires both a sales push and logistical backup. Your sales push would involve setting up distribution. This could involve getting retail stores to carry your fragrance and then working your tail off to send them buyers. Distribution alone won't work. And it is the marketer's – not the retailer's – job to generate desire for the fragrance and sales. The retailer just offers an opportunity for people to obtain your fragrance. They aren't going to sell it for you. All this involves phone calls, travel, personal meetings, networking and anything else that you can think of to make it happen.

How about online? Other people's websites and social media? It's the same problem but even more complicated. You have to entice the site owners to offer your perfume and then send them good traffic. What about the shipping? That will come back to you. You can't expect social media people to stock and ship your fragrance. If they take orders those orders will go to you for fulfillment and, based on my experience, there can be delays in forwarding those orders to you (after all, they already have payment in full and may not be so eager to pass on your share to you) so, by the time you get these orders, your customers may be a bit grumpy and less favorably inclined toward your fragrance than they were initially.

Working with other websites and social media people, you also have the problem of refunds. If you have to refund an order for any reason, will you be able to claw back the refund amount from the person who took the order and pocketed their profit?

Logistics is a big pain. When I had a warehouse with a crew to process and ship orders, the more orders we got, the happier I was. (At the time, these were not orders for perfume.) But as I scaled back my involvement, shipping became a chore for a reduced staff. For a while it worked but supervising people takes a lot of focus. Now I don't want the headaches of managing a staff while developing fragrances and writing about them. But what about you?

If you are going to sell perfume you have to be prepared to ship it yourself or arrange with some service to ship it for you. And "shipping" isn't just shipping. It's also customer service, and a plan to take care of lost orders or returns or just dissatisfied customers. Even when your operation is running smoothly this can be a far more expensive and time consuming than you might imagine, even when almost all of your customers are honest and generally pleased with what they get from you.

I hope this helps explain why I am not aggressively pushing sales of my fragrances. I want to create but I don't want the responsibilities of building an organization again. But YOU have to push if you want to sell your fragrance. It won't sell itself. So you have to do all those things that I once did. Ultimately you'll find it's a rewarding experience, even if, at times, it can be stressful.

For supplies used in the development of this fragrance, visit the Vendors section of this website.

Now available: "Creating your own perfume from dropper bottles: Methods, mechanics, and mathematics"

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Photo of Phil Goutell
Philip Goutell's Signature

Philip Goutell
Lightyears, Inc.