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Business Plan Footnotes
Developing A Hook
Guaranteed To Sell Your Perfume
Part I

"Successful sales of your perfume will depend neither on the scent nor the packaging. To succeed you must have a very strong hook."

Before reading this article you will benefit from reading the first article in this series and my blog article on the subject.

If you want to sell your own perfume successfully, developing a very strong 'hook' is essential. Regardless of what I write, few perfume developers will take seriously how important this is. Even fewer will spend serious time working to develop their own hook. Most will settle for a hook that is too weak to do the job.

If you can develop the right hook, your perfume business has the potential to be very profitable.

I can't tell you how to find your hook. There is no magic template. But I can give you examples of hooks that have worked for others. And I can suggest strategies you can use to seek out your own powerful hook.

As you contemplate your business plan for perfume and the hook you might find to sell it, keep in mind that the Christmas season is the big sales time for perfume. And something like 40 percent of all perfumes sales are for gifts.

From time to time I come across strategies that could be developed into useful hooks for marketing perfume. I share these with members of our Perfume Makers & Marketers Club through my monthly Club Newsletter. To get some idea of how often I write about strategy, use the Bio-Byte Search with the keyword "strategy." --

Bio-Byte Search

The pages labeled "PMC" are from the Club's Newsletter Archive, available free to Club Members. The pages labeled "mPMC" are the corresponding articles on our mobile site.

Here now are examples of strong hooks -- hooks that have worked for others.

Strong Hooks -- Examples

Justin Bieber, "Someday"

Before developing Someday, the Justin Bieber team had sold several other Justin-branded products quite successfully.

For Someday they put together a project team of some of the most successful and experienced people in the fragrance marketing business.

Rather than release Someday through Elizabeth Arden (which is where most of the team had come from) they formed an entity called Give Back Brands and announced that profits that would typically go to stockholders would go to charities.

Pricing was set for the younger market instead of the typical prestige fragrance price points.

Then, when the scent was ready for release, Justin announced that the scent of Someday was the scent he wanted a girl to smell like.

Sales went through the roof.

Calvin Klein, "Obsession"

Calvin Klein launched his clothing business with a $10,000 loan from childhood friend Barry Schwartz who became Klein's business partner. The enterprise flourished.

In 1978 Klein and Schwartz launched a fragrance and cosmetics line. It lost money and, by 1980, was about to close when it was purchased by Robert Taylor's Minnetonka company for $1 million.

Taylor, a former Johnson & Johnson salesman, had started Minnetonka in his garage, making and selling soap balls. It proved to be a good business.

Graduating from Syracuse, Robin Burns secured a job at Bloomingdale's and spent five years in housewares before she was given the role of men's fragrance buyer.

In 1983 Taylor hired Burns to became president of Calvin Klein Cosmetics. At the time it had "two handfuls of employees" and was losing $2 million annually.

Unlikely as it might seem, Taylor and Burns put together one of the hottest advertising campaigns of the decade launching Calvin Klein's Obsession in 1985. Business website Funding Universe notes "one [Bruce] Weber print ad featured two nude men entwined around one female; another a naked couple with their groins pressed together." Sales of Obsession and Obsession for Men broke the $100 million mark in just two years. For Calvin Klein Cosmetics, this was the beginning of a long, successful series of profitable new fragrances.

W.J. Bush & Co., "Bint El Sudan"

Eric Burgess

Eric Burgess

Bint El Sudan

Bint El Sudan

In 1919 Eric Burgess, a commission salesman for W.J. Bush & Co., was stationed in Khartoum, Sudan. One day, so the story goes, a band of men "looking like brigands from Omdurman" crowded into his office, squatted on the floor and made tea, then presented him with vials of various aromatic materials with the request that they be made into a perfume.

The vials were sent to England where it was discovered the perfume they might make would be too expensive to sell profitably. Adjustments were made and costs were brought down. Introduced to the world in 1920, Bint El Sudan became a phenomenon. Packaging and distribution strategy played a large role in its success.

Distribution of luxury products in rural Africa was, at that time, largely through established traders. But Bint El Sudan was packaged in vials about the diameter of a lipstick and just slightly longer. This reduced their cost, as the contents of each bottle was small, and it reduced their volume and weight thus allowing them to be carried and sold by market ladies who could go with their goods daily among the people and sell Bint El Sudan in a very personal way, giving it promotion that this small product would not have received from the large traders.

During the 1970s the claim was made that Bint El Sudan had sold more units than any perfume, ever. It was frequently counterfeited and, in some parts of the world, is still in great demand.


Someday was a huge success thanks to the tight relationship between the celebrity and the perfume marketers. They were his own team and had his fullest cooperation. This is rare, even among successful celebrity fragrance launches. More typically celebrity and perfume marketer are separate entities, each with their own agenda and thus the celebrity is somewhat less than fully committed to "their" perfume.

Another example of a tight connection between celebrity and fragrance was the Elizabeth Taylor line in which Elizabeth Taylor took a strong personal interest. It is said that collectively her fragrances did over $1 billion in sales and that she earned more from her perfume than she ever earned from Hollywood.

Obsession was success in spite of a celebrity and the marketer very much at odds with each other. Shortly after purchasing the Calvin Klein perfume business, Taylor sued Calvin Klein, not a good way to win your celebrity's cooperation.

But then Taylor hired a professional to put the promotion together, let her do it her way, in spite of what must have seemed to him a shockingly high cost. Burns ultimately won the support of Calvin Klein whose creative input then helped make the promotion a huge success.

But a good deal more than professionalism was responsible for Obsession's success. The image that was created for the fragrance (see the description above!) was in tune with the cutting edge of the times. Many found the ads highly offensive but the people who already were in tune with Calvin Klein's philosophies found the ads amazing and, through a harmless bottle of perfume, were eager to participate in the fantasy.

Bint El Sudan was a success because (1) the fragrance matched the market, indeed it had been inspired by local tastes, (2) the bottle was small and affordable and could be packed easily and carried easily allowing widespread distribution, and (3) distribution of Bint El Sudan through market ladies rather than trading posts got it down to the people, much the way Avon once sold so successfully to rural women and Natura, in Brazil, does today.

In short, each of these fragrances had a strong hook that resulted in strong sales.

Strong hooks with unknown conclusions

The stories cited above can be told with confidence because they are well documented. More often when I come across what appears to be me to be a great hook, I have no way of confirming that the promotion was successful. However, here are a few strategies with strong hooks that are worth studying. Please read more on the next page.

Other articles in this series:
#1 How To Write Your Most Important Business Plan Ever
#2 Funding Your New Perfume
#4 Developing A Hook Guaranteed To Sell Your Perfume, Part II

Making Perfume By The Quart
Making Perfume By The Quart: A do-it-yourself project book

Many who love perfume dream of having their own -- but it can seem too complicated, too "from another world." Making Perfume By The Quart brings it down to earth for you in ten remarkably easy to understand chapters of instructions that guide you through the complete production process, from concept to finished perfume. But you make just one quart.

Creating Your Own Perfume With A 1700 Percent Markup! (3rd edition)

Perfume is famous for the markup it can achieve, even for a middle market fragrance. While "everybody knows" that perfume costs next to nothing to make (not completely true) the making of it is often considered an esoteric secret. "Creating Your Own Perfume With A 1700 Percent Markup!" details how a 3-person company with no experience created their own fragrance in response to a marketing opportunity that was too good to pass up. The book explains exactly what was done to create a fragrance for that opportunity but it is far more than a history of the author's project. "Creating Your Own Perfume With A 1700 Percent Markup!" lays out every step in the process of creating your own perfume, either as a do-it-yourself project – and without the benefit of automated equipment some compromises and workarounds are required – or full bore professional production under your supervision. Either way you will be producing a quality fragrance at a remarkably low cost. Do you have a marketing opportunity that would be wildly profitable if only you could obtain your fragrance at a ridiculously low cost? "Creating Your Own Perfume With A 1700 Percent Markup!" is the guide you need to do it.

Naming Your Perfume And Protecting Your Name

A really great name, a special name that is just right for a particular perfume or perfume marketer (or entrepreneur with money to invest!) can be worth a ton of money. But few individuals with great ideas ever manage to cash in on those brilliant ideas. Instead they wait while others "discover" their idea, acquire legal rights to it and make all the money while they are left out in the cold without a penny having been earned for what was once THEIR idea.

If you are struggling to name your perfume and are looking for a name that will have real value, "Naming Your Perfume And Protecting Your Name" will help you weed out low value names and point you to names that have better marketing value plus the potential to become valuable assets in themselves.

If you have a great name you want to protect but no fragrance, "Naming Your Perfume And Protecting Your Name" will guide you through the simple steps you must take to acquire a legal right to that name before someone else grabs it! Best of all, "Naming Your Perfume And Protecting Your Name" shows you how to gain strong legal protection for your name without a lawyer and without spending more than pocket change.

Never had an idea for a product name? Never thought much about perfume? "Naming Your Perfume And Protecting Your Name" may stimulate your interest in a whole new game that, when played well, can make you lots of money without your having to leave the comfort of your home office.

How To Launch Your Own Perfume Company: A Simple Business Plan

You can build a perfume business of your own using this business plan as a guide. By following its detailed strategy you learn to identify motivated groups of potential perfume buyers. Members of these groups are near the tipping point of desire for a new perfume. You don't know these people and they don't know you but you know a marketer they trust, one who does not currently sell perfume and might never think of selling perfume were it not for your approach. Here is where you step in with a professional plan, promotion, and perfume to take advantage of this ripe opportunity for mutual profit. Before your first promotion has peaked, you will already be developing a relationship with your next marketing partner. Following this plan, you will gain more and more profit with each new marketing partnership.

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

Now when you make your own perfume you can make it fully "commercial" meaning you will be creating a product ready for regular, continuous sales to friends, relatives, and the public! If the fragrance you've made has already won praise, why not share it with others? Some might pay you for it and want it for their web stores or retail boutiques! Creating your own perfume from dropper bottles: Methods, mechanics, and mathematics guides you through steps that can turn your hobby project into a perfume business. Discover how close you are now and how little more you must do to take what you made with essential oils and dropper bottles into a business of your own! For an introduction to this book, watch this video.

How To Create A More Valuable Name For Your Perfume

When you name a perfume you create a valuable asset – the name itself. To sell your perfume you want the most effective name possible. But a good name can have value beyond the edge it gives your sales. In naming your fragrance you are creating a trademark and a trademark can have value independent of the product. The value of that trademark can vary. Much depends on how well, in naming your perfume, you follow the trademark "rules." How To Create A More Valuable Name For Your Perfume first helps you develop a name that will be effective in selling your perfume. It then prods you to make use of certain techniques that can turn a good name into a great trademark, strong and valuable. If you have questions about how to protect a name, How To Create A More Valuable Name For Your Perfume will answer many such as:

  • Can you protect your name yourself or do you need a lawyer?
  • Can you register a trademark without a lawyer?
  • What does it cost to register a trademark?
  • How do I enforce the rights I have established?

How To Create A More Valuable Name For Your Perfume covers both state, federal, and international protection.

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Philip Goutell
Lightyears, Inc.