Why Are Perfumes So Expensive?

Last updated on : April 27 2022

Beautiful young woman with bottle of perfume indoors

Article Summary

Many people argue that a good perfume is an investment you will use for years even when you choose to have only one. But that doesn't justify the cost, so there must be more to the story.

In this article, find out the real reasons why many of your favorite scents cost so much. And whether there is justification or not.

The Cost of the Perfume

Cost of ingredients

Perfume Packaging

Limited Edition


Celebrity Fragrances

Other Factors

How Can You Make Perfume Last Longer?

The Cost of the Perfume

For those who love to smell good, there is a chance that you have a wide collection of perfumes. It is always a good idea to have a variety in case of change of mood or even occasion.

However, many of these tiny bottles of liquid cost so much that sometimes you wonder why you buy them. Even for those that find good bargains, it is more often costlier than many of your outfits.

Many people argue that a good perfume is an investment you will use for years even when you choose to have only one. But that doesn't justify the cost, so there must be more to the story.

In this article, find out the real reasons why many of your favorite scents cost so much. And whether there is justification or not.

Cost of ingredients

Many costly perfumes get their components directly from flowers, herbs, or trees. The extraction process of the aromatics and how many plants are required to get one unit is the most significant contributor to cost.

For example, it takes almost a quarter-million jasmine flowers to produce a single ounce of the essential oil needed for perfumes. Some of the flowers are seasonal, so they can only be picked and processed at certain times of the year; hence they are rare.

For example, the Bulgarian rose is only available in a particular part of Bulgaria and is available only in May. In such a case, you will expect that any perfume which uses this aromatic will be costly. 

As a result, many producers don't use actual fragrance oils due to their scarcity. Many use substitute ingredients, which are more readily available but still costly. 

However, none of this fully justifies the price. Many perfume designers admit that the cost of aromatics, whether real or substitute, accounts for less than 10% of the perfume price.

This low percentage is because there are substantial other costs involved.

Perfume Packaging

Everybody loves beautiful packaging on whatever product they are buying. Some people have even admitted to only purchasing certain products due to how they would look on their dresser.

These factors are why designers pay a lot of attention to the look of their product. If you think about it, many of the cheaper perfumes don't have a striking outlook.

Many high-end fragrances will go the extra mile to use unique stones or even metals for their bottles. Some companies use real gold, silver, and even diamonds to create their packages, and they pass this cost onto us, the consumer.

Additionally, manufacturers consider aspects such as protection from UV rays, light, or even elements such as heat and cold.

All of these factors contribute to the packaging chosen, and creating the perfect one can be quite costly.

So the next time you are buying a stunning bottle of perfume or cologne, remember that its packaging contributes to the price tag.

Limited Edition

Exclusivity is something that matters to many people when they choose what to buy. Many people want uniqueness in their purchases, items that not most people don't have because it elevates their status or makes them feel good.

As a result, manufacturers in almost every single sector make it a point to target this particular market.

Perfume designers often release one or two exclusive scents with limited production to capture this market. Usually, these products come with a considerable price tag, but customers will still buy them because of the status it gives.

The exclusivity need in the perfume market has given birth to niche scents. These are designer scents created for you and your unique aspects. Think of these as the perfect personal fragrance. While there is no telling whether these colognes are high quality, the fact is it is unlikely you will find anyone else with the same scent, and this warrants the high price.


Many of the most expensive perfumes you buy are by high-end designers and exclusive brands. These companies have substantial marketing budgets to capture their target audience.

As you can imagine, selling prices must give adequate returns to compensate for this and yield a profit.

Perfume designers use so much money in launching and marketing their fragrances through commercials, samples, and continental campaigns. These launches often cost millions of dollars and contribute significantly to the price we pay.

An article by A.T. Kearney reported that perfume designers use almost a billion dollars in marketing. It also showed that some of the costlier campaigns had the highest returns and the more expensive fragrances.

However, many people are more likely to buy a scent due to excellent reviews rather than marketing campaigns.

Celebrity Fragrances

Other than your favorite designers for perfumes, some designers create their lines through collaboration with celebrities. Many of these celebrity-endorsed fragrances will cost more than regular designer presumes.

Celebrity endorsed scents were quite popular at the beginning of the 2000s before they became saturated in the market. In the earlier days, celebrities would make deals with designers pr perfume makers, and the market was estimated to be worth more than $300 million by 2007.

Other than having to pay the celebrity for the use of their name on a fragrance, designers and creators incur more costs in advertising these products than they would if it were a new regular collection.

Celebrities also take advantage of the fact that many fans of celebrity fragrances don't buy them for the quality of the perfume but rather the name. Therefore, marketing teams work to maximize these facts. Several articles on the perfume industry have stated that these perfumes may not be worth the price.

Many of the fragrances endorsed by celebrities tend to be a crowd-pleaser, so it may not be the best quality in terms of how long it lasts.

Also, manufacturers often tailor the fragrances to what the fans may like most, through market research, and all these costs add to the final price tag.

Other Factors

What other factors make your favorite perfumes so expensive?

  • Perfume designers. Most of the designers that you see on the bottle of your favorite perfumes are not the actual creators. Many of them source their fragrance from creator companies who work with most of the marketers of the product. More exclusive names such as International Flavor Fragrance and Givaudan are known to supply almost 50% of your favorite designers.
  • If you like fragrances from celebrities, then you will know that many of them are quite pricey. A considerable part of this is because licensing for perfume production and sale is higher when it is by a celebrity than if you designed your own. There are upfront costs as well as up to 10% of the sales proceeds paid to the star.
  • If you have been buying perfumes for a while, you will realize that different stores will have a different price for the same product. Buying directly from the seller is not always an option as stocks may run out fast, and you have to find a different store. Retailers will often increase the price to cover costs, and this may increase the actual amount up to 50%.

Why Are Perfumes So Expensive?, infographics

How Can You Make Perfume Last Longer?

Now since you don't want to be spending hundreds of dollars every couple of months, you should learn how to make your perfume last longer. If you have a high-quality fragrance, this is easy to achieve using the following tips:

Apply On Skin Not Clothes

Many people that use up their perfume fast are those that spray directly on to their clothes and not skin. While it may seem like you are maximizing how long it lasts, you are merely wasting it since you may need a lot of it, depending on the fabric of the clothes. Always apply perfume to your skin and save your precious bottle of liquid by getting sprays meant for your clothes.

Apply on Pulse Points

For an excellent quality bottle of perfume, you don't need too much of it. You need no more than two squirts on your pulse points, and this should last you the whole day. Pulse points include on your neck, behind your ears, on your wrist, inside elbows, and behind the knees.

Store in a Cool and Dry Place

You see this direction on almost everything, including your favorite fragrance, yet you still store your perfume in the bathroom. Humidity weakens the scent and breaks it down so you may realize you need more than usual. Keep your fragrance on your dressing table or cupboard to preserve it. Remember also to keep it away from direct sunlight.

Compliment The Perfume with Your Other Products

Purchase a body wash, lotion, deodorant that works well with your perfume as this is the best way to ensure you don't use too much. Doing this enables the scent to linger for longer, and you end up creating a unique fragrance.

We hope we've given you a better picture of why perfumes are so expensive - because there are substantial additional costs to the actual scent base. And, while you may consider designer perfumes to be superior, you may want to rethink that. In many cases, you're paying more for the name and not the quality of the product.

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