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  1. #1

    Default What is a Niche?

    From the discussion of Niche perfumes, I was wondering what in your mind would define a niche house?

    L'Artisan is widely distributed enough that it may not quite be a niche house anymore.
    Most of the major houses have an "exclusives" line of some kind that is expensive and takes more chances - and tends to not be advertised very much (esp. if you don't live in a big city!)

    Some classic fragrances are expensive and a little bit hard to get (I am thinking of Guerlain's Mouchoir de Monsieur, that I was unable to find in my 3rd tier cities' shops!), and certainly do not appeal to a wide audience!

    So ... how would you define a "Niche" house and when would it graduate to a non-niche? Could you think that the major houses could be successful at the "niche style?"

    And how would all the houses hiring Noses change things?
    ===
    “… [I] recall thinking that the computer would never advance much further than this. Call me naďve, but I seemed to have underestimated the universal desire to sit in a hard plastic chair and stare at a screen until your eyes cross.” ~ David Sedaris

  2. #2

    Default Re: What is a Niche?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bromo33333 View Post
    Some classic fragrances are expensive and a little bit hard to get (I am thinking of Guerlain's Mouchoir de Monsieur, that I was unable to find in my 3rd tier cities' shops!), and certainly do not appeal to a wide audience!
    If your still looking for MdM, i highly recommend www.parfumelle.com I bought mine (it was the only place i could find it) here. I also bought my Tabac Blond and En Avion extraits from them. They are one of the best online perfume shops to deal with IMO. Plus, they ship super fast.

  3. #3

    Default Re: What is a Niche?

    A niche house is generally a fragrance house that is independent from any big designer brand name. There are exceptions, but all of the well known niche houses that I can think of follow this. It is usually a well established, relatively small company, that uses high quality material to cater to a specific "niche" of the general population, namely rich people and fragrance enthusiasts.

    L'Artisan and Creed are still considered niche houses because of this. It has nothing to do with how widely distributed it is, or how many people own and wear it. Pretty much everyone and their uncle has Green Irish Tweed and Tea For Two, but the reason people own these are because of the quality of the product, not because they were trying to make a mainstream fragrance to appeal to the general population.

    I don't consider Guerlain, Caron, ect. niche houses, though they straddle a thin line. They are historic houses that have many great classics and pioneered the modern fragrance industry, yet they now cater to the masses and sell fragrances at a designer price point, and do not use the same quality ingredients that they did with Jicky or Tabac Blond.

    Certain designer houses may have niche-esque branches that are targeted at the same market and with the same quality as niche houses, but since they are attached to the designer label and most of their fragrances are mainstream, they are not considered such. Chanel is the best example of this, with their Exclusifs. Let's say Creed decided to sell men's dress shirts, still sold their fragrance line as it is (now calling them all "Exclusive" or "Private Collection"), and then introduced a new line of fragrances that are identical to their original counterparts but are made with cheap synthetic ingredients, to compete with designer fragrances in the $30-$70 price range; I don't think anyone would consider Creed a niche house at that point. Replace Creed with any other niche house and you'll come to same conclusion. Sorry, Chanel.

    And the nose doesn't have anything to do with a house being niche or not, as every house, niche or designer, tries to hire the best noses. Take Maurice Roucel, for example. He created Envy for Gucci, Insolence for Guerlain, and Musc Ravageur for Frederic Malle. However, niche houses tend to give their noses more freedom and more high quality ingredients, and you'll be able to smell the difference.

    By the way, this question has been answered countless times, just use the "Search" button to find the threads... Mods, I think this thread should be moved to "Just Starting Out."
    Last edited by somethinpositiv; 6th May 2008 at 05:25 PM.
    Check out my fragrances for sale at Crystal Flacon - NEW! Updated - Click Here!
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  4. #4

    Default Re: What is a Niche?

    A related question is whether a non-niche house can make a niche frag? I've got Cuba Black for example. It's sort of like powdery ashes with a hint of floral. I can't imagine any non-niche person thinking anything good about it. My guess is that it was meant to make smokers smell better, but since I don't smoke, I don't know. In any case, I'm wondering what niche frag people are looking for mostly. Something unique, like Cuba Black, or a frag that does things that no other has before (mostly in terms of how it develops over time)?

  5. #5

    Default Re: What is a Niche?

    Heres a discussion I started on a closely related subject last year:
    http://community.basenotes.net/showthread.php?t=198227

  6. #6

    Default Re: What is a Niche?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bromo33333 View Post
    L'Artisan is widely distributed enough that it may not quite be a niche house anymore.
    I live in a city of over 4 million people.
    L'Artisan was briefly sold in one major department store here, which now no longer stocks it.
    I haven't got a clue where to find it now.

    That's not main stream, that's niche - and a shrinking one at that.
    Renato
    Last edited by Renato; 6th May 2008 at 06:44 PM.

  7. #7

    Default Re: What is a Niche?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dimitri View Post
    Heres a discussion I started on a closely related subject last year:
    http://community.basenotes.net/showthread.php?t=198227
    Aha! Thanks ... serves me right for not thoroughly checking first.
    ===
    “… [I] recall thinking that the computer would never advance much further than this. Call me naďve, but I seemed to have underestimated the universal desire to sit in a hard plastic chair and stare at a screen until your eyes cross.” ~ David Sedaris

  8. #8

    Default Re: What is a Niche?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bromo33333 View Post
    From the discussion of Niche perfumes, I was wondering what in your mind would define a niche house?...
    So ... how would you define a "Niche" house and when would it graduate to a non-niche? Could you think that the major houses could be successful at the "niche style?"
    Niche, niche products, and niche producers have long been defined and are printed out in handbooks of economics. They are not at all specific to the product 'perfume'. I do not think it makes sense to look for new definitions. Niches in the perfume market are just a subset of that market, where a limited demand for/ supply of certain perfumes meet, Hand made, packed and shipped. A lot of 'natural fragrance producers fall into that category. Tauer, Storer, Il Profumo, and LesNez offer different kinds of perfumes, but they are all niche producers according to common economic standards. I know too little about the structure of firms like L'Artisan ore Lutens-Shiseido, but I do not really think they are niche any longer. Creed hasn't been a niche house since I don't know when, lets say 2000. Balmain, I believe has shrunk enormously, and seems so inaccessible, that they might be considered a niche house these days.
    For a general introduction into the subject, I suggest you google for 'niche market(s). Wikipedia has a brief summary on it. I think it includes the important elements. My key question always is: are there natural limits to the expansion of such a market or business, yes or no?
    'Il mondo dei profumi č un universo senza limiti: una fraganza puo rievocare sensazioni, luoghi, persone o ancora condurre in uno spazio di nuove dimensioni emozionali' L. V.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: What is a Niche?

    Quote Originally Posted by narcus View Post
    Niche, niche products, and niche producers have long been defined and are printed out in handbooks of economics. They are not at all specific to the product 'perfume'. I do not think it makes sense to look for new definitions. Niches in the perfume market are just a subset of that market, where a limited demand for/ supply of certain perfumes meet, Hand made, packed and shipped. A lot of 'natural fragrance producers fall into that category. Tauer, Storer, Il Profumo, and LesNez offer different kinds of perfumes, but they are all niche producers according to common economic standards. I know too little about the structure of firms like L'Artisan ore Lutens-Shiseido, but I do not really think they are niche any longer. Creed hasn't been a niche house since I don't know when, lets say 2000. Balmain, I believe has shrunk enormously, and seems so inaccessible, that they might be considered a niche house these days.
    For a general introduction into the subject, I suggest you google for 'niche market(s). Wikipedia has a brief summary on it. I think it includes the important elements. My key question always is: are there natural limits to the expansion of such a market or business, yes or no?
    Thank you, Narcus. You very nicely put into words what I was thinking. "Niche" is basically a marketing concept in the areas we're thinking in. Regarding your question, I think the answer depends on perspective.

    Currently, with the web, it's fairly easy to market your product all over the world and shipping is paid for by the customer (most of the time). A perfumer could be constrained by either too much business or not enough business, which is nothing new. So, concretely, I don't think there are limits to the expansion of a niche house (or a mainstream house) other than the normal pitfalls/obstacles of commerce.

    But the perspective of the "nicheness" of the frag is a different thing. And I think that's what really underlies all of this is the perceived "uniqueness" of the availability of a fragrance. Currently, in the U.S., i Profumi di Firenze frags are only available from a select number of retail outlets (a keystone of niche marketing) and they are not commonly worn here. Yet, anyway. So, in that sense, it seems they would be considered a niche house and they may have a lot of growth in this market.

    In Italy, though, iPdiF frags may be all the rage among the teenagers (I don't know -- it's just an example) which, to me, would not make it a niche frag in Italy. And would probably mean a quick death to their frags being more marketable beyond teenagers in Italy. So it would be neither niche nor face a growing market in that country.


    Similarly, fragrances priced out of the range of most people would fill the "niche" marketing definition. Clive Christian, etc. Not that they're better, but they fill that "niche" of exclusivity in a different way.
    Brent

    Catherine Deneuve: "You should put scent where you like to be kissed."


  10. #10

    Default Re: What is a Niche?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hoos View Post
    ...Currently, with the web, it's fairly easy to market your product all over the world and shipping is paid for by the customer (most of the time). A perfumer could be constrained by either too much business or not enough business, which is nothing new. So, concretely, I don't think there are limits to the expansion of a niche house (or a mainstream house) other than the normal pitfalls/obstacles of commerce.

    But the perspective of the "nicheness" of the frag is a different thing. And I think that's what really underlies all of this is the perceived "uniqueness" of the availability of a fragrance. Currently, in the U.S., i Profumi di Firenze frags are only available from a select number of retail outlets (a keystone of niche marketing) and they are not commonly worn here. Yet, anyway. So, in that sense, it seems they would be considered a niche house and they may have a lot of growth in this market.

    In Italy, though, iPdiF frags may be all the rage among the teenagers (I don't know -- it's just an example) which, to me, would not make it a niche frag in Italy. And would probably mean a quick death to their frags being more marketable beyond teenagers in Italy. So it would be neither niche nor face a growing market in that country.

    Similarly, fragrances priced out of the range of most people would fill the "niche" marketing definition. Clive Christian, etc. Not that they're better, but they fill that "niche" of exclusivity in a different way.
    There are thresholds of growth, and your business has to first earn the funds for the next investment, or become credit worthy. In the long run there may not be a limit, that's true. Remember the development in the Hi-Fi market? There were the Sonys, Yamahas, you name them. And there were the small garage shops, sound freaks and engineers, some of which grew and became famous for a small number of wonderful products! Why have they disappeared? The number of potential customers was limited and finally turned away. Huge sound boxes and amplifiers are out, and digital sound opened new possibilities. Karmann Ghia was ready to grow unlimited with their main product, a two seater that looked like a Porsche with the motor of the Volkswagen. This was a niche that had a ceiling way below the Volks, of course.

    Original niche is born out of specific limitations of resources (for perfume it could be certain ingredients). In the beginning niche products have to either be better (as viewed by a minority of potential buyers) or cheaper than the majority of products in whatever market. Niche hasn't really been a concept to boost sales, until successful pioneers demonstrated that a lot of money could be earned by addressing a specific group of buyers. Nowadays some big corporations imitate niche, like Armani, one of the biggest mass marketers in perfumes have added their Privée line, others revived a forgotten brand in big style: Acqua di Parma! These guys have all the money to make whatever perfume they want to make, and launch it in Shanghai, New York, and Ontario on the same day (How strange for a niche) But they limit the product artificially, selling it at prices and places of their choice. Chanel, Guerlain, Lutens - they all do this, and it works provided the quality of these 'prestige products' is in the bottle, not just on paper. The new wealth of individuals in Eastern Europe, the Orient and Asia has boosted the demand high priced luxury products.

    Perspective: National brands can reign on the home market but be a niche internationally. It depends on how I Profumi di Firenze is sold in Italy and whom they actually target. After Milano, Florence is probably second in perfume and fashion for the whole of Italy.

    The motivator for fake niche, I think, is return on investment, and Bankers dream up these things rather than men with an ambition to excel as independent perfumers, or rely on 'natures gifts'. True niche doesn't always warrant products of overall premium quality, but such products excel generally in one or two respects, like genuinity, uniqueness, trustworthyness, etc.. Availability, service, packaging on the other hand are sometimes negligible in the mind of a buyer. Top Brands on the tend to become institutions which sometimes survive generations of buyers.
    'Il mondo dei profumi č un universo senza limiti: una fraganza puo rievocare sensazioni, luoghi, persone o ancora condurre in uno spazio di nuove dimensioni emozionali' L. V.

  11. #11

    Default Re: What is a Niche?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hoos View Post
    ...Currently, with the web, it's fairly easy to market your product all over the world and shipping is paid for by the customer (most of the time). A perfumer could be constrained by either too much business or not enough business, which is nothing new. So, concretely, I don't think there are limits to the expansion of a niche house (or a mainstream house) other than the normal pitfalls/obstacles of commerce.

    But the perspective of the "nicheness" of the frag is a different thing. And I think that's what really underlies all of this is the perceived "uniqueness" of the availability of a fragrance. Currently, in the U.S., i Profumi di Firenze frags are only available from a select number of retail outlets (a keystone of niche marketing) and they are not commonly worn here. Yet, anyway. So, in that sense, it seems they would be considered a niche house and they may have a lot of growth in this market.

    In Italy, though, iPdiF frags may be all the rage among the teenagers (I don't know -- it's just an example) which, to me, would not make it a niche frag in Italy. And would probably mean a quick death to their frags being more marketable beyond teenagers in Italy. So it would be neither niche nor face a growing market in that country.

    Similarly, fragrances priced out of the range of most people would fill the "niche" marketing definition. Clive Christian, etc. Not that they're better, but they fill that "niche" of exclusivity in a different way.
    There are thresholds of growth, and your business has to first earn the funds for the next investment, or become credit worthy. In the long run there may not be a limit, that's true. Remember the development in the Hi-Fi market? There were the Sonys, Yamahas, you name them. And there were the small garage shops, sound freaks and engineers, some of which grew and became famous for a small number of wonderful products. Why have they disappeared? The number of potential customers was limited and finally turned away. Huge sound boxes and amplifiers are out, and digital sound opened new possibilities. Karmann Ghia was ready to grow unlimited with their main product, a two seater that looked like a Porsche with the motor of the Volkswagen. This was a niche that had a ceiling way below the Volks, of course.

    Original niche is born out of specific limitations of resources (for perfume it could be certain ingredients). In the beginning niche products have to either be better (as viewed by a minority of potential buyers) or cheaper than the majority of products in whatever market. Niche hasn't really been a concept to boost sales, until successful pioneers demonstrated that a lot of money could be earned by addressing a specific group of buyers. Nowadays some big corporations imitate niche, like Armani, one of the biggest mass marketers in perfumes who have added their Privée line. Others revived a forgotten brand in big style: Acqua di Parma. These guys have all the money to make whatever perfume they want to make, and launch it in Shanghai, New York, and Ontario on the same day (How strange would that be for a niche, I always thought. Then Tauer started that with Incense Extreme. ) But these world players limit (some of) their products artificially selling it at prices and places of their choice. Chanel, Guerlain, Lutens - they all do this, and it works provided the quality of these 'prestige products' is in the bottle, not just on paper. The new wealth of individuals in Eastern Europe, the Orient and Asia has boosted the demand for high priced products and luxury tremendously.

    The motivator for fake niche, I think, is return on investment, and bankers dream up these things rather than men with an ambition to excel as independent perfumers, or rely on 'natures gifts'. True niche doesn't always warrant products of overall premium quality, but such products excel generally in one or two respects, like genuinity, uniqueness, trustworthyness, etc.. Availability, service, packaging on the other hand are sometimes negligible in the mind of a buyer. Top Brands on the tend to become institutions which sometimes survive generations of buyers.

    Perspective: national brands can reign on the home market but be a niche internationally. In the case of I Profumi di Firenze it may depend on how they normally sell in Italy and whom they actually target. After Milano, Florence is probably second in perfume and fashion for the whole of Italy.
    'Il mondo dei profumi č un universo senza limiti: una fraganza puo rievocare sensazioni, luoghi, persone o ancora condurre in uno spazio di nuove dimensioni emozionali' L. V.

  12. #12

    Default Re: What is a Niche?

    narcus, I`m with you

    I believe that definitive word for niche is `limited`: limited number of shops (1-50) as the first condition.

    As niche are small, and has no mass-production, they should make higher price per item. (Reasons varies, from expensive ingredients to long careful work of perfumers)

    To make us buy it for higher price, they give us more reasons - creative ideas, perfumer`s freedom, legends about historical perfumer grimoires, natural/organic ingredients, old-fashioned (traditional) perfumer school, celebrities, and my favourite part - unknown non-mainstream notes, accords, and combinations. And one BIG reason - be unique! Be different!
    Vetiver The Great!!!

  13. #13

    Default Re: What is a Niche?

    Quote Originally Posted by moon_fish View Post
    narcus, I`m with you

    I believe that definitive word for niche is `limited`: limited number of shops (1-50) as the first condition.

    As niche are small, and has no mass-production, they should make higher price per item. (Reasons varies, from expensive ingredients to long careful work of perfumers)

    To make us buy it for higher price, they give us more reasons - creative ideas, perfumer`s freedom, legends about historical perfumer grimoires, natural/organic ingredients, old-fashioned (traditional) perfumer school, celebrities, and my favourite part - unknown non-mainstream notes, accords, and combinations. And one BIG reason - be unique! Be different!
    Hahaha! Remember when Tauer doubled the price for LDDM between Christmas and new Year 2006-07? It brought him more sales in the long run, I am sure. But he could only dare the crude step after LDDM became such a success within the Basenotes and other communities. To my knowledge, Scent Bar in the US is still the only perfume shop in the world, where his stuff is sold over the counter. It's not hard to guess what 90% of his sales may consist of, even though he added a few more fragrances during the past two years.
    Last edited by narcus; 9th May 2008 at 07:49 AM.
    'Il mondo dei profumi č un universo senza limiti: una fraganza puo rievocare sensazioni, luoghi, persone o ancora condurre in uno spazio di nuove dimensioni emozionali' L. V.

  14. #14

    Default Re: What is a Niche?

    Quote Originally Posted by narcus View Post
    To my knowledge, Scent Bar in the US is still the only perfume shop in the world, where his stuff is sold over the counter.
    Not so. Though his retail distribution is limited, Tauer does sell his scents locally in other outlets.
    Last edited by Sorcery of Scent; 9th May 2008 at 08:22 AM.

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