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  1. #1

    Default Is there a standard definition of "niche"?

    Some debate on a different thread has made me realize that it seems that many people have different conceptions of what a "niche" fragrance house is. Is there a standard "correct" definition of niche, or is it mostly just a subjective call on a spectrum?

    Sitting down to reflect on my own conception of the term, I'd say I consider a house niche if it:

    1. Specializes primarily in perfumes, if also other perfume related accessories or spinoffs.

    2a. Is a privately owned company, or else the perfume line is a division of a privately owned company that may also create other unrelated products (like Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier, Hermes and Bulgari)

    or else

    2b May be owned by a publicly traded corporation, but the perfume line is strictly under the control of an artist rather than a board of corporoborgs (i.e. Serge Lutens which is distributed by Shiseido).

    3. Doesn't use ingredients that smell like biohazard nuclear waste.

    Under this definition, popularity doesn't really factor in. I'd consider Guerlain niche, even though it's now owned by Louis Vuitton, so long as Jean-Paul Guerlain is still in charge of the perfumes without major corporate interference. If he retires, or is not in control of the perfumes, it becomes a corporoborg designer house.
    Last edited by GAIVS IVLIVS CAESAR; 25th May 2008 at 04:54 PM.
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  2. #2

    Default Re: Is there a standard definition of "niche"?

    Good question. My perception of a " niche" fragrance is that it is niether mainstean or designer ( that's a whole lot of interpretation in itself) geared towards the affluent masses. Mostly purchased online or at select department stores, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales, Saks, Sephora and the like.

    I'd really like to hear other BN'ers opinions

  3. #3

    Default Re: Is there a standard definition of "niche"?

    Quote Originally Posted by GAIVS IVLIVS CAESAR View Post
    Under this definition, popularity doesn't really factor in. I'd consider Guerlain niche, so long as Jean-Paul Guerlain is still in charge of the perfumes without major corporate interference. If he retires, or is not in control of the perfumes, it becomes a corporoborg designer house.
    Have you been locked up in some deep dark attic without Basenotes? LVMH. But, he's still got creative control over the non-mass marketed stuff. (L'Art et Le Matiere, Les Parisiennes and Paris exclusives)

    I didn't read your definitions whilst thinking. But, my definition of niche would be designed without mass appeal, with creative direction, quality ingredients whilst remaining under the radar, off-beat and definitive. Financial doesn't factor in, distribution partly factors in but it's mainly about the house that puts out the scents. I would call Hermes niche, mostly, apart from TdH and Kelly Caleche, which have both been designed with more average demographics in mind, hence loosing the whole off-beat and under the radar vibe. This is also why I don't classify Creed as niche, along with Aqua di Parma (Lol, even my dad's heard of them, surely thats saying something!) I also feel that niche fragrances aren't exemplified by luxury, but it does help. As Jean-Paul Guerlain says, "Luxury is something pretty and discreet."

  4. #4

    Default Re: Is there a standard definition of "niche"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vivek View Post
    Have you been locked up in some deep dark attic without Basenotes? LVMH. But, he's still got creative control over the non-mass marketed stuff. (L'Art et Le Matiere, Les Parisiennes and Paris exclusives)
    Oops - I do know that Guerlain is owned by Louis Vuitton - I actually wrote that, but part of that paragraph got erased it before I hit submit, and when I rewrote it, I must have forgot to put that part back in - so he is still in charge? But only certain things? Are the reformulations Vetiver his idea? I know that he's the one who created Vetiver Extreme.

    In any case, Guerlain is soon to not be a niche house in my opinion. Give it a decade after JP leaves and the inevitable logic of market forces on publicly traded corporations will leave the entire Guerlain line smelling like cheap bootleg Green Frich Tweed imitations of themselves.

    I do consider Creed a niche house, regardless of popularity, because that's what they specialize in, and the quality is excellent, and the fragrances are conceived of and created by the owner and, not a board of quasi-communist party corporate hacks.
    Last edited by GAIVS IVLIVS CAESAR; 25th May 2008 at 05:01 PM.
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  5. #5

    Default Re: Is there a standard definition of "niche"?

    The definition of niche that I was taught in college is something that is known by and/or appeals to a (very) small group of consumers. For example, sticking to that definition I'd still call Creed niche seeing as how literally no one that I've spoken to about this house was familiar with it other than SAs or other fragrance enthusiasts. Some other very well regarded houses (yes, I do mean Guerlain) I would not call niche.
    Looking to swap/buy/receive for free () the following samples/decants:
    Indult Tihota & Rêve en Cuir
    Chant d'Aromes extrait
    Vetiver pour Elle (5ml decant)


    Selling/swapping:
    Versace The Dreamer 50ml (1.7oz) BNIB
    ---

    "The Sunshine bores the daylights outta me!"
    http://polderposh.blogspot.com/

  6. #6
    Dependent pluran's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is there a standard definition of "niche"?

    "A type of fragrance firm that produces in limited quantity and sells in few shops."

  7. #7

    Default Re: Is there a standard definition of "niche"?

    It is true, despite being of superstar famous/infamous status here, most people have never heard of Creed.

    And it's also true that the word niche imlpies a small pocket of clientele.

    Maybe there's a different word that can be used to describe what I mean - "artisanal" or "artistry fragrances" or something of the sort. To me it's more about quality (in terms of ingredients) and craftsmanship/artistry (in terms of composition) than popularity and availability. If Creeds of Lutens suddenly became mega-popular, and available at K-Mart, yet they retained their quality of their current and future releases, I'd still want to put them in a different category from YSL or Givenchy for example, who make really interesting compositions but out of nuclear waste materials.
    Last edited by GAIVS IVLIVS CAESAR; 25th May 2008 at 06:29 PM.
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  8. #8

    Default Re: Is there a standard definition of "niche"?

    I had said this in another thread and I say it here again...scents that I can't afford are niche to me


    PVC and Leather. A Chain and a feather




  9. #9

    Default Re: Is there a standard definition of "niche"?

    Quote Originally Posted by GAIVS IVLIVS CAESAR View Post
    I'd still want to put them in a different category from YSL or Givenchy for example, who make really interesting compositions but out of nuclear waste materials.
    And after we've coined up the new term we can call YSL niche on account of them having created Kouros (see: appeals to a (very) small group of consumers).

    Looking to swap/buy/receive for free () the following samples/decants:
    Indult Tihota & Rêve en Cuir
    Chant d'Aromes extrait
    Vetiver pour Elle (5ml decant)


    Selling/swapping:
    Versace The Dreamer 50ml (1.7oz) BNIB
    ---

    "The Sunshine bores the daylights outta me!"
    http://polderposh.blogspot.com/

  10. #10

    Default Re: Is there a standard definition of "niche"?

    IMO there are two definitions:
    The theoretical.
    Includes GAIVS IVLIVS CAESAR's first point and plurans definition. (because of that I do not consider Bulgary to be Niche)
    Quality of ingredients has nothing to do with niche, it is more a matter of origins, production and distribution.

    The practical. (i.e. the definition that most people unconsiously use)
    If it costs more than 75 dollars and you cannot get it a macy's it is niche. (again, quality of ingredients has nothing to do with this definition )


    I am not sure if mass appeal is a causal for being niche or not.

    By the way, Kouros sells and it sells a lot (more than M7 or RG). Otherwise they wouldn't have a dozen of spinoffs.
    Last edited by irish; 25th May 2008 at 07:56 PM.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Is there a standard definition of "niche"?

    I guess I should get you a copy of the latest edition of Spotting obvious jokes for Dummies.
    Looking to swap/buy/receive for free () the following samples/decants:
    Indult Tihota & Rêve en Cuir
    Chant d'Aromes extrait
    Vetiver pour Elle (5ml decant)


    Selling/swapping:
    Versace The Dreamer 50ml (1.7oz) BNIB
    ---

    "The Sunshine bores the daylights outta me!"
    http://polderposh.blogspot.com/

  12. #12

    Default Re: Is there a standard definition of "niche"?

    Quote Originally Posted by irish View Post
    Quality of ingredients has nothing to do with niche, it is more a matter of origins, production and distribution.
    Absolutely. The industry's Fragrance Foundation used to separate fragrances based upon over-500-doors and under-500-doors, although the FiFi Awards categories have changed recently and there's no more current information.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Is there a standard definition of "niche"?

    What do you mean by "doors"?
    CAESAR SEEKS:
    CREED: Chevrefeuille, SMW, BdP, Aventus
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    YSL: Vintage M7

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  14. #14

    Default Re: Is there a standard definition of "niche"?

    Although the question was not directed to me (I guess it was directed to advocate) I'll say that it was just a classification of departmental stores. How do they count the doors of departmental stores I do not know. (I guess it meant in how many places you are able to find a particular perfume)(or maybe it meant how many locations a particular chain has. Saks vs. JCPenney)

    For the new classification look at this link.
    http://nowsmellthis.blogharbor.com/b...3/3578367.html
    The distinction between the categories "nouveau niche" and "luxe" is simply in how widely distributed the fragrances are (it has nothing to do with price or any other factor).
    Last edited by irish; 26th May 2008 at 06:57 AM.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Is there a standard definition of "niche"?

    ...
    Last edited by irish; 14th September 2008 at 09:13 AM.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Is there a standard definition of "niche"?

    Quote Originally Posted by GAIVS IVLIVS CAESAR View Post
    What do you mean by "doors"?
    Number of brick-and-mortar stores actually stocking a particular product.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Is there a standard definition of "niche"?

    My Ideal Niche Definition:
    --Artisanal or craft compositions which are mostly created by one person in a "hands-on" design process
    --production of unusual or edgy designs which may not appeal to a wide audience
    --produced with high quality ingredients
    --produced in limited quantities
    --have limited distribution
    --have higher prices due to higher cost of creating the product

    My Jaded Niche Commentary:
    I think it is every perfumer's dream to go "big time" without having to sell out to mass marketing. It is a delicate balance between creative control and making a pleasing product. I do not believe for one second that a perfumer would not want many, many people to be enjoying their creation. I could go on, but I am sure this topic will come up again. Suffice it to say that if there are no customers, there is no reason for the perfume to exist except for the perfumers own edification.
    Last edited by Asha; 27th May 2008 at 08:06 PM.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Is there a standard definition of "niche"?

    For me three criteria need to be fulfilled;

    An olfactory flight of fancy; i.e. "I want to replicate the day I ate a gateau Opera, while the spring rain fell, and the woman with red-hair fixed her stacking, and two dogs chased a leaf."

    Lavishly priced; 50 ml = 100 + euros

    Difficult to find, in a store; not at Sephora, nor other common retailer.
    Quand on boit l'eau, il faut penser à sa source

  19. #19

    Default Re: Is there a standard definition of "niche"?

    Number One of the Ten Commandments of Niche:

    Thou shall not aim your creation at the fragrance buying public's lowest common denominator.
    Last edited by Kevin Guyer; 27th May 2008 at 08:44 PM.

  20. #20
    Hoos's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is there a standard definition of "niche"?

    I think we all define "niche" in our own way. It's really a marketing term, but we all understand the concept of "niche fragrance". Since we all understand it, I think the only definition that would apply overall is "not mainstream".

    That being said, I'm sure there are plenty of people who would consider any fragrance at Neiman-Marcus to be "niche" because they don't see it at Target or Macy's.

    My definition of niche is probably very similar to that, if more detailed: a quality fragrance (one that doesn't smell of chemicals or make me sick) that is manufactured in accordance with the "nose's" philosophy (whether it's an individual or a company) in mind. The fragrance could be a mainstream fragrance (like limes or neroli) or something unique (like Dzing! or Mechant Loup) to my nose.

    I don't consider the lines of Jennifer Lopez or the Olson twins or Paris Hilton to be niche frags. They may be small runs that are now hard to find. But it would take some heavy persuasion (and possibly the payment of cash) to make me think they are anything more than quickly assembled chemical concoctions meant to be sold mainly on the current popularity of their namesakes.
    Brent

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


  21. #21

    Default Re: Is there a standard definition of "niche"?

    This seems to be a case of "I do not think that word means what you think it means." "Niche" is a term of art, understood by professionals in a given industry to mean a certain thing, just as "malice" under the law and "diagnosis" in medicine have more narrow and specialized meanings than the English dictionary definition. The thing about words is that we don't individually get to make up what they mean.

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