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  1. #1

    Default Is there a market for niche perfumes in a city of 1.000.000+ people?

    So, I am having this idea lately about a brick and mortar niche perfume shop in my city of more than a million people ( Thessaloniki, Greece ). The most close to niche you can find here is a Jo Malone shop, don't know if Jo Malone is considered niche anyway. Otherwise, we have these big Sephora style stores that carry the usual designer and non niche brands. The income here is not high but the beauty industry is going too well. Women, and men lately, are very sensitive about their appearance and spend a lot to look better from a very young age. As a result we are filled with beauty salons, hair salons, spas, cosmetic stores, and other luxury stuff and services. But no Creed, no Serge Lutens, no L' Artisan Parfumeur, no Penhaligon's and certainly no Montale, no Frederic Malle, no Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier, no Amouage, etc.
    Is there anyone here that has any ideas on how to do a market research? Of course the proper company will be hired to do this. Do you know of anyone who has started a niche perfume shop with one or more brands in it that could offer some advice? What exactly does one want to find out through a research? If there is already a market, if people know about niche perfumes, if a new market could be created by "educating" people and with the help of marketing, how much people generally spend on perfumes?
    All of the above are just some first random thoughts, I have practically no knowledge of the industry, but the idea of a niche perfume store fascinates me enough to look more into it. Any comments welcome.
    Have a nice day

    Panagiotis

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    the_good_life's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is there a market for niche perfumes in a city of 1.000.000+ people?

    Well, Frankfurt/Germany has roughly 600.000 inhabitants, two high-end niche stores with massive selection, as well as countless perfumeries that carry a number of or this or that niche line - but it's a business city with a large non-native cosmopolitan business elite with the money and consumer outlook to be interested in these products, as well as local old money. That adds up to a good customer base. You'd have to find out whether and what kind of niche has potential - is there a wealthy young crowd that would go for Comme des Garcons, Etat Libre etc., would local businessmen buy Creeds, local patricians go for Penhaligon's and so on. Vijay and some other people in the business should have more precise advice.
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    Default Re: Is there a market for niche perfumes in a city of 1.000.000+ people?

    Of course there is a market! You are practically describing the city where I was born... There people are easily impressed by luxury stuff and EDTs are rather affordable. (I mean, just look at IPODs, every IPOD I have used is a POS but people love them even though there are much better MP3 pleyers out there)

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    Default Re: Is there a market for niche perfumes in a city of 1.000.000+ people?

    I looked into this somewhat last year and came to the conclusion that it is all about location. If you can afford to position yourself where people buy other luxury goods (clothes/leather etc) you have a chance to pick up trade (if you get everything else right too). Otherwise I fear the internet is a big enemy to brick and mortar stores.
    "Don’t try to be original. Be simple. Be good technically, and if there is something in you, it will come out. ” - Henri Matisse.

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    Default Re: Is there a market for niche perfumes in a city of 1.000.000+ people?

    hirch_duckfinder makes very good points.

    I would add that customer service can really make or break a business like this. A staff that's educated about the products they're selling and knowing when to assist can bring in customers. That needs to be balanced with knowing when to leave customers alone and recognizing customers that know about fragrances vs. those who are just starting out.

    If a store has good or great customer service, I'll shop there before shopping on the internet.

    If a store has bad customer service, I'll buy from the internet instead of the store.
    Brent

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


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    Default Re: Is there a market for niche perfumes in a city of 1.000.000+ people?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hoos View Post
    hirch_duckfinder makes very good points. I would add that customer service can really make or break a business like this.
    Both location and customer service will be very important, for sure. But unless you are in a huge city where a critical mass of people have lots of disposable income (e.g. New York, Paris, Los Angeles, London, etc), I think it will be crucial to have a substantial internet presence. The bottom line is that most of your potential customers do not live in your city, and you will need to amortize the fixed costs of doing business across as many customers as possible in order to remain competitive.

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    Default Re: Is there a market for niche perfumes in a city of 1.000.000+ people?

    Quote Originally Posted by hirch_duckfinder View Post
    I looked into this somewhat last year and came to the conclusion that it is all about location. If you can afford to position yourself where people buy other luxury goods (clothes/leather etc) you have a chance to pick up trade (if you get everything else right too). Otherwise I fear the internet is a big enemy to brick and mortar stores.
    I think hirch duckfinder is absolutely right about location.

    As for competition from the Internet, I think the solution is simple: do both. Luckyscent in LA and Aedes de Venustas in NY have both brick-and-mortar locations and thriving online businesses. Most of the online discounters sell designer, not niche, fragrances, because designers are so much easier to get your hands on. Most niche lines seem to be pretty careful about whom they allow to sell their stuff. The problem there, of course, is earning their trust.

    I also agree with the point about customer service. Aedes in New York, for example, has a beautiful space. And the best thing about it is: THEY LEAVE YOU ALONE. All the samplers are out and you can stay as long as you want and sample as many fragrances as you want without them hovering over you. But they're always there if you have a question and they're always happy to give you knowledgeable recommendations--the exact opposite of the SAs in department stores, who know absolutely nothing and harass you to boot. If you ever have a chance to go to New York, make sure you visit their store for a sense of how to do it right. I've never been to Luckyscent, but I would guess (or hope!) that they take a similar approach.

    And try to get at least one niche line to give you exclusive distribution rights in Greece. That will be a big bonus, especially in terms of online sales. There are so many niche lines these days that I'll bet there are a couple that haven't been snatched up yet.

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    Default Re: Is there a market for niche perfumes in a city of 1.000.000+ people?

    As with any retail, it is all about location - as H.D. points out. Find a location first, and spend some time looking for the right storefront. Here are some suggestions

    - I would imagine you would want to attract a "walk in" crowd who are out shopping, dining, or partying - so somewhere with good streetlife at night is essential. And consider staying open late on the weekends (until 10pm or later).

    - You might also want to advertise locally to attract people from the surrounding areas.

    - Try to make your store a "destination" store where people travel to get there. Hold special events, presentations by perfumers, wine-and-cheese receptions (or whatever is appropriate).

    - Stock more than just perfumes. Look at high-end shaving and men's grooming supplies, soaps, etc. Cosmetics might be difficult, though...

    - Provide generous samples - even if you have to offer them for a small amount of money (look at LuckyScents). People might be willing to shell out $120 for a bottle if they can try a 1ml vial first for $3.

    Good luck!
    Teddius
    Last edited by Teddius; 9th June 2008 at 01:42 AM.

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    Default Re: Is there a market for niche perfumes in a city of 1.000.000+ people?

    Quote Originally Posted by hirch_duckfinder View Post
    I looked into this somewhat last year and came to the conclusion that it is all about location. If you can afford to position yourself where people buy other luxury goods (clothes/leather etc) you have a chance to pick up trade (if you get everything else right too). Otherwise I fear the internet is a big enemy to brick and mortar stores.
    I'm with you on the point about positioning. My nearest big city is quite large, but doesn't have anything like this. Similar stores for other specialty luxury products are all near pedestrian traffic for other, larger, fashion and luxury businesses. I would imagine that it would be rough seas for such a small business at first. But we do have room in our business ecosystem. Perfumania shops have grown into the small niche (no pun intended) which exists below the Saks and the like. There may be a survivable place here above the department stores.

    Quote Originally Posted by FloatingPoint View Post
    Aedes in New York, for example, has a beautiful space. And the best thing about it is: THEY LEAVE YOU ALONE. All the samplers are out and you can stay as long as you want and sample as many fragrances as you want without them hovering over you. But they're always there if you have a question and they're always happy to give you knowledgeable recommendations--the exact opposite of the SAs in department stores, who know absolutely nothing and harass you to boot. If you ever have a chance to go to New York, make sure you visit their store for a sense of how to do it right.
    Thanks for the tip. Even their website is amazing. I would love to live within driving distance of a store like this. I'm already thinking of excuses to go to NYC.

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    Default Re: Is there a market for niche perfumes in a city of 1.000.000+ people?

    Quote Originally Posted by Redneck Perfumisto View Post
    Thanks for the tip. Even their website is amazing. I would love to live within driving distance of a store like this. I'm already thinking of excuses to go to NYC.
    I don't mean to torment you any further, but here are about fifty more reasons to go to NYC:

    http://nowsmellthis.blogharbor.com/b...wYorkCity.html

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    Default Re: Is there a market for niche perfumes in a city of 1.000.000+ people?

    Quote Originally Posted by FloatingPoint View Post
    I don't mean to torment you any further, but here are about fifty more reasons to go to NYC:

    http://nowsmellthis.blogharbor.com/b...wYorkCity.html
    YEE-HAH!!! Ooops. Sorry for yelling. But now the question becomes - since I will be forced to choose among them - which ones? Oh, the horror of it all! But I think I've got to put Aedes at the top of the list.

    Wow. Simply amazing. I could go on a fragrance vacation, and not see everything.

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    Default Re: Is there a market for niche perfumes in a city of 1.000.000+ people?

    Quote Originally Posted by FloatingPoint View Post
    I don't mean to torment you any further, but here are about fifty more reasons to go to NYC:

    http://nowsmellthis.blogharbor.com/b...wYorkCity.html
    I occasionally sit with a smug look on my face, thinking that living in Los Angeles is "what it's all about". Then I go to a link like that. I'm going to need to get over there again soon ...

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    Default Re: Is there a market for niche perfumes in a city of 1.000.000+ people?

    Quote Originally Posted by Redneck Perfumisto View Post
    YEE-HAH!!! Ooops. Sorry for yelling. But now the question becomes - since I will be forced to choose among them - which ones? Oh, the horror of it all! But I think I've got to put Aedes at the top of the list.

    Wow. Simply amazing. I could go on a fragrance vacation, and not see everything.
    I lived in New York for about eight years and only discovered that list about two weeks before I left! Arrgh! But at least I get to go back fairly often.

    You can't go wrong with Aedes. That should definitely be your first stop.

    Next stop should be the cluster of department stores and boutiques on and around Fifth Avenue (listed under "Uptown" and "Midtown"): Barney's, Bergdorf Goodman, Caron, Chanel, Henri Bendel (don't overlook this one, they have stuff nobody else has), Hermes, Saks, Takashiyama.

    The rest of it, frankly, is just icing on the cake.

    As impressive as the list is, I think Paris and maybe London are still better towns for perfume shopping, since you can get stuff there you can get nowhere else (except online in some cases), such as the Lutens non-export line in Paris and Ormonde Jayne in London.

    Anyway, to come back on topic, I think the lesson of this list is that if New York can support this many retail outlets for niche perfumes, a city of one million probably has room for at least one.

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    Default Re: Is there a market for niche perfumes in a city of 1.000.000+ people?

    Quote Originally Posted by Astaroth View Post
    I occasionally sit with a smug look on my face, thinking that living in Los Angeles is "what it's all about". Then I go to a link like that. I'm going to need to get over there again soon ...
    If it makes you feel any better (not that I want to encourage smugness), Luckyscent's selection is so phenomenal that I've had to order stuff from them that I couldn't find in New York (Parfums MDCI, for example). If that were the only place I could shop, I'd still be pretty content.

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    Default Re: Is there a market for niche perfumes in a city of 1.000.000+ people?

    Quote Originally Posted by FloatingPoint View Post
    If it makes you feel any better (not that I want to encourage smugness), Luckyscent's selection is so phenomenal that I've had to order stuff from them that I couldn't find in New York (Parfums MDCI, for example). If that were the only place I could shop, I'd still be pretty content.
    Also to make whomever feel better, Luckyscent doesn't even stock many of their online offerings at the tiny Scent Bar. I still have to order samples from them even though I'm local. Love Luckyscent, though.

    Good luck if you decide to go forward with the new shop, Tarzan.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Is there a market for niche perfumes in a city of 1.000.000+ people?

    Hi all, thank you very much for all your answers. I may look a bit more into this. You can continue the brainstorming on this thread, I 'll be watching it. The location issue is a big trouble in this city, you can understand how high the rents are by seeing that a cup of coffee costs 5 Euros or more in the best locations. And we also have what we call " the air " of a store, don't know if you have that. " The air " is a price that the owner of the store asks you to pay because the store is situated in a good location. This can be anywhere between 10.000 - 300.000 Euros, the owner decides, and is paid up front and you pay it once for the duratoin of the contract. These are the main obstacles to a business trying to be profitable. Just think that Mcdonald's have failed in this city, Subway, Starbucks and H&M are doing bad, etc.
    The customer service, if it happens, is going to be the big strength of such a store. The reason is of course that I will be the boss and will educate everybody else.
    The idea of stocking more than just perfumes, I don't like it very much. Wouldn't it be better to specialise just in perfumes? I thought about high end shaving stuff but there is absolutely no market for these at the moment.
    Astaroth says
    " But unless you are in a huge city where a critical mass of people have lots of disposable income (e.g. New York, Paris, Los Angeles, London, etc), I think it will be crucial to have a substantial internet presence. The bottom line is that most of your potential customers do not live in your city, and you will need to amortize the fixed costs of doing business across as many customers as possible in order to remain competitive. "
    I agree, it may be crucial to have an website+online shop from the beginning of the venture.
    The niche that has potential seems to be women of all ages, but we will need statistics on this.
    The idea of attracting a walk in crowd and picking up trade is nice, but do you think it is absolutely necessary? I was thinking that maybe this kind of business doesn't need "random customers" so much in order to be profitable, and that targeted marketing, building a loyal customer base and mouth to mouth advertisement would be the first and most important step into making it successful. Comments?
    All the other ideas are good, too, can you explain me one last thing? What exactly does it mean to have exclusive distribution rights of a line in a country? Does it refer to offline, online sales or both? And what exactly is the bonus here?
    Thanks again for contributing and if you think of anything else, just post it and we will find out later if it is a brilliant idea!
    Have a nice day

    Panagiotis

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    Default Re: Is there a market for niche perfumes in a city of 1.000.000+ people?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tarzan View Post
    The idea of attracting a walk in crowd and picking up trade is nice, but do you think it is absolutely necessary? I was thinking that maybe this kind of business doesn't need "random customers" so much in order to be profitable, and that targeted marketing, building a loyal customer base and mouth to mouth advertisement would be the first and most important step into making it successful. Comments?
    All the other ideas are good, too, can you explain me one last thing? What exactly does it mean to have exclusive distribution rights of a line in a country? Does it refer to offline, online sales or both? And what exactly is the bonus here?
    Thanks again for contributing and if you think of anything else, just post it and we will find out later if it is a brilliant idea!
    Aedes de Venustas in New York doesn't get a lot of random walk-in traffic. They're located off a main street with a very small storefront. You have to buzz to be let inside because they have small dogs inside and don't want them running out. So it's not exactly easy to find or even "welcoming" from the outside looking in, yet they still manage to survive. But they're in New York and have a very loyal client base, so they can get away with it.

    Exclusive "distribution" may not have been the best choice of words. Basically what you want is the exclusive right to sell that brand in the entire country of Greece, whether it be online or in a store. That way, if anybody in Greece wants to buy products in that line, they have to either come to your store, buy it from you online, or possibly order it from outside of Greece and pay higher shipping and possibly a higher retail price. It's a bonus because it means that, for that brand at least, you won't have to worry about competitors taking some of your business away. Of course it isn't easy to get exclusive rights to a brand, and it's next to impossible for a popular brand, but it does help assure a certain amount of sales, particularly online.

    But I have to say, if McDonald's, H&M, and Starbucks are struggling to make it in your city, I would think twice about going into ANY kind of retail venture there!

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    Default Re: Is there a market for niche perfumes in a city of 1.000.000+ people?

    Tarzan,

    starting off with an online store, building a customer base and getting your brand out there may be a way to start. It sounds like Thessaloniki is an expensive city to do business, by building a brand online you may find investors willing to part with enough money so that you can do the brick and mortar store right the first time.

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    Default Re: Is there a market for niche perfumes in a city of 1.000.000+ people?

    Quote Originally Posted by FloatingPoint View Post
    But I have to say, if McDonald's, H&M, and Starbucks are struggling to make it in your city, I would think twice about going into ANY kind of retail venture there!
    Personally I wouldn't worry about how stores like McDonald's, H&M, and Starbucks are doing. Tarzan's potential clients are probably not going to frequent businesses like these. For a gauge of how well a niche business would do, look at other niche or high-end retailers, restaurants etc.

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    Default Re: Is there a market for niche perfumes in a city of 1.000.000+ people?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tarzan View Post
    I thought about high end shaving stuff but there is absolutely no market for these at the moment.
    Tarzan, the most successful businesses create their own market for their products.

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    Default Re: Is there a market for niche perfumes in a city of 1.000.000+ people?

    Quote Originally Posted by surreality View Post
    Personally I wouldn't worry about how stores like McDonald's, H&M, and Starbucks are doing. Tarzan's potential clients are probably not going to frequent businesses like these. For a gauge of how well a niche business would do, look at other niche or high-end retailers, restaurants etc.
    Perhaps, but I have yet to see a city that can support high-end retailers but can't support a McDonald's. Unless it's an imaginary city where nobody makes less than 70,000 Euros a year. Of course it may be that McD's, Starbucks, and H&M's potential clientele all prefer local businesses, but if what he says is true, it sounds more likely that the city is having generalized economic problems, in which case opening a high-end perfume boutique is probably a losing proposition. Especially if you have to pay landlords a 10,000 - 300,000 Euro bribe just to get a decent location.
    Last edited by FloatingPoint; 13th June 2008 at 12:53 AM.

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    Default Re: Is there a market for niche perfumes in a city of 1.000.000+ people?

    Quote Originally Posted by FloatingPoint View Post
    Perhaps, but I have yet to see a city that can support high-end retailers but can't support a McDonald's.
    McDonald's might be a economic indicator in US cities but this is may not the case in other countries. One would expect retailers like McD' and Starbucks who rely on high volume but low profit margin sales to go under in a city with high business costs. Besides there may be many other factors than purely economic as to why these foreign companies are doing poorly in Thesaloniki; someone who has grown up drinking Greek coffee and eating fresh seafood and lamb is probably going to think Starbucks and McD's sucks.
    Last edited by surreality; 13th June 2008 at 03:19 AM.

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    Default Re: Is there a market for niche perfumes in a city of 1.000.000+ people?

    Tarzan,

    you wanted some market research ideas. Here are some.

    1) Study what unsuccessful businesses are doing. Try to discover what mistakes they are making so that you can avoid making those same mistakes.

    2) Study successful businesses that are targeting the demographic you are aiming at; find out what they are doing and find ways to do it better.

    3) Focus on a particular market segment; women of all ages is too broad. A niche retailer that aims at such a broad demographic is doomed to fail.

    4) To find a demographic to target, study demographic trends for the city. Is the population growing, staying stable, or declining? Look at the statistics to do with age, what is the median age of the population, what is the age and gender distribution? What is the median income, is it growing or declining? Look at the cost of living? How does the cost of living compare to median income? How is it trending? What parts of the city does your target demographic primarily live and work? Then look at other factors. Look at the number of passenger arrivals coming through the airports and seaports. Is tourism increasing or decreasing? What types of tourist come to your city? Where are they from? Where do they spend there money and time? How much do they spend on average?

    5) Once you found out the demographic data, tailor the concept to demographics of the city. Many businesses that sound good, sell quality products and do everything else right can fail because they are not catering to the needs and/or wants of the population (permanent and/or tourist).

    6) Find an area of the city that is highly trafficed by your demographic. Getting that prime location in the chic part of town might sound great, but if the people you are targeting don't spend much time there it may not be worth it. Getting a place in a not so chic location but which your target audience spends a lot of time could work out better.

    7) Once you've targeted an audience, find out if they are interested in what you have to offer. Also, find out what other products and services they want or need that may be related to what you want to sell? Sometimes to sell people what you want to sell them you have to lure them with something else.

    8) Know your customer. Knowing the product is only one half of the equation; if you know your customers it makes it much easier to sell them your product.

    9) Be careful of using gimmicks. The right gimmick can make a business, the wrong gimmick can just as easily break it.

    10) Be flexible.
    Last edited by surreality; 13th June 2008 at 03:36 AM. Reason: fixed typo, added info

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    Default Re: Is there a market for niche perfumes in a city of 1.000.000+ people?

    An alternate possibility?

    Tarzan, it seems to me that a typical niche boutique requires a substantial customer base with two things; niche fragrance knowledge and money to burn.Suppose your research finds that this base is simply not present.What if you (or anyone in a similar city) opened a brick and mortar decant shop instead?

    I'm thinking about something similar to the Perfumed Court, but obviously with a much smaller inventory. I don't know anything about the legality of such a shop, but it seems that if it can be done on the web, one ought to be able to do it in a physical shop as well.

    In its own way, this shop could be revolutionary, turning the typical niche market formula upside down. Rather than relying on in-the-know customers with fat wallets, you could use in-store evidence (posters, articles, books, multimedia) and most importantly the scents themselves to help fragrance novices with skinny wallets learn that there is more to fragrance than CK1.

    Anyone know anything about the legal issues surrounding decants? I'd be interested to know how it works.

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    Default Re: Is there a market for niche perfumes in a city of 1.000.000+ people?

    Iceland has roughly 300k people and Reykjavik has 250k of them. We have a few places that sell niche perfumes ( annick goutal, CdG, di Parma and L´artisan).
    Overall the choice in perfumes is extremely limited in the mainstream perfume shops ( chemists), the places that sell the niche do so as a sideline business as their primary product is not perfume.

    I think the only reason why some stores sell the niche perfume is because some icelanders are extremely wealthy and appearance is everything here (for some).

    I mean if the 1 million people as a whole aren´t that preoccupied with appearances, looks, image and all that stuff it might not appeal to them as much as the icelanders. They are very fashion and trendy so a percentage of the trendy people will want to smell good too.

  26. #26

    Default Re: Is there a market for niche perfumes in a city of 1.000.000+ people?

    Small perfumery shops sometimes face extra-ordinary challenges, with distribution, particularly, such as Tom Ford's 200 bottle minimum.

    Before one considers a shop, one should take that type of challenge into account.


    Vassaari

  27. #27

    Default Re: Is there a market for niche perfumes in a city of 1.000.000+ people?

    Thessaloniki is a port city, so if you got a lot of people coming through there, you should have some support for a fine fragrance store.

    I'd suggest you put together a business plan, and attend the International Trade Festival in September to see how someone in the business community might react to such a proposal. You'll also need to find out what your potential customers in your area like to buy (my guess is a lot of Bulgari stuff - just a hunch).

    You should run a niche fragrance kiosk for awhile, before you do the brick and mortar thing. You can get your name out and make your mistakes early on, when it's cheap. Do what you can to get your name out and try to meet as many people as you can.

    Get a website with good graphic design with easy ordering (spend the money for this). Less is more with webstores (see Frederic Malle). Make sure you're available and friendly at all times. Send out press releases and buy advertising space (more money). You need everyone to know what you're all about, and that you're the guy to see about "the good stuff."

    Running a store is a damn lot of work, and it takes a ton of money.
    Current frags (in order of preference):

    1) GIT
    2) GV
    3) MR

  28. #28

    Default Re: Is there a market for niche perfumes in a city of 1.000.000+ people?

    Dublin has around 1.4 million people now and has just one high-end niche perfume shop (plus four large department stores that carry top-end designer stuff and some niche scents too. (It also sustains several small-ish discounters, and a couple of TK Maxxes too.)

    The niche shop is a couple of (small) streets away from the top shopping street. It carries complete (or nearly complete) ranges of brands like CdG, Annick Goutal, l'Artisan, Diptyque, Miller-Harris, Aqua di Parma, Truefitt & Hill, etc.

    It appears to be doing well, but that may have more to do with the fact that about half of its space is for top-end grooming products and that it has a very top-end beauty salon in the back. I know that it has reduced the number of scents it sells over the past year or so, as I suspect many were just sitting there on the shelves.

    The department stores appear to fare better, as they have a large footfall thanks to women (and let's be honest, it is mostly women) coming into the shops for top-end designer clothing or housewares. None of them have a large range of scents though. In one you'll find Jo Malone, Tom Ford, Creed and Chanel Exclusive Range. In another Serge Lutens, and in a third Bond No. 9 and Creed.

    (In contrast, the much-smaller Spanish town of Puerto Banus, on the Costa del Sol, has two very good perfume shops on the harbour, as well as a huge perfume section in the El Corte Ingles department store a few steps away. But then Puerto Banus must have more money per square inch than most places on earth, as well as a HUGE tourist through-put in the summer.)

    I think the key thing will be having enough cash to open the store (fittings, stock, advertising) and then being able to sustain yourself for perhaps a year or more before any real money starts coming in. The previous suggestion of trying a stand in a mall, or perhaps renting floor space in a department store, might be the best way to get your feet "wet" in the biz...

    If you take the plunge, then go out of your way to court some local journalists (newspapers and women's magazines) and try to get as much positive publicity as you can. Giving away a few bottles of perfume and/or samples is a LOT cheaper than buying advertising space. Follow the sterling example of Andy Tauer in customer relations and you'll see what good PR can result! In fact, you should include Tauer's range in your stock...

    Whatever your decision, best of luck!

  29. #29

    Default Re: Is there a market for niche perfumes in a city of 1.000.000+ people?

    The types of brick-and-mortar businesses that flourish without random footfall of customers are service-based; the types of businesses that someone goes out of their way to look for. Key cutters, legal professionals, dentists, beauty salons, hairdressers... and even some of those businesses could benefit from being prominently placed where passers by will spot them.

    For a niche-interest store that's also a new startup business - you'd need your first store to be situated in a good, but not overly expensive location (so that you don't spend all your money on rent and costs). But don't go to a BAD location and think people will come. Unless you can hire professional publicists and PR people full time to get your business featured in every possible way & pay for traditional advertising... in which case you might as well use your money to go to a GOOD location in the first place!

    The advice given in this thread is pretty good: consider starting an online business first; then perhaps a concession in another store (join up with a flower shop or a beauty salon), or a unit in a shopping centre/mall.

    Develop a realistic business plan and don't expect to make profit in your first year (if you do, great, but it's unlikely because of all the start-up costs).

    Decide right at the start what your business is about. Is it a discounted/special offer kind of business? Is it a capsule collection of what you consider to be the best of the best in niche scents? Or will you attempt to source every difficult-to-find exclusive for your customers as a kind of personal service? Or something else. Stick to your vision and don't try to be all things for every man.

    Good luck!
    Last edited by Nukapai; 12th July 2008 at 07:43 PM.

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Is there a market for niche perfumes in a city of 1.000.000+ people?

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    Last edited by MFJ; 13th October 2009 at 05:44 AM.

  31. #31
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    Default Re: Is there a market for niche perfumes in a city of 1.000.000+ people?

    Quote Originally Posted by FloatingPoint View Post
    If it makes you feel any better (not that I want to encourage smugness), Lucky Scent's selection is so phenomenal that I've had to order stuff from them that I couldn't find in New York (Parfums MDCI, for example). If that were the only place I could shop, I'd still be pretty content.
    They have amazing selection, and as far as I can tell they are the sole United States distributer for one of my soon-to-be favorite niche perfumers, Profumum. It will require at least a few months before I have completely explored what they have to offer.

    Quote Originally Posted by FloatingPoint View Post
    Aedes de Venustas in New York doesn't get a lot of random walk-in traffic. They're located off a main street with a very small storefront.
    They are undoubtedly doing this to save on rent. Lucky Scent is located on Beverly Blvd a few blocks East of the Beverly Center and Beverly Connection (a huge Mecca for conspicuous consumption here in West Los Angeles and Beverly Hills). One of the proprietors of Lucky Scent told me their rent would triple if they were to have located just a few blocks further South on 3rd St where many chic restaurants are located, so they obviously opted to place themselves in very close proximity to all the action, much like Aedes de Venustas.

    Random foot traffic into the store is minimal, I think. It is mostly Los Angeles perfumistos and visitors making their de rigeur pilgrimages. Los Angeles is undoubtedly large enough that there is a critical mass of perfumistos to retain a storefront here, but I'm sure Lucky Scent's online business is also very important for their bottom line. After all, most of the world's perfume fanatics don't live here.

    Also, foot traffic means something different here in Los Angeles than it does in New York. Here, foot traffic is usually defined as what happens when you are walking to-and-from your car. Also, I think the quality of a neighborhood here can greatly impact who walks through the door. Lucky Scent is located in a good neighborhood; you can walk around at dusk without too much concern. There are other perfume stores here in Los Angeles which I have been avoiding visiting, since they are located in questionable neighborhoods where my safety might be an issue, or where I might go back to find my car is missing its wheels. This factor is not likely to be as important outside the United States, I would imagine.
    Last edited by Astaroth; 16th July 2008 at 09:56 AM. Reason: spelling errors

  32. #32

    Default Re: Is there a market for niche perfumes in a city of 1.000.000+ people?

    I want to open a niche perfumery too. Can any of you tell me a distributor? Where do you buy the perfumes from. Thank you very much.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vassaari View Post
    Small perfumery shops sometimes face extra-ordinary challenges, with distribution, particularly, such as Tom Ford's 200 bottle minimum.

    Before one considers a shop, one should take that type of challenge into account.


    Vassaari

  33. #33
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    Default Re: Is there a market for niche perfumes in a city of 1.000.000+ people?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hoos View Post
    hirch_duckfinder makes very good points.

    I would add that customer service can really make or break a business like this. A staff that's educated about the products they're selling and knowing when to assist can bring in customers. That needs to be balanced with knowing when to leave customers alone and recognizing customers that know about fragrances vs. those who are just starting out.

    If a store has good or great customer service, I'll shop there before shopping on the internet.

    If a store has bad customer service, I'll buy from the internet instead of the store.
    Absolutely spot on. In fact, there is one shop here and the storeowner is so nice that I really go out of my way to support him, whether it means paying a few bucks more than I could get it elsewhere (or online), or waiting for him to get stuff in that he's currently out of stock on, etc, etc. I think many people, like myself, are very loyal to the shops they feel treat them right.

  34. #34
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    Default Re: Is there a market for niche perfumes in a city of 1.000.000+ people?

    In the German speaking part of Central Europe, there's a niche market even for 15.000-20.000 inhabitant towns, and almost certainly in cities with over 200.000 inhabitants. Even in the non-German speaking world, over a million inhabitants would most likelz account for a sustainable niche market.
    Last edited by Ken_Russell; 13th October 2009 at 01:24 PM.

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    Default Re: Is there a market for niche perfumes in a city of 1.000.000+ people?

    I agree that McDonald's is not a great comparison point for a niche fragrance shop. What is? That is, what other businesses do well in towns with successful niche freragrance shops? Who are the ideal customers for a niche fragrance shop? Why do they want fragrances that are better, different, more interesting than the rest of the population buys at the equivalent of Macy's or Sephora?

    Maybe it's couture, since many perfumers are part of larger fashion houses - Chanel, Hermes, etc. But I was in Honolulu on vacation in March and saw Chanel and Bulgari and other boutique single designer stores. But all the perfumes we found were in the high end department stores. And the City Shopping Guides Discussion didn't lead to any niche shops in Hawaii. So maybe it's high end hair stylists or spas. If you can figure this out you can compare the number of these companion shops in Thessaloniki to New York, Dublin, Reykjavik or Puerto Banus.

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    Default Re: Is there a market for niche perfumes in a city of 1.000.000+ people?

    Tarzan,
    A friend with an MBA (Masters degree in Business Administration) thinks high end women's clothing shops might be the closest busineses to the one you want to start. You should look to see how many there are and where they are located. You could talk to the owners about how their business is going. Perhaps you could begin by renting space for a frangrance counter in one of these stores. It could give you time to build up your stock and provide contact with potential customers. Maybe it would require less financial committment than renting a whole store for yourself.

    Let us know if you do start the business. And good luck!

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