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  1. #1

    Default is fragrance a luxury good?

    This stems from a debate on the male fragrance board. The meaning of luxury varies somewhat by application. While fragrance can be listed as a luxury good due to the lack of physiological or safety needs addressed by these items, luxury also has a different connotation in discussion of price discrimination and social pecking order. There seems to be obfuscation in use at times, and I should have appropriately addressed what I knew would be a sticking point. While not the one who brought up Ferrari cars or Kiton clothing, I responded by stating that fragrance was not a luxury good on the whole, in light of such commentary and attempted parallels while one of the largest and least differentiated personal care corporations was being discussed. I still hold to that, as cars and clothing do not carry the social connotation of highly luxurious items in the first world. The identification of such brands, along with specific mentions of artisinal and independent perfumes, undermined the discussion on corporate-owned fragrance brands, which is hardly "luxurious" in its high availability and relatively low price.

    Kiton would be considered a high-end luxury clothing brand. Stafford at JC Penney would likely not, yet you can get a lounge suit made by either. A lounge suit itself could be considered a luxury item, but the real point is that there is a massive price difference along with a huge difference in perceived and measurable quality. To discuss the value provided by a Stafford suit by mentioning the build quality of a Kiton would be madness. Television is in no way required for survival. A 73 inch 3D set with 4K resolution would be considered relatively extravagant at this point in time. A 9 inch black & white set powered by D cell batteries and only receiving OTA analog signals would not. Yet, they are both televisions, an neither is required for day to day living. There exist a difference. Does this apply to personal fragrance?

    Is Axe body spray a luxury item in any context, or is there a difference depending on prior statements and the heart of the discussion? I believe this plays a key role in discussing fragrance, as apparently there are performance measures that do not correlate strictly with price, and there seems to be some confusion over the price and specific ingredients used, as they seem to appear in brands across the price continuum. Since there are dopplegangers of smell, at least to casual observers, does that make all fragrance luxury items because there can be, and at times is, little to no difference in performance and possibly even quality, despite price difference? Or, is there still a higher level of luxury with a measure of extravagance that cannot be ascribed to products produced copiously and continuously and competing in markets based on price? The idea of what is extravagance is based on the quality of life for specific cultures. Additionally, "luxury goods" are demanded more as income rises, with a finer distinction than normal and inferior goods. This apparently is not the case with fragrance, as fragranced items are available at the lowest price levels, and this is where the greatest amount of odorant chemicals are used.

  2. #2
    Dependent magnus611's Avatar
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    Default Re: is fragrance a luxury good?

    More like a decoration to embellish but I can understand how it can be perceive as an luxury good.
    "Thank GOD for the nose, for without it we would not be enjoying these beautiful created Scents" also Remember "Balance is everything and the key to appreciating "

  3. #3

    Default Re: is fragrance a luxury good?

    My head hurts reading that!

  4. #4
    hednic's Avatar
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    Default Re: is fragrance a luxury good?

    I view it as a luxury good but can understand and respect others who might not.
    Remember that while it is perfectly acceptable to criticize the content of a post - criticizing the poster is not.
    Mean spirited, nasty, snide, sarcastic, hateful, and rude individuals on Basenotes don't warrant or deserve other individuals' acknowledgement or respect.

  5. #5

    Default Re: is fragrance a luxury good?

    In my opinion: yes, but not necessarily due to the more obvious reasons. Strictly personally, associating luxury goods with certain amount of technical, even intellectual accomplishments, a certain brand image/set of corporate values, perhaps also a mood, a mindset, a sense of style and since fragrance fulfills most, if not all of these requirements, it is (in my opinion) quite certainly a luxury good.
    Currently wearing: Antaeus by Chanel

  6. #6
    Basenotes Institution sjg3839's Avatar
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    Default Re: is fragrance a luxury good?

    Aventus. Just Kidding with ya. Yes I think fragrances are luxury good. We don't necessarily need them. It's sort of a hobby. A hobby that we wear. More for self satisfaction (and the occasional compliments that come with it).

  7. #7

    Default Re: is fragrance a luxury good?

    Quote Originally Posted by hednic View Post
    I view it as a luxury good but can understand and respect others who might not.
    I agree... Not all fragrance is what I would call luxury.... There are many that do fall in this category....

  8. #8
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    Default Re: is fragrance a luxury good?

    Perfume/cologne is a luxury item

    You can live your life perfectly fine with a bar of soap and deodrant.

  9. #9

    Default Re: is fragrance a luxury good?

    Soap and deodorant are luxury items.

    You can live your life perfectly fine with rain/river water.

    This is my point, that sort of reduction doesn't adequately define luxury due to differences in living standards and personal choices. As well, soap and deodorant apply fragrance to the body unless they are fragrance-free formulations. Is this not a luxury item, because it is soap?

  10. #10

    Default Re: is fragrance a luxury good?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken_Russell View Post
    In my opinion: yes, but not necessarily due to the more obvious reasons. Strictly personally, associating luxury goods with certain amount of technical, even intellectual accomplishments, a certain brand image/set of corporate values, perhaps also a mood, a mindset, a sense of style and since fragrance fulfills most, if not all of these requirements, it is (in my opinion) quite certainly a luxury good.
    Well, this is sort of what I am getting at. How luxurious do you consider B&BW fragrances to be? Are body sprays luxurious, or are they utilitarian?

  11. #11

    Default Re: is fragrance a luxury good?

    Difficult to answer this- B&BW are, at least in part, quite well-regarded on BN, even though their price may be affordable, unexpectedly good comments about their quality were posted on certain threads. As with Axe, being readily and cheapily available virtually everywhere, this brand is (not necessarily in bad way) "victim of its own success". But even here, some of their discontinued body sprays, after shaves etc., especially from the 80s and 90s smell much less linear and generic than expected. If their longevity was better and their branding different, could almost compete with designer powerhouses in terms of well-made fragrance (the discontinued Cedar and Chypre variations for instance are a far cry from today's sweeter and more approachable scent notes- almost tempted to say that there are nearly two distinct worlds of Axe, based not just on price, branding alone, far more the actual scents).
    Currently wearing: Antaeus by Chanel

  12. #12
    Dependent caferacer's Avatar
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    Default Re: is fragrance a luxury good?

    It depends entirely how you define "luxury good". In business, advertising, and marketing speak, luxury goods are goods for which demand increases when income increases (vs. "goods of necessity" which applies to things like food). Given that definition, and recognizing that even sales at not necessarily luxurious places Bath and Body Works dip when income decreases, I'd say that yes, fragrances at all price points qualify as luxury goods.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: is fragrance a luxury good?

    'Luxury' as a concept originally centered on exclusivity has lost much much if its meaning over the years, with 'masstige' brands jostling for space with the more prestigious ones. The mighty credit card has made many things more accessible to consumers though not necessarily more affordable. Personally I don't really care for the distinction. Fragrance is just a fragrance.

  14. #14

    Default Re: is fragrance a luxury good?

    On a need versus want criteria - fragrance is under the want category. All of us here can & will live w/o fragrance if the need arises. So yes, it's a luxury imho.
    Currently wearing: Jules by Christian Dior

  15. #15

    Default Re: is fragrance a luxury good?

    Appreciate those responses. I do want to say I am not questioning the quality of ingredients or product safety of B&BW or most others, but do not believe there is much opulence associated with certain brands. It actually feeds into the idea, a luxurious smell does not have to reflect extravagance in the price relative to other goods. While consumption may go down in poorer economic times, I don't think that in and of itself makes it different from normal goods, not just luxury items. Food is a necessity, but there are normal and inferior foodstuffs, and consumption of each varies with income.

    I cannot and would not argue against the fact that the class of "luxury goods" includes fragrance, but I would argue that the extravagance and opulence intimated by mentioning Ferrari autos and Kiton suits does not apply to mass market fragrances, as Chevrolet and Men's Wearhouse could have just as easily been mentioned, but were not for fairly obvious reasons. There's some deodorant that I find projects and lasts at least as well as some colognes, and with a decent scent, imo. I don't find the idea of deodorant to be a luxury, nor do I believe that it is a need as opposed to a want. I also would not call Coty a luxury brand under certain circumstances, such as when Bugatti or Brioni might be the benchmarks. Really, personal fragrance came about for the same reasons as soap and deodorant, and the availability and affordability of fragrance also means it could be so much more commonly worn. It does not seem to be about luxury in an economic sense, but more about shifts in social acceptance. If I understand it correctly, fragrance is on a downward trend because it is now viewed in some places as rude an harmful to those allergic. Perhaps there is some trajectory shared with tobacco, which was opulent, then pedestrian, and now mostly avoided.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: is fragrance a luxury good?

    Yeah it's a luxury item by definition and by classification. Falls right next to watches and jewelry. Most of the brands are considered luxury brands. Go into a Hermes store and ask how much a leather wallet is.
    Last edited by silentrich; 12th August 2014 at 06:15 AM.

  17. #17

    Default Re: is fragrance a luxury good?

    Again with this ridiculous notion. Hey, Curve is a luxury brand, just check out the price of the Imperial Majesty edition of Clive Christian. Justin Bieber Someday at ~$40 a bottle broke some sort of sales record in 2011, so that must be the height of luxury.

  18. #18

    Default Re: is fragrance a luxury good?

    Fragrance as a product category is a luxury item, because it's bought with disposable income. Comparisons within the fragrance product category as to which is more luxurious is a completely different question, and is about 'feel', so is not at all objective (as the more seasoned BNers will tell newbies all the time, price does not equal quality).

  19. #19
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    Default Re: is fragrance a luxury good?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lomaniac View Post
    Again with this ridiculous notion. Hey, Curve is a luxury brand, just check out the price of the Imperial Majesty edition of Clive Christian. Justin Bieber Someday at ~$40 a bottle broke some sort of sales record in 2011, so that must be the height of luxury.
    It's unclear to me what your point is at this stage?

    Many household/utility non-luxury items are certainly fragranced.

    Personal perfume is not a necessity or a utility item therefore most consider it a luxury item but please do feel free to believe something else
    Last edited by lpp; 12th August 2014 at 08:18 AM.
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  20. #20

    Default Re: is fragrance a luxury good?

    Of course fragrance is a luxury item. It is not a necessity, it just brings some pleasure but it is not vital to life. You would not die if you had all your fragranced products removed, or had the fragrance removed from those products.

  21. #21

    Default Re: is fragrance a luxury good?

    sure!
    Currently wearing: Antaeus by Chanel

  22. #22

    Default Re: is fragrance a luxury good?

    Quote Originally Posted by lpp View Post
    It's unclear to me what your point is at this stage?
    I believe that is because the word luxury is being poised with multiple meanings.

    Everything is purchased with disposable income. Disposable income is what you have left over after taxes. That would make food a luxury item if disposable income use meant luxury. Underwear is not vital to life, which would make underwear a luxury item if anything beyond maintenance of basic biological function meant luxury. Not having toenails clippers would not lead to death, so toenail clippers would be a luxury item if anything not related to causes of mortality meant luxury.

    These are not categorized as luxury items because their consumption does not increase by a proportionately greater amount than other normal goods as income increases. They are not a sign of wealth above the average for their cultures. The US has the largest GDP on the planet, yet fragrance use does not have the same penetration as other countries with lower economic output. Also, I am unaware of any stats that show that countries with a higher per capita income use more fragrance per capita as well, but anyone please feel free to provide such. And the fact that fragrance absolutely is so cheap to manufacture and so readily available in so many products means that the presence of fragrance is not something that necessarily scales with income either. There are multiple blog posts and articles stating that it costs two to three dollars in raw materials to make the fragrance itself in a bottle. All the marketing to convince you that three dollars worth of product is luxurious is what leads to the extravagant pricing. That seems more gauche than luxurious.

    My point is that none of that deals with opulence or extravagance. Since fragrance is relatively affordable based on average household income and the availability of value-priced fragrance, then there is not a great deal of extravagance associated with the purchase and use of fragrance by default, as many would suggest. You can get "cheap" fragrance, including EDT or EDP concentration. And since this is available, then there is no necessary connection to opulence for the wearer. My point is that either luxury is painted with a very broad brush to include fragrance at all times for all discussions, or that the instances where opulence and extravagance are explicitly referenced, it is done so alongside fragrances that are not in any way shape or form similar in their price discrimination.

    Again, Ferrari cars, Kiton clothes, and now Hermes wallets have been mentioned. If fragrance on the whole was to be deemed a luxury item, then the appropriate examples of other product classes would reference the LOWER priced brands to reinforce the fact that it is the product class and not the premium brands that indicate luxury. Deferring to the high-end completely takes away the argument of need vs want and moves it right into the "overpriced" or "only affordable to the wealthy" position of thinking where fragrance adamantly represents extravagance and opulence.

    Food happens to not be a luxury item. But if I were to talk only of black truffle and Wagyu beef, you might think I was trying to argue differently, especially if up to that point the topic had been about Chili's. That is where this seems to be, as in a talk of L'Oreal products, Roja Dove and Andy Tauer simply had to be mentioned. Instead of talking about Ferrari fragrances, which is the relevant product category, quarter-million dollar cars were brought up instead. Same for Kiton, where their fragrance line got nary a mention, but somehow eight-thousand dollars suits are connected to L'Oreal's products. And while talking about Bath & Body Works, Hermes wallets at two grand a pop were mentioned instead of a camouflage pattern nylon number with velcro closure straight from Wal-Mart.

    Why?

  23. #23
    Dependent freewheelingvagabond's Avatar
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    Default Re: is fragrance a luxury good?

    Yes it definitely is a luxury good.
    Currently wearing: Grey Vetiver by Tom Ford

  24. #24
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    Default Re: is fragrance a luxury good?

    Absolutely it is. Why would anyone ever speak in terms of luxury goods or items unless they were speaking in terms consistent with the currently used economics definition of the term?... That is, a luxury item is one whose demand increases as disposable income increases. Nothing more, nothing less. What's the point in overthinking this?
    Last edited by DuNezDeBuzier; 13th August 2014 at 04:20 AM. Reason: esssesss
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  25. #25
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    Default Re: is fragrance a luxury good?

    Luxury

    2 a : something adding to pleasure or comfort but not absolutely necessary <one of life's luxuries>



    “Some people think luxury is the opposite of poverty. It is not. It is the opposite of vulgarity.”

    “Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury”

    "I love luxury. And luxury lies not in richness and ornateness but in the absence of vulgarity. Vulgarity is the ugliest word in our language. I stay in the game to fight it."
    -- Coco Chanel

    " Perfume is, among other things, the most portable form of intelligence."
    -- Luca Turin

    "Perfume is a love affair with one's self."
    -- Roja Dove

    "Luxury is something pretty and discreet. Luxury must not be something brash."
    -- Jean-Paul Guerlain

    "Chic is, first, when you don't have to prove you have money, either because you have a lot and it doesn't matter or because you don't have any and it doesn't matter. Chic is not aspirational....Chic is the most impossible thing to define. Luxury is a humorless thing, largely, and when humor happens in luxury it happens involuntarily. Chic is all about humor. Which means chis is about intelligence. And there has to be oddness - most luxury is conformist, and chic cannot be. Chic must be polite and not incommode others, but within that it can be as weird as it wants.
    --Luca Turin

    ____________


    "Perfume is a drug."
    -- pluran

  26. #26
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    Default Re: is fragrance a luxury good?

    It can be. It isn't necessarily.

  27. #27

    Default Re: is fragrance a luxury good?

    Quote Originally Posted by pluran View Post
    "I love luxury. And luxury lies not in richness and ornateness but in the absence of vulgarity. Vulgarity is the ugliest word in our language. I stay in the game to fight it."
    -- Coco Chanel

    "Luxury is something pretty and discreet. Luxury must not be something brash."
    -- Jean-Paul Guerlain

    "Chic is, first, when you don't have to prove you have money, either because you have a lot and it doesn't matter or because you don't have any and it doesn't matter. Chic is not aspirational....Chic is the most impossible thing to define. Luxury is a humorless thing, largely, and when humor happens in luxury it happens involuntarily. Chic is all about humor. Which means chis is about intelligence. And there has to be oddness - most luxury is conformist, and chic cannot be. Chic must be polite and not incommode others, but within that it can be as weird as it wants.
    --Luca Turin
    Awesome, thanks for those.

  28. #28

    Default Re: is fragrance a luxury good?

    Quote Originally Posted by DuNezDeBuzier View Post
    Why would anyone ever speak in terms of luxury goods or items unless they were speaking in terms consistent with the currently used economics definition of the term?
    Not sure, but perhaps for the same reason discretionary and disposable income get confused.

  29. #29

    Default Re: is fragrance a luxury good?

    Or:

    a foolish or worthless form of self-indulgence:
    "the luxury of self-pity."

  30. #30

    Default Re: is fragrance a luxury good?

    lol, well played

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