Trying to learn how to start a perfume business online can either be easy or hard.
The hard way is to go at it alone. In this route, you can spend thousands of dollars and waste months of your time only for things to go south the moment you launch.
The easy way is to follow the proven strategies inside this article. In this route, you’ll be able to start a perfume business while on a budget, while also maximizing your chances of launching a successful brand.
So if you want to learn how to start a brand like Hugo Boss cologne…
Let’s get started.
Is The Perfume Business Profitable?
I’m just going to be straight up about it…
Perfumes are arguably one of the most profitable products in the world.
The reason is because creating the actual perfume liquid is ridiculously cheap and can be sold at an extremely high margin. For example, it may cost you just $5 to make a perfume that can be sold for $120. That kind of margin is almost unheard of, which is why almost every luxury brand has their own line of perfumes. The opportunity is wild.
However, there’s a caveat to this.
While the cost to create super high end perfume is cheap, the cost to market it is not. The reason is that fragrances are hard to translate online. It’s much harder to convince someone to buy a fragrance versus other types of products because they can’t smell it through their screens. It’s also a product that requires expensive packaging, which is critical because that’s what drives up the value of the perfume.
If you can overcome these problems, then it’s an amazing business to be in.
Some brands that are doing it well right now include Commodity, Phlur, and Hawthorne.
The Cost Of Starting A Perfume Business
The cost of starting a perfume business can vary wildly.
You have to take in consideration the type of cologne, quality of cologne, quantity of cologne, and more. Many of these things are going to come down with what manufacturers you decide to partner with and what you’re trying to do.
Overall though, you can expect to spend anywhere between $1,000-$15,000.
This pricing includes solid cologne, which you will be on the lower end of the estimate. Liquid cologne will naturally be on the higher end. This is also with average packaging costs. For more expensive packaging, you can expect to be in the top 10% of that range, if not more.
With that said, perfume is a business where you can start homemade first.
If you decide to go the handmade route, you can get started with less than $100 for solid cologne and less than $250 with liquid cologne. This includes average packaging. Again, if you decide to go with premium packaging from the start, you’ll need to spend much more.
None of these estimates include marketing costs.
Homemade Perfume Business Ideas
Perfumes are one of the best home businesses you can start because compared to other types of handmade products, perfumes are actually one of the simplest to make. It’s also a very subjective business as there are so many scents you can make, meaning there is room for lots of different business ideas.
With that said, it all starts with the basics.
Do you want to start with solid cologne or liquid cologne?
Do you want to target men, women, or be unisex?
And do you want to be affordable to most people or be ultra luxury?
Answering the different questions above will serve as the foundation for whatever homemade perfume business ideas you may have. With that said, the most important thing for you to focus on will be the actual scent of the perfume. There has to be a strong reason why someone will buy your perfume versus everyone else’s.
This is why the best homemade perfume business ideas are based on fragrance.
Why can’t you build an entire brand that just sells spicy scents?
Why can’t you build an entire brand that sells perfumes made from exclusive ingredients?
Why can’t you build an entire brand that specializes in perfumes for dates?
By focusing your entire perfume brand into a category like the ones above, you’re going to build a much more efficient business. Best of all, it can be done all from home.
How To Sell Perfume From Home
Selling perfume from home is not complicated, but not easy either.
The best way to sell perfume from home is to sell it online. This is primarily done in 3 ways including owned, earned, and paid media.
Owned media is anything type of media you own.
Examples include growing your website through SEO, growing you email newsletter, growing your own SMS list, and acquiring people’s physical addresses for direct mail.
Earned media is any type of media from third parties.
This is primarily going to mean any type of PR coverage such as being featured in Forbes. I would also include any type of guest appearance, having an influencer talk about your products, and even getting social shares.
Paid media is any type of media from paid sources
For most people, this is going to mean Facebook and Instagram ads. However, don’t forget other niche sources such as buying newsletter sponsorships or paying to appear 1st on an affiliate website.
The best strategy in all cases though is to focus on a mix of the three. Ideally, you would start with owned media to launch your perfume business. Then leverage your product and results to get earned media to continue making good profit margins. Then after you have sales data and social proof, leverage both to create high converting ads from the get-go.
The Ultimate Perfume Business Plan
If you really want to learn how to start a perfume business online, this is the action plan I would follow…
1/ Focus my perfume line to specialize on one particular type of fragrance. Ideally, this scent would also be made from a special, exclusive ingredient. This way, it becomes really easy to sell as you would be different from all other alternatives. It also makes it much more likely for customers to come back and buy more, assuming customers like your scent.
2/ I would start a men’s style media company. For example, a blog that reviews men’s care products or a TikTok that teaches men’s style. Either way, I would want to spend at least 6 months doing everything I can to build a small, but loyal audience. Then 2 months before launch, I would direct them all to a pre-launch newsletter.
3/ I would launch version 1 of the first fragrance. This perfume would be promoted through all of my own channels. This includes through the pre-launch newsletter, any social media channels, and the Shopify store. For practical reasons, I’d cut it off by having a limited inventory. Then I would repeat for up to 3 rounds to make it more manageable.
4/ Then, I would try to get as much PR as possible. I would come up with a Dream 100 list of reporters, social media influencers, and bloggers/newsletters. Then I would send them all free perfumes so they can cover it on their media channels. By the end of it all, I would want to have not just sales, but logos to promote and reviews you can promote through ads.
5/ Next, I would launch 2-3 more scents along with a trial pack. Of course, this is only if your budget allows. But before you turn on paid ads, you will ideally have a trial pack because it will be the biggest objection you have. If not, you can wait until you do have the budget for it. Whenever that happens, do it.
6/ Start running paid ads to your trial pack or best selling scent. You want to leverage everything you’ve done in the prior steps in these ads. For example, you want to run ads that feature all the publications your perfume has been on. If you have UGC content from influencers, run those as ads too. So on and so forth.
7/ Eventually, look into Amazon. Here is where you want to focus on selling your trial pack as well as the full perfumes those trial packs feature. Stay away from selling your core or limited edition scents. Keep those for your own branded Shopify store.