Niche Perfumery What is Niche Perfumery?

What is Niche Perfumery?

12/03/07 13:40:49 (25 comments)

by: Elena Knezhevich

Thinking about the notion of niche perfumery, we have done some research on that branch of perfume production.

Niche perfumery is an alternative to mass perfume production. Niche is limited by the clientele and therefore with a limited sale range, thus the goal of niche houses is not to sell as much as possible.

Art and creativity is in first place in niche perfumery, and as it applies to any other kind of arts, there is a possibility that a niche perfume creation will not be recognized and accepted. However, regardless of the risk, niche houses are appearing just like mushrooms after the rain because people, tired of mass perfume production, wish to have an uncommon and, if possible, personal fragrance. And so it seems that the trend today is to oppose the trend. And one more thing: we should bear in mind that the creation impetus of the artists-perfumers is one of the main reasons for establishment of their own perfume houses.

Some niche houses are more popular than the others and have no need to balance between the art and profit. Some of those are the houses of Annick Goutal, L'Artisan Parfumeur, Serge Lutens, Jo Malone, Acqua di Parma, etc. Some houses stand out even more and create their own niche within the niche perfumery. They differ from others by:

Niche houses are so diverse and it is very hard to categorize them and sometimes even to define the olfactive groups of their creations. However, there are several basic principles that the niche houses adhere to in order to resist mass (luxury) perfumery:

Niche houses tend to have their own perfumer in charge of the fragrances of the house, just like it was in former days.
Niche houses have a selective approach to the distribution of their products. The fragrances of niche houses can almost never be seen in shops that sell mass fragrance production products, or in big department store chains.
Niche houses do not recognize advertising, apart from, perhaps, magazine articles and interviews in prominent media. For them, the best ad is their good reputation.

See news and stories on niche perfumery
See interviews with founders of niche houses

Author: Elena Knežević (jeca)
Fragrantica Member



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sistermoon
sistermoon

I really like the idea of more independent and creative companies. But some of these "niche" brands could do more to make their products accessible for those of us on a tight budget, for instance offer smaller bottles. So many niche fragrances are offered only in 100 ml bottles. Niche brands are hard to find in stores, so why not always offer samples? Some brands do, but many don't. And samples shouldn't cost as much as some full bottle drugstore fragrances. Yes, perfume is a luxury, but this is why sampling is extremely important.

Also, some of these brands could be more clear about the philosophy of the company. If we are paying double or more, it would be nice to know that the practices we are supporting are not cruel to animals or the environment, or people in developing countries. I realise that many of these brands are one-man/woman business, but they should be more informative about where the ingredients come from, how they are harvested, how are the workers treated, and so on... Work harder on acquiring trusted and recognisable certifications, such as fair trade, soil association, leaping bunny and so on. Make it worthwhile for the consumer to spend that extra cash... That's my 2 cent.

May
09
2013
kenney77
kenney77

Thanks for the article now I know what niche means it makes it cool to know about this thank you

May
09
2013
BelleBeryl
BelleBeryl

Very interesting and informative article, thanks.

May
09
2013
mirian@uol.com.br
mirian@uol.com.br

Hi, almondbreakfast!
I just loved all your words to describe about NICHE...
The best in the top ten "it is not made for everybody" is very funny, realistic and full of good mood/humor ! Ha..ha.. Great!
Regards,
Mirian
São Paulo-SP

Jan
05
2013
almondbreakfast
almondbreakfast

Hi Elena,

Thanks for having brought up such an interesting topic for discussion. Long before I was acquanited with niche perfumery, I couldn't care less about what it is. I was happy with my Clinique, Estee Lauder, Gucci, Issey Miyake, etc. Don't get me wrong, some designer frags are even better in quality than niches.

But after I got my first niche, Acqua di Parma Colonia, I was instantly hooked by its presentation and quality. First, the ribbon, the paper wrapping, the packaging, and the juice itself.

Now, I am trying to get rid of all my designer frags, except my few favourites. I love them, but with niche perfumery, now I learn and see the core and essence of a fragrance, the art of perfumery.

Here are a few simple bullet points that can be easily spotted to determine whether one fragrance falls into the niche category:

1. Pricing
It's not an absolute benchmark, but if it's +/- USD150 (per 15ml/30ml/50ml/100ml) and above, it is most probably a "niche".

2. Popularity
If you asked 20 people, and only 1-3 have heard of its name, it's probably a "niche." Hahaha....

3. Rarity & Exclusivity
The less the availability of a perfume, the more "niche" it is. It's only made for a certain audience, including "specially-made-to-order" fragrances.

4. Bottle design
If you browse through their collection on Fragrantica, you won't see a bunch of different bottle designs like those in designer fragrance houses. This is to make a statement and for instant brand recognition purpose, and also to avoid the high costs of producing different elaborate bottles for each different fragrance.

5. Packaging
This is one of the most exciting things for me everytime I open the box of a niche fragrance. It's like a ritual. The packaging is the dress of a fragrance; its blanket, its cardigan, whether it's cashmere, leather or nylon. The most important thing is that it should capture the life of its product, even if it's only made of thin paper.

6. Alcohol
This will involve our olfactory sense and skin sensitivity. The more "niche" or concentrated it is, the smoother and softer the smell of the alcohol and some take longer to dry (esp. those with higher concentration oils).

7. Marketing
You'll most probably only see them mentioned in the editorial pages of a magazine, definitely not in the first few page of a magazine, let alone double-page ads with supermodel/celebrity posing for it, cause most niches just don't have the budget. But one certain thing is also, because they don't need to impress those who can easily be tricked into worshiping the models/celebrities. Tell me, are you one of them? Hahahaa... The good news is, you're not alone : )

8. Perfumer
Most houses have a certain appointed perfumers for its line. In most cases, the perfumer himself/herself is the creator of the brand, but not necessarily so. If a niche house works with, say, 10 perfumers (MDCI, L'artisan, etc.), they are usually of the same callibre. They're class A, but there's always some new comers, indie perfumers (you may call them Class C or D), and they also love to consider/call themselves as a "niche" house, but don't we? If I were one of them, I'd call myself a niche perfumer too, that just sounds so "Harvard" or "Ivy League".

But like I said, some class A actors also make bad movies, and some class D artists should deserve more credits. Once you start collecting niches, you can't help but putting them into Class A Class C categories without even realizing it. It's one of the guilty pleasures in collecting perfumes. You think the only guilty pleasure is spending all your money on perfumes? Think again, we can be meaner than that! Aren't you happy when your collection is better than the others's? Don't you just want to show off sometimes when you buy a niche frag? And you smile at the back of your mind when they're still speaking Lacoste language and suddenly you're dropping "Lutens?" Oh, please admit it! That's how evil we are...

... and 10 minutes later you realize "Damn, this $200 EDT smells like sh**!" Well, that's called entertainment fee, some artists still need to get paid, and not all movies are blockbusters. And that's when you start swapping, selling decants like sharing popcorns, making them enjoy the movie so they're buying it!

It always makes me laugh seeing others make a wrong purchase, big hahahaaa... Cos I did and nobody stopped me!!! So, you should pay for your own lessons too. Remember, those artists need to make new arts & movies, and when they stop, it's not fun anymore. So somebody needs to pay.

9. Ingredients
Needless to say, the quality of a product speaks for itself. In most cases, it usually uses high quality natural ingredients/essential oils. And you can ctrl+F and type "rare". It has to appear at least once in the description or reviews, or try "expensive"... Hahaha... But seriously, For God's sake, IT JUST HAS TO BE !!!

10. Fan Base
A niche house usually has its own fan base or audience. It's not made to appeal mass market, hence some of its scents are very "niche" or different from public's general expectation. Afterall, the best things in life are only meant for the most special few who know how to appreciate it. In other words, "It's not made for everybody."

-Mr. Almond-

Jan
05
2013
swim_fatale
swim_fatale

Short but very interesting and informative. I'm new to the world of fragrances and was clueless as to what a "niche perfume" was! Thanks for this! :)

Jan
05
2013
paulina
paulina

Thank you for the article, very informative :)

Sep
02
2012
khalid_shehab
khalid_shehab

Thank you very much JECA,very helpful article.

Aug
08
2012
nttkit
nttkit

Thank you for sharing. I am learning about perfume and from this article, I have gained a lot of helpful information. Thanks Elena & others.

Jul
01
2011
alexandra.07
alexandra.07

Thanks for the article. It's wonderful and useful information!

Jun
02
2011
zoka
zoka

Number of 'doors' is an interesting measure that tells you something about a brand. This article is from 2007 and at that time the Fragrance Foundation awarded NOUVEAU NICHE WOMEN’S: Kenzo KenzoAmour. Obviously at that time they did not count 'doors' and also they had a little bit of a different perception of niche then today. Another thing: How do they count doors? Is Nordstrom 1 or 118 doors? What about Macy's, Neiman Marcus - to how many doors do they and all the other other infinite chains of beauty stores add up?

The other approach is something what guys from Esxence did. They have a 5 members committee to judge all submissions; are they acceptable as a 'niche perfume house' or as they would like to say 'fine artistic perfumery'. Personally, I love Esxence but no jury is perfect. And not everybody applied to be present at Esxence so you can't say that it's not niche perfumery when it was not present at Esxence.

With all due respect to Fragrance Foundation and Esxence, I think that we cannot ask them what is and what is not 'niche perfumery' but as Elena pointed out in this article it is something we can conclude based on many different facts and it is still a subjective perception. For me, for example, Guerlain, Acqua di Parma will always be 'niche' even if they are not owned by owner and they sell it behind thousands of doors...

Apr
25
2011
memechose
memechose

niche nicher nichest. now with so many its measured by the amount of doors... as per the Fragranace foundation :0)

Apr
24
2011
naheed
naheed

This is very informative. Before I only knew the term niche houses but they actually differ from one another on the basis of the ingredients.

Thank you Jeca!

Apr
24
2011
Angel10
Angel10

I had no idea that so many 'criteria' were involved in the classification of Niche Perfumery.

I grow more and more each day, and understand more and more the art, passion, sensory perception, and even morals and standards involved in this fine art & craft.

Thank you so much Elena for sharing this with us!

The goal is always to sell, but many niche perfumeries differ in that they will NEVER sacrifice quality materials (or perfumers!) for profit.

Great stuff.

Apr
24
2011
Tigerlillian
Tigerlillian

Nice! Thank you so much.

Apr
23
2011
systeme_d
systeme_d

Well done.

Apr
23
2011
icicle
icicle

great article!i just can add that the primecost of niche fragrances is much higher than the mass perfume's primecost.so,niche houses can afford using of expensive and rare notes in their fragrances instead of spending the same money on ads and bottle design.

Apr
06
2011
Marlies
Marlies

Thanx for the article, i thought niche was knock off, i'm from holland and didn't know the word.
So now i've learned it's quite the opposite!

Apr
05
2011
Juliette has a gun
Juliette has a gun

Brilliant - you said it all in a nutshell. Very useful when it comes to defining the notion of "niche" vs "mainstream".
Just one thought: I am afraid that even niche-houses are (amongst many other noble aims) out there in order to make money. So I wouldn't agree with the idea that their goal is "NOT to sell as much as possible" (citing from your article).
The commercial aspect is present in the structure of any perfume company, no matter if they are "niche" or not.

Apr
05
2011
JazzBirdSinger
JazzBirdSinger

informative article. not sure what niche was and now i have a much better
understanding. i will like to look more into this type of perfumery...i have not smelled anything from these houses listed....thank you elena!

Apr
04
2011
icontreras
icontreras

Very useful article! Today I asked in a post about niche perfumery since I didn't understand the concept...
I have not seen this article. Much more clear now!

Apr
04
2011
stoian claudia
stoian claudia

Thank you for this useful information .

Apr
04
2011
ducktuck
ducktuck

Thank you so much! This was really helpful. I have been in the dark and now have the full spectrum of niche.

Apr
03
2011
Shalimar
Shalimar

Elena,

Thank you for a very interesting and informative article about niche perfumes.
It sounds like something that I would like to explore in more depth now that you have sparked my interest.

I learn something new on this site everyday!

CB

Sep
03
2009
mariotgomez
mariotgomez

Elena,

This article was brought into reference in a group "What is "Niche Perfumery"

It is always nice to refresh yourself with why a fragrance house may be niche.

Thank you for the article.
Mario

Aug
30
2009

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