The Wall Street Journal contacted me last week for a short interview on perfumes. It was for a piece in their Market Watch section pertaining to the issue of refills. Not the Kilian sort of refill bottles but, specifically, Thierry Mugler‘s “Source” where you take your existing bottle of something like Womanity, go to the store, and refill it directly from a pump dispenser.
The journalist, Charles Passy, and I had a lovely chat about the industry as a whole, from the impact of celebrity fragrances on industry sales, the changing habits of women when it comes to having a signature scent, and what would be the benefit to Mugler in having the refill system at all. I talked about the pressure to stand out in the increasingly crowded market, and how little it cost Mugler to produce his fragrances on a mass-scale, such that the discount would be far outweighed by PR benefits and by standing out.
He asked me if I thought this trend would expand to other perfume houses. He isn’t a perfumista himself, so I explained the differences between the commercial sector inhabited by Mugler, and the niche world where fragrance prices average around $250 or more, going up to Roja Dove prices. Can you see Roja Dove offering to refill his $900 perfumes from a 4-pump dispenser? No, nor can I.
His article was published today, and a number of things that we talked about were covered. I was mentioned with a direct quote at the end. It was a fun experience as a whole, but being cited in the Wall Street Journal of all places is even more of a hoot:
Still, some industry observers wonder if a perfume brand tarnishes its image when it offers refills. The obvious reason: the concept takes a luxury good and turns it into a commodity. And it’s why a perfume blogger who goes by the moniker “Kafkaesque” doubts the trend will extend to super-pricey fragrances — as in those that run well beyond $200.
“They want to be seen as something luxurious. They don’t want the impression of a fountain drink,” says the blogger.
If you’re interested, you can read the article for yourselves:
How to save 40% on perfume or cologne: More fragrance brands offer refills — at big discounts off original bottle.