As a new company in the perfume industry I have found that the most difficult obstacle to overcome on with social media marketing has been the issue of trust. It is hard enough for any business to establish trust of a new product - or even trust of a new website - due to the scams that are out there today. But with the inspiration perfume industry, I find the stigma of bad quality products even harder to overcome.
Where does the stigma come from? Although I find that there are far more quality inspiration perfume companies in the South African market at the moment than there used to be (Arlex Fragrances, Perfume Gallery, Sunbird Perfumes, Inuka and, of course, KITA Fragrances to name a few), there are still those companies and informal vendors that sell a product that "smells like turps" or "smells great when I put it on but then disappears in a couple of hours". These are the companies and vendors who give the rest of us the challenge of having to prove our product before anyone will go near it. This is easily done if someone comes into the store or the product is at a market and they can spray some on, walk around and come back to you a few hours later knowing their product still smells amazing and has not evaporated within the last hour. But it is a little more difficult online - the best we can do here is offer a money-back guarantee on the quality and some reviews from past customers. Unfortunately most people still don't trust a money-back guarantee (although with the consumer act it is a little tricky to try and get away with not living up to it) and a very small percentage of customers like to leave reviews.
Why are some inspiration fragrances better than others? This is a very simple answer - the ingredients used are different. As with most things in life there are cheap and nasty ingredients and there are quality ingredients. That is not to say that the more expensive the inspiration perfume, the better the quality of fragrance in the bottle. There are a lot more costs involved in a finished product than the perfume itself, including the bottle and marketing. I have gone into a little more detail about these in my review on "Odour - the documentary the perfume industry does not want you to know".
The three main causes of the inferior quality inspiration perfumes are low quality ethanol, low percentage fragrance oil and low quality fragrance oil. The easiest one for you as a customer to notice would be the low percentage of fragrance oil - the lower the percentage the less fragrance the product will give off for the smaller amount of time. If you have the opportunity to smell the product you will notice this immediately. If not, ask the company what percentage fragrance oil is in their product. The higher the percentage, the stronger the product and the longer it will last on your skin. An EDT normally has up to 15% fragrance oil and an EDP is normally between 16 - 25% fragrance oil. Anything over 16% should last a long time. Low quality ethanol takes a little longer to notice but when you notice it, you will notice! The ethanol (alcohol) used in perfume should be 96% or absolute ethanol grade. Anything below that will give it a bit of a turps or nail polish remover smell. I don't care how little you paid for that perfume - that is not what you paid for. Lastly, poor quality fragrance oil will also affect the quality of your perfume but this may take longer to notice. With a low quality perfume oil the initial fragrance will smell spot on because the top notes will be right on target, however during the course of the day you may notice that the fragrance does not last or it no longer smells the same as its inspiration. That is because the middle and base notes are not quite what they should be and these are the notes that take the longest to evapourate so they are what you are left with when the top notes are gone. Unfortunately the only way to tell if this is the case with an inspirational fragrance is to give it a try. I would advise that if the company does not have a guarantee or cannot be easily found again perhaps ask for a sample first and go from there - otherwise look for a company that has a few reviews on their page and offers a money-back guarantee on their products. (And for those of you who do have your favourite inspiration fragrance supplier - please take the time to rate their products or website so others can enjoy their perfumes too.)
I hope that this blog gives you as the customer some info on where to begin and what to ask your potential brands so that you can make sure you spend your hard-earned money on a quality product. There are quite a few legitimate inspiration perfume companies out there that will give you the quality you deserve at a price you can afford. My goal is to get rid of the stigma associated with inspiration fragrances by giving our customers all the information to make informed decisions leading them away from low-quality products and towards the great-quality product (like ours ;-)) that are available today.