During the cold winter, one of the nicest things to do for oneself is self-care—maybe involving a warm bath with a vanilla sugar body scrub, honeysuckle shower gel, and winter candy apple body lotion.
However, it is hard to justify buying these things when it is nearly $15 for just eight ounces of product.
The amazing selection of shower gels, hand sanitizers, soaps, moisturizers, and candles make Bath & Body Works products one of the most common gifts for the holiday season.
They sell gift sets that are sure to make anyone happy.
It can take a robust wallet to afford these special gifts, with prices up to $100 or more, so if it’s just body-care products, which can be found at your local supermarket for much less, why is it that Bath & Body Works so expensive?
It’s a longtime brand with a loyal customer base, generous return policy, and a fresh mix of new and classic scents.
There are a lot more reasons. Keep reading to find out.
Why Is Bath & Body Works So expensive? (Top 10 reasons)
1. The Brand And It’s Marketing
Bath & Body Works spends a lot of money on aesthetics.
Even though it has a lot of classics that stay the same year-round, the brand keeps things fresh with new labels to be consistent with holidays and seasons.
This is a well-known brand that has become synonymous with top-of-the-line body products and fragrances.
As a result, the brand has a value that extends beyond just the products in the bottles.
When customers buy Bath & Body Works, they are also buying a robust brand name and paying for marketers and graphic designers that keep the brand current.
Every year, Bath & Body Works retires some of its scents.
This is a way to ensure that people stock up on their favorites while they are available.
When these scents go into “retirement,” they are no longer available for purchase at the stores.
This is an ingenious marketing strategy.
Every few years, the brand brings some of these scents out of retirement for a limited time.
This draws loyal fragrance fans to the store to stock up again on their longtime favorites.
Since these scents are available for a limited time only, Bath & Body Works charges a lot of money for them.
In January 2019, the brand brought back many scents from its collections of the 1990s and 2000s.
Some of these scents included Pink Cashmere and Twilight Woods.
Not only does Bath & Body Works bring back old fragrances, but it also sometimes gives them a new-age, seasonal twist.
Since the company never reveals when these products will be back again, it charges a high price for these limited-edition items.
2. New Smells For The Seasons
One of the reasons Bed & Body Works is so popular is that it makes new scents to match the season.
During the holiday season, it offers fragrances such as Christmas Cookies, Fresh Sparkling Snow, and Vanilla Bean Noel.
These make great holiday presents, as they are great stocking stuffers.
Since these products are so popular at the change of the season, especially during Christmastime, Bath & Body Works can sell them at a high price—at least until after the holidays, when these products go on sale.
Some people wait all year for their winter seasonal scents to come back on the shelves.
3. Revolutionary Olfactory Science
Bath & Body Works tries to be at the forefront of the fragrance market and does so through an extensive customer testing process.
These tests are paid and therefore require a big budget that must be paid for from product revenue.
Bath & Body Works recently changed its policy to disallow testing on animals.
Since then, the company has had to invest in other methods of product testing, which require an increased budget for technology.
The brand needs to charge high prices for its products to pay for this policy change.
In 2006, Bath & Body Works created a new fragrance called Japanese Cherry Blossom.
The company describes it as a blend of cherry blossoms, pear, sandalwood, jasmine, and flower petals.
Little did they know it would become one of the most popular fragrances of all time in the United States.
Ten years later, Japanese Cherry Blossom was still its bestselling scent.
The scent is a constant at Bath & Body Works and has been sold as candles, hand soap, hand sanitizer, fragrance plug-ins, body lotion, shower gels, body mists, perfumes, and many more.
To date, more than 30 million Japanese Cherry Blossom products have been sold worldwide.
Given the high demand for this scent, the company charges high prices knowing that, regardless of the cost, the product is a classic that will continue to be sold.
4. Bold Scents
Customers don’t go to Bath & Body Works for a mild scent.
Since its founding, the company has reliably generated products with the ability to satisfy your senses.
Candles are densely packed with oils and three wicks with the ability to permeate scent throughout the home.
Bath & Body Works appeals to customers with a variety of fragrance preferences, based on food, places, feelings, textures, and fantasies.
There’s something for everyone at Bath & Body Works, and customers are sure to pay high prices for bold scents that match their magnitude of feeling.
5. Luxury Items
The sparkly body mist is unfortunately not considered an essential item.
The company knows that its products are mostly “treat yourself” and self-care purchases, which allows it to charge more money.
The brand also markets most of its products to women, knowing that women are statistically willing to spend more money on self-care products and are more sensitive to scents.
The “pink tax” is the theory that women are charged more money for products because of the stereotypical belief that women will pay more money for the same product than men will.
This is certainly true with Bath & Body Works, which charges high prices for its products, knowing that their mostly-female customer base is willing to pay for it.
6. Generous Return Policy
Unlike its rivals, Bath & Body Works accepts returns for its products in almost any condition, even if they’re used.
Since it cannot afford to simply throw these products away, the revenue loss is made up by the sale of its other products.
This affords the company the ability to take back unsellable items without incurring a large loss to profit.
One employee reported a customer coming in to return used loofahs.
The customer wanted to exchange them for new ones, saying that she did not like them, even though they had clearly been used.
This employee also mentioned customers coming in with fully melted candles to exchange them because they did not like the scent.
Store policy dictates that all returns and exchanges must be accepted, no matter the condition.
The store, therefore, must compensate for this loss in profit in other ways, such as selling its items at an above-average price point.
7. Smell Is The Strongest Sense
Of the five senses, smell is the strongest. It is also the most strongly associated with memory.
According to Ken Heilman, professor of neurology and health psychology at the University of Florida, smell is also heavily tied to emotions.
Bath & Body Works uses this to its advantage by creating a diverse range of products, one of which is bound to trigger nostalgia or happiness in every customer.
Knowing that scent has strong associations with the mind, Bath & Body Works is able to capitalize on this by selling its products at a high price.
Scientifically, all scents pass through the olfactory bulb, the part of the brain dedicated to processing scents.
The olfactory bulb is a component of the limbic system, which is the brain’s emotional system.
It is very near the amygdala, which focuses on emotional memories.
This is the main reason scents can immediately trigger memories and feelings of nostalgia.
When someone smells Bali Blue Surf at Bath & Body Works, they might think of a relaxing vacation.
Peach Bellini might remind someone of sharing a drink with a loved one.
It is hard to put a price on happy memories, so the ability to buy a candle for $25 that can remind people of one of their favorite times, can be worth the dollar amount.
The Vice President and Senior Perfumer of the Scent and Care Division North America, Patricia Bilodeau, works closely with Bath & Body Works to brainstorm and engineer new scents.
She was the brain behind one of the store’s first signature scents, Twisted Peppermint.
“This scent captures the nostalgic spirit of the holidays and I think that’s what people love about it,” she said.
It’s hard to put a price on that.
8. The Company Invests A Lot In Its “Look”
Bath & Body Works stores are often located in shopping malls, with hundreds of stores trying to sell things to a bunch of strangers, which can feel cold.
However, there is a unique feeling of comfort associated with walking into Bath & Body Works.
This comes from a large investment in the décor that makes it feel like home.
Before it became a standalone store, Bath & Body Works products were sold in Express.
It changed from being a chic body care brand to more of a cozy feel, even making up a name and story for a fictional founder called “Kate.”
Each store is supposed to feel like Kate’s house, with employees who make customers feel like family.
One employee shared that Kate grew up in the Midwestern United States and used local ingredients to craft unique fragrances.
She studied biology in college to master the science behind fragrances and then decided to open her own store, Bath & Body Works.
This wholesome image is part of what customers are purchasing when they buy a Bath & Body Works product.
9. Fragrance Is Timeless
These days, people are more interested in sustainability and less interested in the waste generated through fast fashion.
A fragrance is a one-time use product.
Unlike clothes, products that have been opened should not be gifted or resold.
Bath & Body Works is part of L. Brands, the conglomerate that owns Victoria’s Secret and PINK.
In recent years, apparel sales have dipped, and L Brands has had to sell off some of its other brands including Express, The Limited, and Henri Bendel.
Bath & Body Works consistently meets its sales goals since fragrance is timeless.
Despite changing trends and attitudes, good smells never go out of style.
Bath & Body Works is one of the leading fragrance retailers and charges a lot for its products, knowing that its inventory is timeless.
10. No Free Shipping
Unlike many stores that offer free shipping for purchases exceeding a certain price point, Bath & Body Works almost never offers this incentive.
This adds more money to a customer’s bottom line.
Even though free shipping coupons are available from time to time, they can’t be used on top of other promo codes on the website.
During the pandemic when people were more nervous about shopping in-store, this added another $5 to $8 to an already-expensive purchase.
One way to counteract Bath & Body Works’ lack of free shipping is to shop online and opt for in-store pick-up instead, for no additional charge.
Ways To Save At Bath & Body Works
Even though Bath & Body Works is expensive, there are ways to shop there without breaking the bank.
Here are some ways to save your money while still snagging the products you love.
1. Shop Sales
Though the full-price items may be expensive, Bath & Body Works has incredible sales that occur multiple times per year.
Products that were sold at $24.50 could go as low as $3.50.
If one of the products you want is seasonal or limited time only, there’s a good chance that it will go on sale in just a few weeks.
In fact, you can sign up for phone alerts or just keep checking the website to see what products are on sale.
2. Buy Products From Last Season
It is popular to change things up during the change of seasons, when people are looking to match the dynamic of their home to the changing weather and seasonal festivities.
A lot of the relevant scents currently are full-priced and expensive, but many of the products from the previous season can be 50–75% off and are, therefore, very reasonably priced.
While Bath & Body Works can certainly be expensive for their new and classic products, it also has a lot of inventory to be purchased at a very reasonable rate, if you’re willing to buy something from the previous season.
3. Sample Products In Store
Almost all of the products sold at Bath & Body Works offer tester items for customers to try before they buy.
If you’re not sure about a product, try the tester items to ensure that you really love a scent before you buy it.
This way, you can save money by only purchasing items you know you will enjoy.
4. Utilize The Return Policy
Bath & Body Works has a very generous return policy that allows customers to return used or damaged items, no questions asked.
If you buy a product but later decide that you don’t like it and it’s not worth the money, feel free to return it for your money back.
5. Join The Rewards Program
If you join the rewards program, you get instant access to coupons such as $10 off $30.
These can add up to incredible savings, and you’ll still be able to try the products you know and love.
You’ll also receive exclusive offers, coupons, and points that allow you to save on future purchases.
Bath & Body Works allows customers to redeem up to eight coupons per transaction.
When using these coupons on top of sales items, Bath & Body Works prices can be very reasonable.
Bath & Body Works certainly is expensive compared to products from discount stores like Marshalls and T.J. Maxx.
Everything is relative, though, and Bath & Body Works is cheap compared to places like Pier 1 where a three-wick candle costs $135, more than five times that of Bath & Body Works.
You could buy 1.7 ounces of Chanel No. 5 for $105 or 2.5 ounces of perfume from Bath & Body Works for $49.50.
Bath & Body Works is not a discount store.
The company charges so much because of its extensive marketing, rotating product selection, and generous store policies.
It has solidified itself as a leader in the fragrance market and is able to charge high prices for its products.