One of the luxuries that people often purchase is perfume.
The right perfume can completely change how people perceive you.
It allows you to leave a lasting impression and inspires certain feelings or ideas in those who encounter you.
However, luxury perfumes are hardly cheap.
The most expensive perfume, Shumukh, sells for $1.29 million.
Considering that all a perfume does is mask your scent, you may wonder what makes it so expensive.
Here are 10 reasons perfume is so expensive.
Why Is Perfume So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)
One of the reasons perfume is so expensive is that some scents use jasmine.
Jasmine is a rare ingredient and perfume makers need a lot of it to make perfume from it.
It takes around 240,000 Jasmine flowers to make one ounce of essential oil out of it.
One of the reasons Jasmine flowers are expensive is that they don’t grow well in many climates.
Unlike most flowers, which require a lot of sunlight and warmth, Jasmine actually prefers colder climates.
It needs a lower temperature to initiate its bloom.
It even prefers shaded areas rather than direct exposure to sunlight.
This means that only a few areas in the world can grow them well.
While there are several different species of Jasmine flowers, the ones that perfume makers tend to use are the hardier species.
These offer stronger aromas.
Jasmine flowers are also as expensive as they are because perfume makers have to handpick them.
This takes a lot of time and work.
Their specialists will inspect every flower and determine whether they provide enough of an aroma to use or not.
They also have specific requirements for the size, shape, and color of the flower.
Only the best are suitable for use in perfumes.
Because of the rarity and process of harvesting the flowers, Jasmine makes perfume more expensive.
2. Bulgarian Rose
Another rare ingredient that makes perfume expensive is Bulgarian Roses.
If your fragrance contains this ingredient, then you likely paid a lot for it.
That’s because the Bulgarian Rose comes from a single location in Bulgaria.
Called the Valley of Roses, the valley south of the Balkan Mountains has a long history of providing rose oil to empires.
Its history can be traced back to Ancient Persia.
Thracian Kingdoms housed within the valley found fortune in distilling the rose’s petals for potent fragrances and oils.
The oil that came from this valley had a reputation for being one of, if not the finest.
In ancient times, the distillation process only produced a small amount of oil at a time.
That made it incredibly rare and expensive.
The Industrial Revolution increased production with the invention of a new distillation process, but even still, the supply of Bulgarian Roses is always limited.
That’s because the roses can only be harvested in the month of May.
While the yield sometimes extends into June, in most cases, the very best flowers bloom in May.
This gives perfume makers a small window in which to claim their roses.
Even worse, it also takes a significant number of roses to produce one milligram of essential oil.
It takes 50,000 individual petals to make a milligram of essential oil.
That means it takes around 1,500 rose flowers.
While that’s fewer than Jasmine, perfume makers only have a month in which to collect enough petals to make their fragrances.
That ends up creating a frenzy in the valley for obtaining the best roses as quickly as possible.
The process of distilling the oil is also tiresome and costly.
Farmers have perfected this process over the years.
They also know that no one is getting any sleep when the harvest season begins.
That’s because they have to process the roses as fast as possible to get the most oil out of them.
These roses don’t generate a lot of oil if they’re picked in the afternoon, but
they yield the most oil in the morning hours.
This complicated process of creating rose oil combined with the rarity of the flower makes Bulgarian Roses expensive.
That also makes any fragrance using the ingredient expensive.
Perhaps one of the most expensive ingredients found in perfumes is Oud.
Although Oud has a popular following in the Middle East, Asia, and India, it was only recently that Western perfume makers have found its incredible scent.
Oud offers a woody scent that is wholly unique unto itself.
The reason that it’s so expensive is that it only comes from one specific place.
Oud comes from the Agar tree.
This tree is tropical and has 15 species linked to it.
Although it’s native to India, it has since grown to parts of Southeast Asia as well.
It isn’t simply the fact that Oud comes from these trees that makes it expensive, but rather that it comes from a specific process within the tree.
Some trees end up becoming infected by a mold called Phialophora parasitica.
When the mold infects the tree, it ends up creating a hard resin.
The resin is Oud.
It gives off a powerful yet pleasant scent.
The problem (or perhaps it’s a good thing) is that the mold only infects around 2% of the Agar tree population.
This becomes even more problematic when factoring in the fact that the Agar tree is also threatened.
That means there aren’t that many Agar trees around anymore.
Even worse, it means there are even fewer sources of Oud.
This creates an incredible scarcity for the ingredient that drives up its prices.
The wood itself is also expensive.
Many consider Oud to be liquid gold because of how expensive it is.
Some even claim that Oud is the most expensive essential oil in the world.
Besides its rarity, Oud is also difficult to produce.
To make the oil, experts have to carefully melt the resin.
While the resin isn’t toxic, if they burn it too hot, then they risk ruining or damaging the oil.
Meanwhile, if they don’t melt it enough, then they don’t obtain as efficient a yield.
The Oud market tends to rest around $6 billion.
While most perfume makers only need a few ounces of it, the producers of Oud regularly market three-gram bottles for $300 alone.
Thanks to its rarity and difficulty in processing, Oud is an expensive ingredient that makes perfume even more expensive.
While many perfume manufacturers have turned to synthetic forms of Ambergris, most of the expensive fragrances still use authentic Ambergris.
Ambergris is an expensive and rare ingredient found only in Sperm Whales.
For a long time, people were unsure where Ambergris came from.
Some speculated that it was simply hardened bird droppings.
When the Industrial Revolution kicked off and whaling increased, fishermen realized that the substance came from sperm whales and only sperm whales.
That’s because these types of whales have a diet of cephalopods like giant squids.
The beaks from those creatures form Ambergris in the whale’s intestines.
In most cases, the whale will vomit the beak and other elements of the squid out.
However, sometimes, the beak and those other parts end up in the whale’s stomach.
They harden there and compact together to form what we call Ambergris.
Researchers still aren’t sure how whales pass Ambergris.
Some believe that they vomit it out, which is often why Ambergris is also called whale vomit.
Others believe that Ambergris passes with fecal matter when a whale releases its waste.
Others adopt a grimmer belief.
They believe that the Ambergris grows larger and blocks the whale’s rectum.
Eventually, this causes the rectum to burst and kills the whale.
Although it’s still unclear how the majority of Ambergris ends up on beaches and the ocean floor, some can find Ambergris inside of killed sperm whales.
However, because whaling has undergone restrictive and serious regulation, the amount made available through fishing is extremely small.
That’s simply because not all sperm whales have Ambergris in their intestines at the time of their killing.
This results in Ambergris becoming one of the rarest substances in the world.
The reason that perfume makers like to use it in their fragrances is that it makes the fragrance last longer.
Many perfume wearers prefer fragrances that can last for hours, if not the entire day.
Not only does this give them their money’s worth, but it also means they can use less product.
The aroma of Ambergris is also unique.
Thanks to its scarcity, the price for the substance is extremely high.
Any fragrance that still uses authentic Ambergris in it is going to carry a high price.
Perhaps one of the rarest ingredients used in perfumes is Orris.
This scent comes from the root of the Iris flower.
It also only comes from one type of Iris flower.
The Iris flower is from Tuscany where it’s sold for prices that are sometimes higher than gold.
Orris, which gets its name from the root of the flower, combines several different scents together.
It has a combination of aromas like violet and raspberry and even pepper.
This unique scent had made it popular as far back as Ancient Rome and Greece.
One of the most famous producers of Orris is the Pruneti Farm.
This farm has been in operation for two centuries and still uses many of the same traditional processes that were used back in ancient times.
That’s simply because those methods yield the best oil.
The problem is that they’re also labor-intensive.
Like the Bulgarian Rose, the Iris flower only blooms in May.
This gives perfume makers a smaller window in which to find the perfect roots to make Orris.
They can’t choose Iris flowers that are young, either.
The flowers have to grow for four years before their roots can be harvested.
That allows time for the roots to grow strong and thick, making them yield more oil and more potent aromas.
Once they’re harvested, they have to sit out under the sun for some time.
This is when the root starts to build its famous aroma.
It also means that it’s subject to invasion by bugs and mold.
The farms must spend a lot of money to protect their yields.
Thanks to the rarity of the flower, the time it takes to make the best roots, and the labor-intensive process of farming them, Orris is an expensive ingredient.
That increases the price of any perfume that uses it in its fragrance.
6. Marketing Costs
Besides rare ingredients driving up the cost of perfume, the manufacturers also spend a considerable amount of money on marketing.
Perfume makers know that there’s a lot of competition in the industry.
To make their fragrance stand out and attract a following, they need to enlist A-list celebrities and polished marketing campaigns.
Hiring A-list celebrities to speak about your perfume isn’t cheap.
Ads aren’t cheap either.
Since many perfumers style their marketing to make their fragrances look like pieces of art or to make them appear that they’re as luxurious as wine, they spend a lot of money to sell that image.
This results in a lot of costs before any fragrance sells.
To ensure they’re able to make good on their investment, perfume makers put an expensive price tag on their perfumes.
Not only will this cover the cost of producing and marketing the fragrance, but it will also help them continue to market it in the future.
7. Bottle Production
Besides the fragrance, another important detail about perfumes is the bottle.
Many end up buying a fragrance for the beauty of the bottle rather than the scent of the product.
That’s because perfume makers know that certain bottles can become collector’s items.
Those collections can grow to be worth several million dollars.
To encourage fans to buy their bottles, perfume makers invest a lot of money into the design and manufacture of their bottles.
The most expensive perfume in the world, Shumukh, uses tons of diamonds in its bottle, for example.
Others will use gold or other gems to add value to the bottle itself.
Because the bottle becomes a work of art, the perfume also becomes more expensive.
Finally, perfume makers also have to ensure that even though the bottle looks beautiful, it’s still strong enough to keep the fragrance safe.
No one wants to buy a delicate bottle only to have it break on the way home.
This challenges perfume makers to invest in high-quality materials that not only look great but also protect the bottle’s contents.
The high cost of a fragrance bottle also adds to the expensive price tag on perfume.
Along with the design of the bottle, perfume makers also put a lot of thought into the overall packaging design for their fragrances.
Luxury perfumes don’t arrive in a simple cardboard box.
Perfume makers are aware that opening or unboxing a fragrance is an experience.
They want to ensure that experience is one their buyers won’t forget.
Because of that, they invest a lot of money into the packaging for their fragrances.
These boxes are sometimes made of expensive wood or other materials.
Sometimes they use velvet or silk to cushion the bottle inside the box.
Perfume makers will spend a lot of money to make wholly unique and incredible packaging for the fragrance.
Unfortunately, that also means that when you buy an expensive perfume, you’re also paying for the cost of the packaging.
While you can usually find big-market brands in almost every store, some fragrances are incredibly rare.
These “niche” fragrances only sell to certain stores.
They’re difficult to find and typically only produce a few bottles every year.
Niche fragrances are expensive because they’re made by professional, small-scale, perfume makers.
They often cater to a specific part of the market.
That said, because of their exclusivity, most perfume lovers tend to want them, too.
These perfume makers intentionally only produce a few bottles of their fragrance every year.
This scarcity drives up the price on its own, as does the mad dash to own a bottle.
Reselling the fragrance on the open market can increase the price even further with resellers asking double or triple the original price for rare bottles.
Because of their rarity and exclusivity, niche perfumes are expensive.
There’s no question that a brand also adds to the price of the perfume.
Some brands will always come with a high price tag.
Dior, Chanel, Guerlain, Louis Vuitton, and others have a reputation for creating fragrances that change society.
They set the standard for what professionals and elites should smell like.
Wearing any of those brands gives one a form of status.
Since a lot of people want that status, they’re willing to pay the higher price.
While consumers are certainly paying a high price because of bottling, manufacturing, and rare ingredients, they’re also paying for the brand.
Perfume is expensive because of rare ingredients, the cost of manufacturing the perfume, and the cost of marketing the fragrance.
Because they’ve established themselves as luxury perfume makers, some brands also come with a higher price tag right off the bat.
Luxury perfumes will always come with a luxury price tag.