Spending on pleasing fragrances and scents continues to climb, according to suppliers. The trend is unaffected by higher gas prices or other factors that threaten to erode disposable dollars, because these products represent affordable luxuries, suppliers say.
Along with this popular trend comes product proliferation. Sir Markadoo, owner of Heavenly Body Products, Decatur, GA, encourages retailers to create their own private label line of fragrance products, in order, "to create and maintain exclusivity, loyalty and referrals," he says.
His company provides all the tools necessary to build a retailer's own brand and obtain much higher markups as a result. "Buy in bulk, and pour your own," he advises.
To illustrate the increase in margins that comes from pouring your own fragrance oils, he says his company typically wholesales a prepackaged roll-on unit of Heavenly Body Products body oil for $2 a unit. On orders of 100 pieces, the wholesale price drops to $1.50. Typically, the suggested retail price is $5, ensuring a nice margin.
However, for retailers that buy the company's body oil in bulk and also buy the empty roll-on containers and labels carrying their own brand, the wholesale cost can drop to as little as 75 or 85 cents a unit. The suggested retail price remains at $5.
"The retailer that buys in bulk and pours his own product saves a lot of money and makes a much higher margin," Sir Markadoo points out. "The consumer perception, however, is that the product is premium and exclusive, when it's really a bargain for the retailer."
Sir Markadoo also suggests that retailers include not only their own name and address on the label, but also their phone number. "That way, friends and relatives of the consumer who buys the product know who to buy it from. Having the phone number there brings in added referral business," he contends.
In addition to all of the components for private label fragrance oils, burning oils and air fresheners, Heavenly Body Products also offers displayers for a nominal price. There are units that hold 48, 72 and 144 counts, and they sell for $15 to $55 a displayer. All can be fitted with the retailer's own label, and can be replenished.
Heavenly Body carries approximately 550 different fragrances, and Markadoo maintains hot lists that keep retailers informed of what's selling best in particular demographics, in what seasons, and in which geographic locations. Aware that no retailer can carry everything, he suggests that they maintain a fragrance list of approximately 100 different scents.
"That way, the retailer can merchandise the list, test interest among consumers and tailor reorders even more carefully," Sir Markadoo reasons. "The store can also special order a fragrance for a customer. This takes the guess work out of reordering." Among the current best sellers, he says are, "Lick Me All Over," and various versions of designer type brands.
Save On Scents, based in Brooklyn, NY, also sells in bulk and supplies all the components for creating private label products, as well as its own prepackaged SilkSplash brands. All of its approximately 1,400 scents, including more than 700 designer duplication types, are offered in a choice of two different grades and three concentrations.
The grades are for different end uses, according to Elliott Gersowitz, operations manager. "One grade is for candle making, and the other is a cosmetics grade for body oils and other body products, such as soaps and lotions."
The different concentrations include SOS, which is a basic; "the starting point," and least expensive, according to Gersowitz. Next comes an Ultra concentration, which is 50 percent stronger and wholesales for 30 percent more, and Extreme, which is double or triple the SOS concentration, depending on the particular fragrance, and wholesale for 90 percent more than SOS product.
"The different concentrations," he explains, "allows retailers to provide different products and price points, depending on their own type of business and market location." He agrees that the designer type scents are among the most popular.
The company's website spells out in elaborate detail the wholesale pricing per pound of each fragrance and product type. It also delineates wholesale costs for all of the types of containers it provides for customers that want to pour and blend their own product.
In addition, Save On Scents provides complete mixing instructions, information on fragrance usage and fragrance blending, and incense making. It will also drop ship product. The private label program is particularly beneficial in competing with salon brands, Gersowitz says.
The SilkSplash brand also offers all of the company's fragrance and color options. Among these prepackaged units, ready for retailing off the shelf, are bath salts that wholesale for $2.43 a unit, perfumed fragrance roll-ons that wholesale for $2.40 a unit, shea balm that wholesales for $1.23 a unit, foaming body wash wholesaling for $1.35 a unit, bubble bath wholesaling for $1.35 a unit, and therapeutic massage oil that wholesales for $1.61 a unit.
Still another company that gives retailers options is Mystical Moments, in Clarksville, FL, which also operates Aroma Moments, which provides prepackaged incense sticks, cones and oils. Speaking of Mystical Moments, Gail Suggs, owner, says, "We offer several starter kits. We try to develop kits for all price ranges, so retailers can be comfortable from the start."
One wholesales for $86.95 and contains 12 packages of 100, 11 inch sticks each, a dozen brass inlay ash catchers, a dozen plain wood ash catchers and a package of 100, two by 12 inch zip lock bags. An incense display rack is also included.
An oil starter kit that wholesales for $79.50 comes in a displayer that holds 24 bottles and contains three units each of eight different fragrances. The retailer can choose from among the company's more than 1,000 fragrance options. Also in this kit are a dozen hanging air fresheners, in the retailer's choice of a sun, moon or cow skull design; a dozen brass lamp rings, a dozen eye droppers, and a package of 100 three by four inch zip lock bags.
At the other extreme, Mystical Moments will configure an entire department for a retailer. "Selling fragrances takes knowledge," Suggs says. "For example, retailers need to look at a person's skin pigment. Fruity scents typically are for lighter skinned people, while spicy scents are more complementary to darker skins. Florals, depending on the base, can be mixed for both skin colors."
Suggs encourages retailers to set up fragrance bars, at which they custom mix fragrances for consumers. "It always draws a lot of interest," Suggs says. Her company works personally with retailer customers to develop a starting mix for their own marketplace.
Mystical Moments also provides recipes and all the components, including bottles in various sizes and shapes, bags, squirt tops and eye droppers, to make exclusive merchandise. In addition, the company has developed a portable aroma therapy box with a glass top, so retailers can carry fragrances to events, fairs and home parties.
"When a retailer calls us, there is always a human voice at the other end of the line," Suggs says. "We take personal interest in helping our customers succeed." There is also a Spanish speaking person on staff.
New fragrances are always under development at Mystical Moments. Among the newest are, "Tooty Fruity Melon," "Quiet Realm," and several mixtures, such as mango ginger and eucalyptus thyme. There are fragrances for men and a children's line, and a new lingerie line has also been established. "It's an expansion for us," Suggs says, "designed specifically for lingerie shops and departments in stores."
Long-time incense specialist, GFD Imports, Oxford, OH, doing business as Wild Berry Incense Distribution, is always expanding its fragrances and merchandising kits for retailers. Owner Sydney Ferrario says that among the newer popular scents are root beer, copal (South American origins), pinon (from the Southwest), and pomegranate, which has rapidly risen on the fragrance popularity charts.
"We've developed new store signage," Ferrario says. "It's carried on the back of our displayers and also includes coordinated window banners and signs that hang from the ceiling." They signal that the store is a source for incense, and lead customers to the department or display.
While the company offers a starter kit for as little as $189, Ferrario says a larger kit that wholesales for $296 is the most popular. The smaller kit is a basic, he says, which holds 12 jars containing two bundles of 100 sticks, each of 12 fragrances. Bundles typically wholesale for $7, and generate approximately $17.50 at retail, giving the store a return of $10.50 per bundle.
The larger kit comes in a three tier oak display stand that is 24 inches wide, 24 inches high and 12 inches deep. It contains eight jars for two bundles each, 400 zip lock bags, and 18 wooden boat burners are included for free. The burners alone retail for $1.99 a unit, Ferrario says.
Among GFD Imports newest lines are shorties, which are four inch sticks. All of the company's incense comes with a 60 day, money back guarantee. "If a retailer doesn't sell more than 50 percent of an order within 60 days, they can return it, no questions asked," he says. He also adds that no retailer has ever taken advantage of this offer; proof that the product sells through quickly.
Acknowledging that different fragrances sell better than others in certain markets, Ferrario says GFD will tailor selections by area, and also provide signage that identifies the mix as appropriate for the store. "There's a Southwestern mix, for example," he says. "Because we track all orders and sales, we know what sells best where."
Summit Sensations, Grand Junction, CO, primarily supplies scented candles, offering a very extensive line of sizes and shapes, alone or in containers, in a choice of more than 80 fragrances. It also carries air fresheners and scented sachets. Owner Vicky Wallette agrees that consumer interest in fragrances and scents continues to rise unabated, and also that the demand for different scents varies by geography and by season.
"Different fruit scents sell best just ahead of the season for that fruit," she explains. "A couple of weeks before strawberry or raspberry season in a locale, consumers start asking for candles that apparently whet their appetite," she explains. "Lilac, however, is always in the top 10, and 'China Rain,' 'Hot Apple Pie,' the more exotic vanillas, and 'Ocean Mist' are also now on that list."
"Lavender picks up in fall, because it's a homey, comfort type fragrance," she adds, "and the cinnamon bun, Douglas fir and Christmas aromas are big sellers for the holidays. We can guide retailers in different locales to a mix that will do well in their market," she adds.
That includes not only advice on particular fragrances, but also on the right mix of product types for different stores. Chief among the company's products are three different sizes that come in studio jars. There are four, 14 and 20 ounce versions.
Pillar candles from Summit Sensations are offered in three by three, three by four and three by six sizes, followed by what Wallette calls, "our big bad boys."
Those include a 24 inch high candle with a diameter of more than four inches, and a 12 inch one with a six inch diameter. "These are really decorative accessories," she explains, and they provide 1,500 plus hours of burn time. That's enough to last six months, if they are burned every day, so people can have these in their home for years," she says.
The company requires a $200 minimum on the first order and $100 on reorders, and both can contain an assortment of product, although all come in a minimum quantity of four units of the same size and fragrance. "The wholesale prices are always 40 percent of retail value," she says, and retail prices are shown on the company's website.
The container candles typically retail at a starting price of $6 per unit. Retail pricing for the big bad boys ranges from $120 to $150 a unit. "These are not available everywhere," she notes, and says gift shops that carry them often build a clientele among interior designers looking for accessories.
"We take every new fragrance through a long testing period, to make sure it will sell and deliver the kind of lasting fragrance we want. We are constantly testing new formulations," Wallette says. Among the newest is Walnut Cream.
"Absolutely, retailers should have a candle burning in the store," she advises, "and we generally send a sample along with retailers' orders, so they can put one to use. The one that's burning in the store is almost always the one that sells best," she adds.
Unlike most air fresheners for cars, Wallette says her company offers three versions of card designs for use in cars, "and all last for up to 45 days." The scented sachets were designed for use in dresser and lingerie drawers, "at first in girlie, girlie designs and scents," she says.
Soon, the company determined that men like them, too, so it added units in brown and black for men in wooded scents, and others that appeal to men for use in their drawers and in cars. The sachets can also be opened and placed in a bowl, Wallette notes.
These savvy suppliers realize that they succeed when their retailer customers succeed. For example, Sir Markadoo often suggests that some of his retailer customers become wholesalers. "This transition is not for everyone," he concedes, "because it calls for a shift in mind set from selling to consumers to selling to business associates. Yet for the retailer that does want to grow exponentially, it's a great way to build a business."
Sir Markadoo offers an instructional DVD that shows how Heavenly Body Products made the transition. In addition, he hosts a live radio show every Tuesday night at 9 p.m. Eastern Time, called, "Let's Talk Business," in which he discusses winning business tactics.
It can be accessed over the Internet, via www.thesirmarkadooshow.com or www.tsms.com, or people can attend live, "where there's opportunity to network with others," he says. Information on attending can be found on the websites.
In addition to these suppliers' extensive and always growing lines of fragrances, each of them knows the most popular one for retailers is the sweet smell of success.
The following people at these companies were interviewed for this article:
Sydney Ferrario, owner
GFD Imports - Wild Berry Incense Distribution
P.O. Box 526
Oxford, OH 45056
Toll Free: 800-824-6521
Sir Markadoo, owner
Heavenly Body Products
2571 Park Central Blvd.
Decatur, GA 30035
Gail Suggs, owner
Mystical Moments, Aroma Moments
20387 Northwest State Road 73
Clarksville, FL 32430
Toll Free: 800-220-6712
Vicky Wallette, owner
591 25 Road, Ste. B3
Grand Junction, CO 81505
Toll Free: 866-484-2597
Elliott Gersowitz, operations manager
Save On Scents Inc.
279 Columbia Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231
Toll Free: 888-872-3687
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