Dirty Shades of Grey – Tackling the shady side of perfumery

The grey market is a topic I have written about before. Regrettably, it’s also something that just refuses to go away, meaning that it’s time to take a closer look at the shady side of the perfume business. With our perfume artworks – which some people call niche perfumery – we are increasingly facing a massive wave of grey market goods on a scale that is severely damaging for our business. These grey market products include:

– Cheap re-imports, i.e. originals where the best – before date has usually expired. In violation of distribution agreements, these products are being brought into our sales region by other distributors. Their fate is to be flogged off like the cheapest mass-market scents.
– Stolen goods.
– Counterfeit products from the Middle East and Asia.

So how do you tell the good apples from the bad? Well, we’ve just made the task of distinguishing between authorised distributors and the grey market a whole lot easier with our new database, which allows customers and consumers to search for authorised retailers. The database also lists the black sheep – the sellers who are sabotaging our business. We’ll be updating this list continually as we receive new information, so be sure to check back regularly!  
One brand that is particularly affected by the grey market is Escentric Molecules, a label that has enjoyed a meteoric rise in the world of fine perfumery. Unfortunately, the downside of the brand’s fame and popularity are cheap reimports and fakes.
will be a brand has worked hard to establish the perfumes we represent as exclusive products: We want will be a brand perfumery art to remain something precious, and not become mass-market products (which is one reason we are so careful in selecting our points of sale). Products that are very scarce are also usually highly sought-after – this underlying fact has caused the grey market to flourish.

As a result, the grey market is seriously threatening our business. It is endangering the reputation of a fantastic brand. It tricks consumers, because a fragrance that is past its best-by date needs to be reapplied more often, the bottle is empty faster and ultimately, can end up being more expensive than buying the original. Quite apart from that, the grey market poses a potential threat to consumers in several ways. Not only is it illegal to buy stolen goods (and, under certain circumstances, also counterfeit products), cheap copies are highly unlikely to be laboratory tested. But then, what does consumer health matter if you can make a quick profit?
Let me put this in a nutshell: fragrances where retailers and consumers can be sure of authenticity, quality and product safety always come from an authorised distributor, like will be a brand.
There’s another point I wish to emphasise: our work doesn’t just involve distributing perfume artworks and exclusive brands. We are responsible for establishing these brands and building them up. We select the right sales channels, we organise training events and promotions. We are second to none in our profound knowledge of the segment, and we support, inform and assist our partners in the POS. Good service doesn’t come for free … which is an aspect that is included in the (higher) price!
There are many very good reasons to avoid luxury fragrances that are obviously TOO cheap. The fact that ultimately someone is going to pay the price – either through forfeiting their credibility, their health or their business – is at the top of the list.

The grey market completely lacks transparency and it is very difficult to contain it. The only people who can succeed in doing this in the long term are honest, authorised retailers – and consumers.

Things could be so easy…