With enhanced purchasing power, different types of upmarket products, including perfumes, have started finding a place in the buyer Is list, especially in metropolitan cities.
Despite the absence of any official statistics, industry insiders believe that the market for perfumes in the country is now worth over Tk. 100 crore.
Rich people are not the sole customers in this market anymore. People from middle-income households and students are also opting for expensive perfumes these days.
Meet Sabik Rashid, a student of the computer science department of North South University (NSU), who does not mind spending around Tk. 6,000 for a small bottle of ’Issey Miyake’.
Sabik earns his pocket money by giving tuition to some ’O’ level students. “I earn around Tk. 10,000-12,000 a month,” he said.
When asked why he spends more than half of his income on perfumes, Sabik said: “I don’t see perfume as a luxury product. It’s an essential item. I don’t spend a lot of money on clothes or gadgets. I love good fragrance, which is my style rather than wearing a designer cloth.”
" I believe the fragrance of this brand defines me,” he added.
Nihad Ferdous, a banker, also believes that part of ’defining oneself’ is an important part of using luxury fragrance.
“I used to buy body-sprays whose price range was between Tk. 300 and Tk. 500. But the fragrance of those wear out soon. Besides, cheap body-sprays cause itching,” he said.
“It’s very hard to stay fresh during the long hours in the workplace," he also said.
"I have to deal with a lot of corporate clients and thus it’s important to manitain a cool image. Smelling good is really important. So, I have started spending money on buying branded perfumes. The fragrance lasts for almost a day and it makes me confident,” he added.
An expanding market
Al Haramain Perfumes Pvt Ltd is currently the only franchise perfume shop in the country. It has a presence in over 60 countries around the globe.
This brand opened a showroom in Bangladesh only a few years ago. It has quickly expanded its business by opening four showrooms in Dhaka city alone.
Al Haramain is the brainchild of Mohammed Mahtabur Rahman (Nasir), a Bangladeshi expat from Sylhet who expanded his family’s perfume business from Makkah to the UAE during the early 80s. He has made Al Haramain one of the biggest names in the global perfume industry.
The company produces a wide range of top-quality fragrance products.
Other stores like Perfume World have built their businesses on imported perfumes.
Tanvir Alam, brand manager of Bangla Perfumes, the parent company of Perfume World, said they are aware of people’s willingness to buy the ’real’ product.
Alam said that they sell perfume under two categories—luxury and premium.
Their luxury brands include Gucci, Dolche and Gabanna, D&G, Burberry, Versace, Cartier, Thierry Mugler, Swarovski, Creed, Lalique, Tous, Dsquared2 and Gianfranco Ferre.
Their premium brands include Hugo Boss, Lacoste, Escada, Dunhill, Mont Blanc, Azzaro, Porche Design, Moschino, John Richmond, J Del Pozo, Victorynox Swiss Army, Pricess Marina De Bourbon, Pink Sugar and United Colors of Benetton.
“We are the sole distributors of these world-renowned brands. We sell them through the 10 outlets of Perfume World across the metropolitan cities of the country. Prices of our perfumes range between Tk. 2,500 and Tk. 22,000,” said Alam.
“Customers of branded perfumes are usually very well-informed. We train our sales executives about different perfumes so that they can answer customer queries," he also said.
“Every perfume is made by designers for a certain part of the day and for a certain season. Light aqueous or marine scents are comfortable for men during daytime. For women, the comfortable scents would be fruity and floral with a modern twist of gourmand sweetness, as is the case with Burberry Summer that has the key notes of passion fruit, hibiscus and apricot musk. Deep sensual fragrances, such as the Porche Design, would be ideal for both men and women at night,” he explained.
He said that that their outlets have perfume-tasting options. “All branded perfume shops provide this option around the globe. By availing this option, the customer can make an educated decision while buying perfume,” he added.
Alam further said that the perfume market in Bangladesh has always been biased in favour of men. "In other parts of the world this would probably be 70:30 in favour of women. But the situation is different in Bangladesh. Eau de Toilette, which is less concentrated, sells more than Eau de Parfum here," he added.
Online sellers smell
Despite the growth of retail establishments, the business of foreign perfumes is predominantly operating through the internet in Bangladesh. Most perfume lovers prefer to buy their favourite brands from online platforms.
The reason? There are only a handful of verified perfume shops in the country and hence most of the expensive brands sold here are counterfeits. More importantly, online shops have managed to gain buyers’ trust by bringing original products and offering competitive prices.
Online sellers like Perfumance, Zaki’s Perfume Fountain and Perfume Factory BD are attracting new customers and providing specialised products.
Perfumance, founded in 2014, exclusively sells non-alcoholic perfume oil. Zaki’s Perfume Fountain and Perfume Factory BD also carry non-alcoholic attar and perfumes. Perfumance also has a physical store in Dhaka’s Khilgaon area.
BPIB (Buyperfumeinbangladesh.com) is one of the first online perfume sellers in Bangladesh. It offers a varied collection of branded perfumes. It sells full bottles as well as decants (small portions such as 5ml or 10ml in spray bottles).
“We sell decants to help customers make an informed decision about buying full bottles,” said Dip Ahmed, an executive of BPIB.
The store also sells perfume atomisers on its website (atomisers are decant bottles with utility for transferring from large bottles). The prices range from Tk. 50-450.
BPIB started selling perfumes since last year and imports from USA, UK and UAE. “We have few VIP customers who will buy anything between five to seven perfumes every month. And there are customers that buy two to three perfumes every month and we give them discounts,” Ahmed added, referring to purchase of full bottles which can range anywhere between Tk3 thousand to Tk25 thousand a bottle.
Perfume Bangladesh (perfume-bd.com) is another website that has gained popularity among internet-savvy consumers. With over 60,000 followers on its Facebook page, it is one of the largest online perfume sellers in Bangladesh.
Fragrancebd.com frequently offers exclusive deals on its website and features an ’on sale’ section. Customers can see a neat ’overview’ of the products. The website also offers the cash on delivery service across the country.
Of course, perfumes are available on mainstream e-commerce sites as well. Online retail marketplaces, such as Banglashoppers.com, Bagdoom.com, Daraz.com and Pickaboo.com, have perfume sections. But these sites invariably have higher prices and relatively smaller collections.
Some companies do not have an independent website, but operate through Facebook. One such seller is USB (UK Shopping from BD), which has a wide collection of both designers and niche perfumes with very affordable options. USB also ships and delivers products from the UK. It also specialiSes in DELIVERING rare and discontinued perfumes, giving customers one more reason for choosing its service over others.