What lead to starting A.N. Other?
So I had no background in not in perfume or in beauty, I’m actually a lawyer and I also did Real Estate development for many years. I was looking to start something, It started with Barbara Thau’s article “Behind the spritz: what really goes into a bottle of $100 perfume”. Fragrance is one of the products where there’s an enormous disparity between the cost of the ingredients that go inside the bottle and the product’s price. Add to that the fact that there has been no significant change in the way perfumes are marketed – they rely heavily on celebrity campaigns and endorsements, scantily clad models, and mood marketing. Department stores that display hundreds of fragrances at a time, completely overwhelming the customer. We thought that the consumer deserves better. We also knew that we can’t offer a higher quality product at a lower price point by following the rules – the product itself is very, very high end. Had we followed the rulebook, our brand would have had to sell for as much as similar quality brands, which is at least $250, and ours is actually made by the same perfumers.
Our range is also gender neutral – it was a very personal decision, when we were talking to different perfumers, they were excited about it too. When bigger name brands design a perfume, they start from the outside in – they decide on the gender, the packaging, they start from there and then they work their way into what actually makes it into the bottle. Then they tell their perfumers very strictly to “this has to smell like..” and they hand them a brief. The whole process bothered me – perfumers really are artists and they were to be given freedom to create. Also some rationale came from the fact that there are women who like wearing distinct men’s colognes – there’s nothing wrong with that similar to how there are men who tend to use fragrances that might be considered more floral. This is why we went gender neutral. The packaging, the bottles, all of it is meant for all genders. Fragrance smells different on everyone and reacts differently with everyones body – it’s a personal thing and you cant really color it pink and say its for girls. This also was really exciting for the perfumers we worked with, as they got full creative freedom and no budget constraints and briefs. The only things we told them was that the perfumes had to be made with sustainable, high-end ingredients, so if we had a choice between cheaper ingredients that were sourced in an unsustainable way and a sustainable but expensive one, we’d go with the sustainable one. Also, we didn’t add colors, lot of preservatives and stuff that go into the products and those made up for the main instructions to the perfumers. We didn’t dictate any of the other details that went into the fragrances and there is a story behind each fragrance.
How did you approach marketing & how did you manage to grow, back when you started vs. now?
We are growing organically, mainly through word of mouth. Most brands allocate over 80% of their resources to corporate overhead, marketing, distribution, licensing, celebrity endorsements, leaving a disproportionately small amount invested in the product itself. We flipped it around. We made investment in the product our #1 priority and invest comparatively little in marketing. We’ve done some PR, we’ve done some events, there’s affiliate networks that make up a component, we have some retail presence and It works really well – it happens slowly, but we have the ability to build a real, organic relationship and have a customer base of people who’re loyal to the brand. We do use Email marketing to retain customers online(using ActiveCampaign). We are planning to scale our marketing up, but Paid Advertising platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Google are something we’re very wary of – it’s a matter of principle and the numbers aren’t there for us.
Any problems faced in terms of Marketing/Sales?
Our biggest misconception is, ironically, our prices. By pricing our collection honestly, we make high-end luxury fragrances affordable. Yet, consumers are highly biased by pricing. Our biggest challenge is to communicate that had we followed the traditional model; our fragrances would have sold for $300. Our biggest misconception is, ironically, our prices. By pricing our collection honestly, we make high-end luxury fragrances affordable. Yet, consumers are highly biased by pricing. Our biggest challenge is to communicate that had we followed the traditional model; our fragrances would have sold for $300. Luckily, our customers succinctly voice that. Luckily, our customers succinctly voice that.