How and why the grey market is harming the luxury fragrance industry

Posted on April 01 2019

How and why the grey market is harming the luxury fragrance industry

Ever wondered why a so-called luxury perfume is being sold at such a discounted price? You see, instinctively we know that something is wrong. We realise that luxury fragrance, artisan scents do not come cheap. However, for some of us, the thought of a bargain can override our gut instincts. Our intuition that tells us that the unusually cheaper price is too good to be true. However, without a full explanation of any topic, sometimes it is hard to pinpoint exactly why something is a bad idea. So here is a quick, easy-read to explain how and why the grey market is harming the luxury fragrance industry. A quick and helpful guide to the grey market, to help you make an informed decision.

Quality comes at a price, one that we are prepared to pay because we know that what we are getting is a superior, unique fragrance and a high-quality shopping experience. Those are our intentions when we set out to browse the internet for a niche, luxury perfume. Unfortunately, for some of us, those plans can be forgotten when we come across the perfect, artisan fragrance at a much lower price than we expected. In our rush to snap up a bargain, we can neglect to notice that we are not only buying from the grey market, but we are also purchasing a sub-standard, illegal, low-quality product.

Easily done isn’t it?

We all know the legality issues that accompany the internet and online shopping. We are all acutely aware that we cannot assume that everything we find on the web is legal, authorised or beneficial to us. This caution is no different when it comes to buying luxury fragrances online.

As with other industries, there are authorised online perfume retailers and unauthorised, illegal retailers. How do you know who you can trust? Any approved fragrance outlet will be listed on the brand’s website as a permitted seller of the brand’s scent. If a retailer is not on the company’s list, then it is not advisable to buy from them.

Additionally, check to see that the retailer has:

- a complete range of the brand’s goods available

- fragrances sold properly and fully packaged in their boxes

- a company logo, a solid brand history, genuine contact details and positive reviews

- realistic pricing and a return policy, in line with other authorised retailers

Does it matter?

Will buying from an unauthorised online retailer make any difference to the scent that you receive?

In short, yes. Unauthorised online retailers are known as the grey market. The grey market is the collective term for illegal, un-approved outlets online -a by-product of twenty first century online shopping. These sellers can be anyone and their products cannot be trusted. An exaggeration, perhaps?

Unfortunately, it is no overstatement that the grey market is harmful to both you and the brand. How?

The grey market is full of old and sub-standard stock, that should, in fact, not be sold. Instead of enticing, tantalising scents, so-called luxury fragrances sold from unauthorised retailers are out-of-date, undesirable aromas that are way past their best.

Incorrectly stored, passed around and re-stashed without care or adequate knowledge, the odour you encounter will be nothing like the original, captivating scent. A terrible disappointment for you and a damaging, unfair, slight to the brand, from whom you will never want to purchase anything again.

A great loss to you, who had carefully selected the brand because it fulfilled all of your desires. With a shoddy product, you miss out on the wonderful experience of enjoying a distinguished luxury perfume. Worse still, you now have to restart your search, completely confused about what you want coupled with a bad experience and less money to spend.

In addition, the brand now have a damaged reputation without having done anything wrong. Without any relationship to the offending individuals, there is no way for luxury brands to track them down and halt their illegal activities.

Clearly, customer experiences such as this are wholly illegal.

However, as we know, the internet with all its benefits, can also be a magnet for con artists and scammers. The grey market is the number one place to meet them. The flashpoint for fake luxury perfumes topped up or refilled with unknown liquids and cheap fragrances. Counterfeit products that you definitely don’t want anywhere near your precious skin.

How can they do that? Easy. As we know, with a website and an email address, anyone can have an online shopfront. When you buy from illegal websites, they have no accountability. If they sell dodgy, untested substances in counterfeit bottles, they know that they can’t be traced. It is no loss to them, they already have your money. Unable to return the goods or complain, you are simply another scammed individual, with a medical complaint arising from a fake product bought online.

In innocently purchasing from the grey market, we unwittingly contribute to the illegal and damaging activities of these despicable individuals.

Meanwhile, the hardworking brands that we so admire, alongside decent, authorised retailers that we so need, lose out on our valued custom. Where does it end? Ultimately, this harmful chain leads to the end of the artisan brands and unique fragrance boutiques that we enjoy so much.

Thus, when we set out to browse the internet for a gorgeous, unique, luxury scent, regardless of what may show up on Google, we must indeed, hold on to our high standards, listen to our instincts and stick to the authorised luxury fragrance retailers that we can trust. A declaration that we will stick to because we know that, buying cheap never serves you well in the long run.

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  • Scent City: July 08, 2022

    Hi Penny, we’re glad the article helped you. Looking for a good deal is never a bad thing, we just need to be careful of who we get that good deal from, if they are not an official stockist it is harder to get the best help if you need assistance post purchase.
    In regards to the retailer you mentioned, it is best practice for us not to single out anyone in particular, most brands have a list of authorised retailers on their website to help customers. :)

  • Pensky: March 28, 2022

    Hello, thank you for the article. Is TKMaxx part of this problem? I have bought a couple from them and given them both away, but I had never smelt the original of either, my lust for a bargain got the better of me and I blind bought them.


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