Why is Cologne SO Expensive? (Explained)

To most people, smelling nice is an extension of the way they choose to present themselves to the world. It’s a nice accessory to have but why is cologne so expensive?

Cologne can be expensive for a number of reasons, ranging from the types of ingredients used to the way the product is marketed to customers.

As you read through this article, I hope to help you understand the costs associated with cologne and what you can do to reduce or minimize those costs.

Why is Cologne SO Expensive

What Makes Cologne So Expensive?

As a luxury purchase, part of what makes cologne so expensive is the fact that you’re buying into an experience instead of simply purchasing a product.

It’s difficult to assign a specific price or value, but here are some factors to think about when considering the cost of one bottle of cologne.

Ingredient Quality

When choosing a cologne, it can put you at ease to know that a company is carefully selecting each ingredient that makes up the scent formula.

From the alcohol to essential oils, and other ingredients that’ll never appear on the label, the better made, the less of a problem it’ll create for you – whether natural or synthetic.

Ironically, there are affordable natural ingredients and not all synthetic ones are cheap. Whether natural or synthetic, there’s a range in level of quality and price for each.

Ingredient Quantity

As previously explained fragrance oils are the most expensive ingredient added to any fragrance. But the amount of fragrance oils added to cologne is less than that of an eau de parfum, making it less expensive than perfume.

But cologne is more costly than an eau de toilette, eau fraiche, body splash, and so forth, due to the amount of fragrance oil added.


Packaging can cost four to six times as much as the liquid inside of the bottle

There’s a lot that goes into the process, from the bottle material to the bottle size, whether it’s embossed, how elaborate the stopper, the materials used to make and print the boxes, etcetera, all of these expense lines add up.

Social Persuasion

It costs tens of thousands of dollars to advertise in magazine publications. One full page can cost upwards of $30k and that doesn’t include the fragrance samples included in the magazine.

Multiply these costs by several of the most popular publications where you’d find an ad for the same fragrance.

Fragrances are an emotional purchase. For instance, when we had nowhere to go in 2020 due to lockdown, sales for personal fragrances soared. We’re talking over $33 billion dollars in 2021 with estimates of this number steadily increasing, moving closer to $50 billion by 2027.

Over the past two years, consumers wanted to give beautiful fragrances to others and treat themselves to something nice – possibly in an effort to “lift spirits” and find comfort during difficult times.

Additionally, fragrance houses pay millions of dollars for celebrities to endorse their cologne. They choose stars that are relatable, highly attractive, inspiring – which helps you to feel more connected to the product.

Once a scent gains momentum, though, fewer marketing dollars are needed. For example, the cologne Acqua di Gio was released in 1995 but reportedly earns between one and two billion dollars per year on autopilot to this very day. In cases such as this company profits increase over time.


Fragrance formula is the glue that holds all other points together. Without the right “juice” as these fragrances are sometimes called, you won’t earn customer sales.

So, another factor is the “nose” behind the scent. The perfumer who creates the fragrance formula for your cologne is an essential factor in whether or not the scent sells.

Without an intoxicating fragrance formula, all the best ingredients, attractive packaging, and pointed marketing, will fall flat.

You might assume that the more an ingredient costs, the better it’ll smell, but this isn’t true. If the perfumer doesn’t incorporate just the right amount of each ingredient, then the cologne won’t smell attractive to customers.

A good cologne has a balanced fragrance and lasts a long time. Affordable and moderately priced colognes can smell nice and perform well as some more expensive brands.

Extraneous Costs

Aside from these main cost components, there are a number of additional costs associated with making colognes available to customers.

  • Lab staff
  • Research and development teams
  • Testers/samplers
  • Branded testing papers
  • Department store markups (can be upwards of 60-100%)
  • Salespeople salaries
  • Salespeople commissions
  • Custom store displays

I’m sure there are additional costs not mentioned here. Hundreds of thousands of dollars – sometimes millions – are spent before the first sale is made.

Brand Name

Related to the nose behind the scent is the brand emblem that’s on the bottle. Similar to apparel and vehicle purchases, certain brand names are associated with worthwhile products.

When purchasing fragrances from certain brands, you can rest assured that they put as much effort into creating the juice as they do marketing it to you. Some of these brands are heavily involved in the production process, others source out these services, but they aren’t going to attach their brand name to a fragrance that doesn’t meet their quality standards.

This factor alone can make some expensive colognes worth the purchase.

How Much Does It Cost to Manufacture Cologne?

You won’t find a company that’ll share definitive manufacturing and sales numbers with customers or other corporations, but it’s possible to make inferences from available information.

That said, even when sourcing expensive ingredients, it doesn’t cost that much to manufacture a personal fragrance.

According to this Los Angeles Times article, a $150 bottle of perfume often only costs between $1.20 to $1.50 to make.

Colognes cost half as much to produce, and therefore, have higher profits than perfume. They also sell more – 65% of a fragrance company’s sales comes from cologne over perfume.

Relatively speaking, cologne is less expensive than perfume, so more customers are able to afford it.

Should You Buy Cheap Colognes?

In the long run, gravely inexpensive colognes aren’t worth the money.

Some colognes have a heavy “front load.” This means that they immediately smell wonderful, but the scent quickly falls off after you’ve worn the scent for a short time. They actually turn out to be more expensive because you’ll reapply them more often, resulting in the bottle not lasting as long.

Or, you’ll want to immediately replace the inexpensive bottle with something more expensive once you realize that the one you purchased doesn’t perform well.

When made well, read: worth the money, your cologne will both smell nice and last longer than an hour or two.

How Can You Save Money on Cologne?

Although it’s best to spend extra dollars on a high-quality cologne, there are ways that you can reduce the amount you pay in the end.

Purchase the Larger Bottle

For colognes worn daily, or at least on a regular basis, it’s more cost efficient to purchase the larger bottle. You’ll pay less per ounce, and it’ll last you for a few years at least.

Buy Testers

Instead of paying for all of the packaging and expensive bottle caps, purchase a wholesale tester. They may not display well, but the scent is the same.

Shop Discount Retailers or at Duty-Free Stores

Customer loyalty discounts can be worth the excessive marketing emails you’ll receive. It’s less expensive to retain a customer than to acquire a new one. When they demonstrate that they care and are intentional about communications with you, then you probably won’t mind them marketing to your email box and sending you cologne discounts.

Alternatively, duty-free stores are a great solution, especially if you’re seeking a specific cologne. Your email account won’t be invaded by marketing efforts, and you can more proactively purchase your favorite cologne.

Holiday Sales

Sometimes the best sales surround the holidays. As you know by now, it’s less about the holidays and more about meeting end of year sales quotas. But it’s hard not to take advantage of steep discounts.

For instance, this past Black Friday, my favorite Lancôme fragrance was 50% off the retail price. Fragrances on their website from Black Friday to Cyber Monday were less expensive than discount stores. This is something to look out for next year.

Should You Buy Expensive Cologne?

Now that you understand why cologne is so expensive, it’s up to you to decide whether or not you want to pay for expensive cologne.

Considering how long cologne can last, you’d be purchasing a product that won’t be immediately consumed. Knowing this can sometimes justify the higher costs involved.

Beyond costs, though, you want to consider what matters most to you. Is it more important to support your favorite performer or is it more important to research how ingredients are sourced, and how the cologne is made and distributed? Is prestige more important to you than fragrance?

No one can answer these questions but you. So, take the time to consider your budget and preferences before buying expensive cologne.

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Hello and welcome to Fragrance Advice! My name is Grace Young, and I’ve been drawn to fragrances since I was a little girl. There's just something about scent that brings me so much joy! 

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