Put quite simply, perfume is a smell! What type of smell and how it is produced and marketed is perhaps of greater significance. The way in which perfumes and fragrances are made up can have an effect on the marketability and acceptance by the consumer. It is big business and not merely a matter of mixing a drop of water with some crushed flowers, it is a real mixture of science and art. Firstly one has to consider what type of perfumes and fragrances are to be produced. Parfum (or Perfume depending on where you are in the world), is the most concentrated form typically containing 22% essential oils (that is the active ingredient giving the smell). Eau de Parfum (or EDP) contains between 15 and 22% essential oils whilst Eau de Toilette (or EDT) contains 8 to 15%. Eau de Cologne (EDC) although popular due to its relative cost has just 4% and a further dilution is Eau Fraiche which contains a subtle hint of fragrance at 1 to 3% essential oils. These essential oils for perfumes and fragrances are usually extracted from flowers or other aromatic parts of a plant. It takes a lot of raw material to make a small amount of the concentrated oil. Next one has to consider exactly what carrier liquids are to be used which is no easy task.
The carrier either has to compliment the essential oils or has to be totally inert and not have any scent at all. Most perfumes and fragrances are mixed with between 75 and 95% of specially denatured ethyl alcohol with the remainder made up of a single or, more usually in modern products, a mixture of essential oils. However, other types of carrier can be used, such as inert oils and water (although this is now relatively uncommon). The exact mix of essential oils to bring about a unique smell is carefully controlled in laboratories using very modern scientific methods. However, whatever perfumes and fragrances are eventually produced using all the most modern scientific analysis available it must pass a further test. The people who are employed as the testers of the smell (or smellers can you imagine writing that on your CV!!) must pass the scent before any sort of production can take place. The next hurdle is consumer testing. This is possibly the most intense part of the whole process because who is to say that your sense of smell is any better than another persons? Your likes and dislikes and personal preferences with smell play a part and if unsuccessful at this stage then the perfumes and fragrances will not get to market.
The company then has to decide the best way in which to bring the perfumes and fragrances to the market. Advertising strategies, packaging, bottle shapes, price range, demographics and a whole host of other considerations have to be borne in mind before you and I eventually get the product to our noses. So that smell, whether lingering heaven or quick spent hell, whether outrageously expensive or cheap as chips, comes down to one thing personal preference. Whether it is considered an award winning part of the perfumes and fragrances market or a mere smell is down to you.