A Creed perfume costs more than $300 for a 100 ml / 3.4 fl oz bottle. As of the time of writing this article, the Aventus perfume is $445.
That’s quite a bit of money to ask for a perfume, even a quality one, and this raises the question of why Creed fragrances, perfumes and colognes are so expensive.
Perhaps the next most important question is, are they even worth the price? If not, what alternatives should you consider?
Why Creed colognes and perfumes are so expensive
1. You buy a perfume used by old European royalty (allegedly)
Like with most luxury goods, it is the brand and prestige of the product that costs the most money.
When it comes to Creed, a lot of their branding power rests in the old history of the company, which they always try to push forward in their marketing.
Creed was founded more than 250 years ago in 1760 by a certain James Henry Creed, and was initially a high-class London tailoring shop. Over time, the company shifted it’s focus from tailoring to perfumes.
In the year 1854, the company relocated its headquarters from London to Paris, and established itself as the perfume supplier to some of the age’s most important historical figures, such as the British Empire’s Queen Victoria or the French Empress Eugenie.
Or at least that’s what the company says.
Known historical records do indeed confirm the first part of the company’s founding as a tailor shop as well as it’s relocation to Paris.
Where things get a little murky however are Creed’s claims it was a perfume supplier for the royalty of the age.
That’s because there is no proof for any of those claims: no receipts, no perfume bottles, no written testimonies etc.
In fact, the first known Creed perfume, Green Irish Tweed, came out in the 1970’s, nearly a hundred years after the deaths of Queen Victoria and Empress Eugenie.
In the best case scenario, Creed’s story is either undocumented, or in the worst case, completely made up. It’s possible though the company has thorough internal records proving all this but isn’t making them public for other reasons
As a comparison, Farina is a perfume house even older than Creed (founded in the year 1709), and has public records that span the company’s nearly entire 300 year old history. They also have a museum you can visit that explores all of the perfumes they’ve made during this time. It’s this transparency that allows Farina to really market themselves as a centuries old perfume house nobody can contest, unlike Creed.
2. Handmade in a single location in France
Creed produces all of its perfumes at a single location near Paris, France. Much of the manufacturing process is done by hand by highly trainer perfumers.
Most other perfumes are made in factories where every single step is carefully automated and requires minimal human intervention.
Since the handmade approach to creating a perfume is more expensive and time consuming, Creed has to maintain higher prices to offset the high human labor costs.
3. Aspirational product and status symbol
There is a concept in economics called Veblen goods. These are products that become more desirable the more expensive they are.
In other words, the main reasons people buy them is because they are expensive.
Examples of Veblen goods include luxury cars such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, clothes from Louis Vuitton etc.
People want these products for the social status they provide, rather than the actual quality of the product itself.
Creed perfumes are by all definitions Veblen goods.
They are good products to be fair, but there are countless other perfumes in the $100-200 range that smell as good as Creed perfumes and have identical or better performance.
However, people buy Creeds because of the price tags. They want to wear a perfume that few or no other people own or can afford to own, and this type of exclusivity costs extra money.
Ironically though, Creed perfumes sell so well that the company has had to raise prices for their perfumes, otherwise they’ll become too common and risk hurting the luxurious feel of the brand.
4. Creed made innovative, quality perfumes
Seinfeld was one of most successful and innovative TV series ever made, so much so it created a huge number of TV series that copied everything that made Seinfeld such a hit.
For a while, most shows on TV were Seinfeld clones, which led to the “Seinfeld is unfunny” phenomenon.
Basically, people got so used to Seinfeld clones and jokes, they started seeing Seinfeld itself as “unfunny, boring and repetitive”, even though Seinfeld was the origin point of it all.
A similar thing has happened to Creed.
In the 1980’s Creed released some of it’s most famous perfumes such as Green Irish Tweed, Bois du Portugal, Orange Spice and more.
These perfumes were huge commercial hits because they had innovative new scents that nobody else could offer at the time.
This success didn’t go unnoticed, and hundreds of Creed clones have popped up, most of them with similar scents.
As a result, many of Creed’s current perfumes will feel common, boring or repetitive since they’ve been copied so much.
However, that doesn’t really change the fact that Creed introduced many of these scents in the first place, and so they still carry the price tag of being “the original thing”.
5. Creed has a captive audience and can afford to increase prices
Another reason why Creed can afford to have such high prices is due to the nature of how the perfume industry works.
Perfumes are the kind of products that become part of the identity of the user, so giving up on your favorite perfume feels like letting go of a piece of your own identity and that’s a hard pill for many people to swallow.
As a result, buyers would rather spend extra to keep their identity intact, so to speak, rather than have to give up on something that’s essential to them.
The end result is that Creed has a captive pool of buyers they can squeeze with higher prices, since they know they’ll buy their perfumes anyway.
6. Creed ingredients are (very slightly) more expensive
The ingredients for a $300 to 500 bottle of Creed perfume or cologne cost $10-20 at most.
Out of this, the bottle, spray mechanism and packaging is half the cost, with the actual “juice” making up the other half.
And that’s actually on the expensive side. Most $100-200 perfumes cost $5-10 to make.
Creed itself lists the ingredients it uses in fragrances, and all of them are standard, highly available ingredients that cost pennies to purchase in bulk such as: alcohol (80% or more of a perfume bottle is alcohol) and various other synthetic chemicals like ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, limonene, cinnamal etc.
To give you an idea, each of the chemicals listed above cost between $10-20 per liter. However, perfume houses like Creed buy in bulk so they can negotiate even lower prices.
Finally, a single liter of synthetic chemicals is enough to manufacture hundreds of Creed 100 ml perfume bottles.
7. Perfumes are a brutally competitive business
Starting a perfume business is surprisingly easy and inexpensive. The hard part is surviving.
The ingredients for making the actual “juice” are relatively affordable, and learning how to combine them takes some skill, but it’s something that can be learned by many people.
This creates a low barrier to entry in the industry. Often times $100,000 to 200,000 is enough to start an indie perfume line.
The other side of the coin is that a successful perfume can become a blockbuster seller with $100 million+ in sales every year, such as Chanel No. 5 or YSL Black Opium.
Because of this, there is a huge amount of competition in the fragrance space with small players eating away at the “niche” end of the market, while big brands like Dior or Yves Saint Lauren swallow the mainstream segment with $50-100 million marketing campaigns for new perfume lines.
The end result is a brutally competitive, winner-takes-all industry where most perfumes fail to make their money back.
This incentivizes perfume houses and fashion brands to raise prices for their successful perfumes and make as much money as possible from them before they drop-off in popularity or until they have a new blockbuster on their hands.
8. Shipping costs
Another small reason for the high price of Creed perfumes and colognes are the shipping costs involved in sending a batch of products from France to all over the world.
Creed perfumes are expensive, but are they good?
The quality of a perfume or cologne can be pretty subjective, but there are a few useful standards a consumer can use to measure their quality:
- Longevity – or how long a perfume lasts after application.
- Sillage (or Projection) – how far away you can smell the perfume.
- Price Value – are you getting the best bang for buck?
For $300 and up, you’d expect a Creed perfume either to have the best longevity and sillage (or projection) a perfume could have.
However, the price-to-value ratio of a Creed Aventus is very expensive.
Other perfumes with similar scores such as Tom Ford’s Ombre Leather costs between $170-200 for a 100ml bottle, while Creed Aventus goes for $400+ for a 100ml bottle.
Both these perfumes are highly rated and of near identical quality, but one is twice as expensive as the other.
This was just one example, there are countless other perfume brands in the same quality niche that are much more affordable than Creed.
Point is, with the money spent on a Creed you can buy two bottles of perfumes of identical quality, but from other brands.
Alternatives to Creed perfumes
While Creed is one of the more famous niche & luxury perfume houses, it isn’t the only one. There are many other perfume houses that are about as old Creed, have their own rich, distinctive scents but often come at noticeably lower prices.
Guerlain is a French perfume house that was founded in 1828 and was ran by the Guerlain family until the year 1994, when it was bought by the fashion giant LVMH (the company that owns Louis Vuitton).
In terms of prices, most Guerlain fragrances (eau de toilette and eau de parfum), cost around $100 to 150 per 90 ml / 3 fl. oz. This compares pretty favorably with Creed’s pricing, which sits at around $300-350 for 100 ml / 3.3 fl. oz.
Kurkdjian is the perfume house created by French perfumer Francis Kurkdjian. It is priced about as much as Creed, but the brand comes with its own distinctive notes and scents.
Montblanc is a German luxury goods company, and offers a wide variety of products across multiple categories such as: pens, leather clothing accessories, watches, bags and of course perfumes.
Their perfume line is surprisingly good, and in 2019 launched perhaps one of their best perfumes to date: the Montblanc Explorer.
In terms of pricing, Montblanc perfumes come in at around $100-120 for a 100 ml eau de parfum bottle.
Farina perfume house was founded in 1709, making it one of the oldest (if not the oldest) perfume houses in the world.
The company hails from the German city of Cologne, and even invented a new type of perfume called eau de Cologne, which has a lower concentration of perfume, at around 3-5%.
Its eau de toilettes are priced at around $100-150 per 100 ml / 3.3 fl. oz.