A sign of consumer sanity: Designer perfumes on the decline

In a country where the national past time is doing exceptionally dumb things with money, I'm always on the lookout for little glimmers of hope: signs that someone, somewhere, isn't acting a like a complete idiot.

I found one in the Wall Street Journal today, an article (subscription required) that discusses the decline in the growth of designer perfumes and colognes. The market for moderately-overpriced colognes and perfumes licensed by brands like Hermes and Gucci has become saturated. Add to that products bearing the names and likenesses of celebrities like Celine Dion, Donald Trump, David Beckham, and Britney Spears, and some of the top fashion houses are fleeing to the realm of really really expensive products to differentiate themselves.

In addition, the cost of launching a new fragrance can rise above $50 million -- further evidence of just what a bad deal these scents are for consumers.

Scents put out by top designers have been a way for broke and getting broker consumers to feel like they're part of the luxury crowd -- They may not be able to afford a $5 thousand Gucci bag, but they'll be happy to pay 18% APR for a bottle of the perfume.

Here's what consumers need to know: A lot of these scents are licensed out to other companies who design, market, and distribute the fragrance. Britney Spears did not actually design the Curious perfume, nor is that what she smells like. If you want to smell like Britney, but a pack of Newports and a bottle of Jack Daniels. It's a lot cheaper, and a whole lot more authentic.

Honestly folks, $50+ colognes and perfumes are a waste of money unless you're loaded. By sorting through drug or even discount stores, you'll be able to find something that suits you well for a fraction of the cost.