Sales of celebrity scents up worldwide

12 October, 2007


Sales of ‘celebrity scents’ are on the rise worldwide as more and more ordinary mortals wish to smell like Paris Hilton, Sarah Jessica Parker, Usher, and even romance novelist Danielle Steel.

A report released by Euromonitor International, a market research firm based in Chicago, the United States, says the worldwide sales of the top seven celebrity scent lines totaled $353.6 million in 2006.

The best-selling Sean John Unforgivable – the signature scent of Sean Combs, also known as Diddy – fetched $74.9 million in sales for parent company Estée Lauder. Diddy is far more popular than more established brands like Liz Claiborne’s Curve for Men (which earned $31.3 million in sales).

Diana Espino, general manager of Sean John Fragrances, a division of Estée Lauder, is of the opinion that Combs is the driving force behind the line that also includes Unforgivable Woman.

Combs, Diana Espino added, came up with an initial concept, tested different scents and eventually began starring in print and online advertisements.

Other celebrities – for instance, Sarah Jessica Parker – made appearances at retail outlets and signed each bottle sold there within a few hours of Lovely’s release.

The scents of Sean Combs and Sarah Jessica Parker are on store shelves as a result of licensing deals: Sean Combs has signed up with Estée Lauder, and Sarah Jessica Parker with Coty.

In most such deals, the licenser produces the fragrance, then slaps the star’s name on the bottle. The star receives a cut of the sales.

For stars like Jennifer Lopez, who has a fifth scent, Deseo, set for release through Coty in February 2008, these deals fetch a fortune, according to the report by Euromonitor International.

In 2006, the net worth of Jennifer Lopez was about $110 million, according to Forbes’ list of the 20 richest women in entertainment. Sales of Jennifer Lopez’ fragrances, including Glow and Live Luxe, totaled $77 million in 2006.

Analysts say that, since consumers already identify with celebrities, there is little need for marketing efforts when distributors slap a recognisable name on a perfume bottle.

Henrik Vejlaard, sociologist and author of Anatomy of a Trend, explains this trend: “In the 1950s and 1960s, when fashion designers like Christian Dior and Givenchy became popular, it was easier to market their perfumes, because there wasn’t so much competition. It takes a lot of money to make a designer perfume well-known these days. Perfumers benefit financially from names that are very famous already.”

Even when a celebrity goes through bad times, his/her celebrity scent does not seem to suffer. A good case in point is pop star Britney Spears, who has been having a very rough time, both personally professionally, for a couple of years now. However, her scent is still in demand worldwide.

Amid her divorce with Kevin Federline, the child-custody battle and a stint in rehab, sales of Britney Spears’ Curious and Fantasy totalled $84 million in sales.

Elizabeth Arden, the parent company, launched her third product, Believe, in August 2007.

The idea of celebrity scents is not new. Givenchy created a perfume for Hollywood actress Audrey Hepburn in the 1950s. In the 1980s, Elizabeth Taylor introduced Passion, which remains one of the top-selling fragrances to this day, according to Rochelle Bloom, president of the Fragrance Foundation, a trade association.

But, celebrity fragrances soared in popularity after 2002, when Jennifer Lopez’s Glow grossed $40 million in sales during the first four months of its launch.

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