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Role in the industry
Celebrity perfumes make up more and more of the perfume market, and it won’t be long before your favourite he or she is selling you something that smells like them. Perfume sales in the United States have had a mixed performance for a number of years, but increasingly, celebrity perfumes are propping up the bottom line. Recently, many celebrities are associating their name with a perfume. The celebrity’s name and reputation become the main selling point of the perfume. However, these perfumes do not have longevity equal to regular perfumes, suggesting that the reliance on celebrity association may distract from the quality of the perfume.
Who are the culprits?
Celebrities who have a perfumes named after them are as diverse as Britney Spears, with Curious and Fantasy, Gwen Stefani with L, Cher, with her fragrance Uninhibited and Peter Andre with Mysterious Girl. Perfume manufacturers tend to create an entire gift set, with several pieces available for sale. Britney Spears’ Curious, for example, includes a 3.3 oz bottle, Body Souffle, Colour Kit, Fragrance Roller Ball and Lip Gloss Duo. These perfumes have been known to be very successful. Curious made over $30 million in sales in the first three months of its launch.
Another sales technique is to create spin off fragrances, like Midnight Fantasy, and Hidden Fantasy, which are spin offs of Fantasy. These spin offs feature significant changes in packaging, as well as changes in the actual fragrance itself. The spin-off strategy attempts to remedy a fatal flaw of celebrity perfumes. The age bracket of the target market tends to be narrower, being composed of devotees of the relevant celebrity. Furthermore, the unpredictable status of the relevant celebrity can be famous and beloved one day, or forgotten the next. This means that demand for the perfume inevitably declines. Spin-offs tend to extend the longevity of a single perfume, while requiring only a little deviation from the existing brand.
Bad reputations, bad smells
A correlating effect of associating a perfume with a particular celebrity is the symbiotic relationship created between the two. When events in the personal or professional life of the celebrity receive significant negative media coverage, the sales figures for the relevant perfumes are also affected. For example, in January 2007, events in Britney Spears’ personal life affected the sales of Midnight Fantasy. So much so that people were returning gift sets to stores, significantly more often.Celebrities have even gone so far as to create competitions intended to promote the perfumes associated with their names, such as the well known paparazzi competition, whereby Britney Spears encouraged fans to share what ‘happens to them’ at midnight by photographing their friends. Britney Spears is a celebrity notable for endorsing multiple fragrances, including a fragrance specifically associated with her album ‘Circus.’
What goes up, need not come down
It is worthwhile to remember that not all celebrity perfumes are destined for short a lifespan. It is well known that one of the best sellers has long been the perfume associated with Elisabeth Taylor, White Diamonds. It is in fact Elisabeth Arden’s best selling perfume since it came out in 1991. However, a more modern femme fatale is challenging Elisabeth Taylor for the top honours. Jennifer Lopez’s fragrances have earned around $250 million in sales. Some are predicating that J. Lo. Will be the best seller soon.
By Patrick N.