Less Is More Seen as Trend for Celeb Scents The Fragrance Foundation
recently invited industry experts Karen Grant, Ron Rolleston, Linda Levy, Terry
Darland and Theo Spilka to throw a spotlight on the current state and long-term
viability of celebrity scents, a $1.3 billion business. The net-net? In order to
thrive, the star firmament needs to shrink.

1. A sea of scents drowns consumers: While 2011 has been
promising for celeb scents, 2010 saw a dip of 4% in dollar sales and 3% in unit
sales. One key issue: Too many celebrity fragrances. In prestige alone, there’s
been a six-fold increase in the number of stars with scents since 2002, and a
nine-fold increase in the number of brands. “There’s so much on counter for the
consumer to wade through,” says Grant, vice president and senior global industry
analyst for NPD Group.

2. The Justin Biebers, Taylor Swifts and Beyoncés are few and far
The biggest successes come from stars who fully commit to a
personal appearance by tweeting up a storm in advance and really engaging once
they’re in-store; that intrinsic connection is crucial, says Levy, vp, marketing
cosmetics and fragrances for Macy’s. But Rolleston, Elizabeth Arden’s executive
vice president, creative and business development, says it can’t be fleeting.
His group monitored Swift’s fan base for years before her scent Wonderstruck was
brought to market. “Being #1 in Google search isn’t always enough… We want to
know how much people really like them,” says Rolleston.

3. Primarily, celebrity skews young: “Celebrity tends to
resonate strongest with younger consumers,” says Grant. “Before they’ve been
jaded, fragrance is something they’re still really interested in.” And by young,
Grant means tween girls, who account for a hefty chunk of business. The category
also has a solid foothold in mass.

4. Endorsements are a surer bet than a pure celebrity brand:
Accounting for a mere 5% of the upscale market (down from a peak of 7% in 2006),
star scents are not the slam-dunk in prestige that they are in mass. But, says
Darland, president, Parfums Christian Dior NA, beauty companies can really
strike oil with stars who have what she calls “golden years.” Case in point:
Natalie Portman winning an Oscar right as her Miss Dior ads broke. “Sometimes
it’s just timing,” Darland says.

5. There are myriad ways to strike a deal: Firmenich’s Spilka,
vp, New Business Development & Licensing Worldwide, sees a shift away from the
traditional royalty model; stars, he said, are increasingly interested in equity
stakes. And some, like Kate Walsh, are even willing to bankroll entire projects
by themselves. Another twenty-first century twist: Bieber’s combination
royalty/philanthropy deal, which earmarks a portion of proceeds of his
best-selling Someday scent for Pencils of Promise and the Make-A-Wish
Foundation. “It’s an evolution,” Spilka says.