Inside the (Huge) World of Celebrity Perfumes

Celebrity perfumes are an easy source of snark — recently, an article in the Guardian appeared titled, “Why possession of a celebrity perfume is reasonable grounds to end a relationship.”

Still, all fun-poking aside, celeb fragrances are a massive business, to the point where it seems like everyone in Hollywood has their own perfume. After Thanksgiving, Justin Beiber is releasing his first scent, a unisex perfume that “will come in the form of four different wristbands and dog tags” made of a “scent-infused resin that will give off a smell for up to a year.” Elsewhere, Lady Gaga is developing her own signature scent with Coty, which will be released in spring of 2012.

The commercial for Britney Spears’ Curious

Musicians like Beyonce, Avril Lavigne, Fergie, Usher, and Faith Hill all have their own fragrances, as do actresses like Hilary Duff, Eva Longoria, and Queen Latifah. And for good reason — perfume is a big-money business. Britney Spears has sold tens of millions of bottles of Curious and Fantasy, her scents with Elizabeth Arden (she has since released Radiance, Circus Fantasy, and Hidden Fantasy). The A-list reports that Jennifer Lopez’s Glow, released in 2002, earned her $18.5 million dollars that year; that Sarah Jessica Parker’s Lovely has made more than $25.7 million dollars; and Elizabeth Taylor’s White Diamonds (the “most successful celebrity fragrance ever”) has garnered more than $67 million dollars in sales.

It certainly helps that these fragrances get top billing in many women’s magazines — after all, these publications are courting many of these starlets for covers. But really, who’s buying this stuff? The short-lived shelf life of most celeb perfumes points to fans of the actress/singer as the largest consumers (and fans can be notoriously fickle).

The VP of fragrance company Drom, which has released quite a few star scents, revealed to AOL News that “most contracts [for celebrity perfumes] go for three to five years” unless the scent catches on and becomes a franchise. (Drom reported sales growth of 21% for the first half of 2010.) Meaning that the vast majority of celeb scents are around for a year or two, and then fade into oblivion.

Recent stats on’s sales reveal that the majority of scent buyers (69%) are female; beyond that, fragrance consumers run the gamut of all ages, income brackets, and levels of education. In a 2005 article about the business, Fortune reported that Coty was the leader in the celebrity fragrance industry, and that their celebrity licenses have added billions to their bottom line. The company is strategic about who it partners with, signing “Céline Dion to target women in their mid-30s, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen to snag the tween market, and Shania Twain to appeal to the country-music crowd.” Each stars’ fan base dictates the success of their fragrance. So signing J.Lo can mean millions in sales, while signing Donald Trump can be a “disaster.”

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