Celebrities are flooding into fragrance.
The stars may have originally gravitated toward launching skin care lines, but now it’s perfume that is having a moment.
In a wave reminiscent of the celebrity fragrance heyday in the 2000s, celebrities of varying size are either getting into fragrance or doubling down on the business. Millie Bobby Brown recently took her brand, Florence by Mills, into the category; Sabrina Carpenter and Ariana Grande both introduced scents, and earlier, Drake’s Better World Fragrance House expanded into Harrods in the U.K.
Paris Hilton’s fragrance business launched a new fragrance last year after nearly two decades in business. In 2019, that business was estimated to have done $2.5 billion in sales since its inception in 2004.
Next on the docket is Beyoncé, who is launching an eau de parfum on her website. It is available for preorder for $160 and will ship in November. Notes include clementine, golden honey, rose absolute, jasmine sambac, namibian myrrh and golden amber.
The megacelebrity had previously launched Heat ($59) in 2009, which, like many celebrity fragrances from that decade, fell by the wayside. With the ongoing explosion of the fragrance category — up 13 percent in the prestige market during the first half, per Circana — fragrance is poised to see more famous entrants.
In addition to differentiated products, executives say fostering connection with consumers is the key to longevity for celebrity brands. Hailey Sproull, an executive in business development for CAA, said that only gets harder as a star’s reach grows.
“When thinking about how to translate somebody’s celebrity or influence into success, we’re thinking about two main archetypes: macro and micro [celebrities],” she said. “At the most basic level, this is defined by the size of their audience across social media. We typically find that there’s almost an inverse relationship between engagement and audience size. If you have 20 million followers, you’re going to see fewer engagements per post, but if you are a smaller, niche influencer, you’re going to have a highly engaged community.”
Building a community allows celebrities to rely on their fanbase to market products on their own. “It comes back to the communities that a brand is able to build in brands that at the most basic level, is about customer retention,” Sproull said. “Every brand, whether it’s skin care or cosmetics or fragrance, the ultimate goal is creating a community of brand evangelists that are going to be your marketing engine.”
Despite the brand’s bumpy start in 2019, Sproull pointed to Haus Labs as a successful A-list-founded brand, despite the size of CAA client Lady Gaga’s large following. “Her community of little monsters are so engaged, and she’s done an excellent job of cultivating that community and building it,” she said. “You can think of a number of celebrities that are massive and have enormous audiences, but have just been incredibly thoughtful about how they’re cultivating that community.”
The other piece is the founder’s involvement. For Parlux, the fragrance licensee that holds licenses for Billie Eilish — whose first fragrance was estimated to hit $60 million in sales, per industry sources — and Hilton’s fragrance businesses, which holds a role in evaluating every partnership.
“Celebrities must have a strong fan base, they must have a community of people — that’s paramount to creating authentic marketing plans for each new launch,” said Lori Singer, president of Parlux. “Our founder-led brands take their fragrance businesses very seriously. And we want to ensure their authenticity is never questioned.
“Celebrity culture drives trends and influences consumer behavior, so celebrity fragrances are often at the forefront of consumer trends,” Singer continued. “When we find a new celebrity license, we’re very particular about who we sign. We turn down more than we accept. We always consider the longevity of the celebrity’s career and the connection they have with fans to ensure that they’re sustainable brands.”