The popular singer Beyoncé is not backward in coming forward and has come up with a striking fragrance offering, Beyoncé Heat Eau de Parfum Spray. It is described as a rich, sophisticated scent with hints of red vanilla, magnolia,honeysuckle and almond. It sounds great, and the pack is clearly a work of art in itself in a curvaceous bootyesque bottle with a fiery red colouring. With an international profile so high it probably needs an oxygen mask, this is a product that will have no trouble getting distribution and attention. I was not suprised to see that at time of writing it is the biggest seller on Amazon.
What did surprise me was the price tag. The 30ml size is up on Amazon for £7.75. a hefty discount on the recommended retail price considering that we are now well into the run up to Christmas. But even its full price is only £23. For comparison the classic Chanel No 5 in the same size will set you back £58.80.
And although the Channel packaging has a stylistic elegance, it clearly doesn’t cost as much to make as the exotic confection that Beyoncé’s offering comes served up in.
The idea that a top celebrity fragrance should be on sale at such a low price, and then be discounted so heavily at a time of year when fragrance sales are at their peak is a surprising turn of events. It isn’t as if people are losing interest in celebrities. And fragrance sales in general are holding up well too.
The problem is the combination. People are falling out of love with celebrity fragrances. This has already been evident with some of the less well known stars having to content themselves with modest sales at low prices. But stars don’t really come much bigger than Beyoncé. If even her fragrance can only be shifted with hefty discounting it really makes you wonder just how much longer celebrity fragrances are going to be around.
Celebrity fragrances have been around a long time. The category was created by the enterprising Elizabeth Taylor with her classic White Diamonds. Taylor was as passionate about her fragrances – she launched a total of 1o – as she was about actual diamonds. And she was the kind of personality for whom an interest in fragrance was a very believable. Since then it has become more and more routine. It is quite easy to imagine Elizabeth Taylor imperiously selecting a seriously impressive smell and not stopping until she had something good. It is much harder to imagine the same diligence being shown by One Direction.
So the celebrity fragrance has become a lot less special than it used to be. There are also demographics against it. There are fewer younger people around and as people get older they are less likely to make a purchasing decision based on supporting their pop idols and more on, well, what it smells like.
Building a long lasting fragrance brand is a bit project, and a risky one. You need to sink a lot of money in before you get a return. It is no wonder that the temptation to shortcut the process by riding on the coat tails of show biz razzmatazz. The trouble is it doesn’t seem to work any more.