Notwithstanding fierce competition, shifting consumer behaviour means there’s still money to be made from new celebrity fragrance launches.


By Manish Mishra


The Noughties was easily the peak era for celebrity fragrances when pop culture icons like Britney, Paris Hilton, J.Lo and P Diddy unveiled their scents, cashing in on their popularity. Their huge fan following rushed to the department stores and drug stores to grab these vanity totems emblematic of their beloved stars. Everyone wanted to smell like their icons. Jennifer Lopez was easily the pioneer – kicking off this trend by unveiling her fragrance Glow in 2002 with a touch of citrus, encased in a dégradé hourglass bottle that was strategically timed with the release of her hit “Jenny From The Block”.

Besides J.Lo, Britney Spears and Beyoncé were behind some of the best-selling fragrances of all time. In the years after its 2004 release, one bottle of Britney’s first perfume, Curious, crafted in alliance with Elizabeth Arden, sold every 15 seconds during pre-holidays – and the scent reportedly regained popularity in sales last year following the release of the Framing Britney Spears documentary and her engagement announcement. Curious’s aqua-toned gemstone bottle, accented with pink heart charms and the tagline “Do you dare?”, raked in sales of 500 million between 2004 and 2013, asserting formidable staying power even when Spears herself had slipped out of the public eye.

Lopez’s Glow, meanwhile, made a whopping $100 million in sales in its first year; Beyoncé’s first fragrance, Heat, broke sales records at Macy’s department store (shifting 72,000 bottles within the first hour of its 2010 release), and when Nicki Minaj launched her debut, Pink Friday, it swiftly became the UK’s top-selling fragrance. When Elizabeth Taylor died in 2011, her White Diamonds perfume, released 20 years earlier in 1991, was still making her $61 million a year – far more than any acting role.


These astronomical sales figures were enjoyed in similar measure by stars including Sarah Jessica Parker and Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift. Britney has now unveiled over 30 fragrances and Ariana Grande’s are the most googled on the internet.

However, by the latter half of the last decade, the sales across the board dipped as almost every major celebrity made a foray into the market. Every star jumped onto the bandwagon—from Gwyneth Paltrow’s vagina-scented candle to Cameron Diaz’s wine—the market was inundated with a blizzard of celebrity-endorsed products. Moreover, Kim Kardashian ended production on her KKW fragrances after nearly 50 releases. When there are too many ‘me too’ products with almost identical marketing narratives, the charm associated with the product is lost.

Now that Y2K is having a revival and Gen Z seems fixated on the nineties and noughties, looks like the celebrity perfume revival is on the cards. Rihanna’s £145 Fenty Eau de Parfum is a case in point which was the result of a collaboration with LVMH’s master perfumer. Billie Eilish’s Eilish No. 2 – a sultry, woody scent is another example.

Also worth mentioning here is Michelle Pfeiffer, who unveiled her own fragrance house, Henry Rose, back in 2019, and has launched 11 gender-neutral scents that are touted to be some of the cleanest and most eco-friendly fragrances on the market.

Recently Victoria Beckham, Harry Styles and Millie Bobby Brown are among those embracing the opportunity. Styles’s brand Pleasing is slated to unveil three scents—Closeness, Rivulets, and Bright and Hot— which were created in partnership with the natural perfume maker Robertet, a French fragrance house that’s been around since 1850. Victoria Beckham’s three scents—Suite 302, Portofino ’97, and San Ysidro Drive come packed in vibrant enamel-and-glass bottles inspired by a vintage design Beckham found while travelling.

Notwithstanding the fierce competition, shifting consumer behaviour means there’s still money to be made from new fragrance launches.

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