Will the stink rising from Justin Bieber kill off the celebrity scent business? Shares in Elizabeth Arden have plunged 25 per cent after the beauty giant reported a record quarterly loss, citing a bigger than expected decline in celebrity perfume sales, headed by the troubled pop star’s scent.
There are over 500 celebrity fragrances released each year, some boasting the most tangential connections to their supposed creators.
But with everyone from Joey Essex to Pope Benedict XVI endorsing their own musky scent, the market may have finally reached its limit.
Elizabeth Arden said net sales for the three months to June fell 28 per cent to £115m, its deepest slump in a decade.
The company said that “the decline in sales of celebrity fragrances, particularly the Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift fragrances, was steeper than anticipated.” Half the slump in its US business was due to the fall in sales of its celebrity perfumes.
The Key, Bieber’s fragrance, a “fruity floral” concoction of Pink Jasmine and Sweet Osmanthus Blossoms, promises to “channel Justin’s authentic voice that inspires his millions of dedicated fans to believe – to believe in themselves, to believe in their connection with Justin, and most of all, to believe that their dreams will come true.”
However Bieber’s endorsement value has declined as he acquires an extensive rap sheet. Last week the singer, 20, pleaded guilty to misdemeanour charges of careless driving and resisting arrest in Miami Beach. Last month he pleaded no contest to a vandalism charge.
Swift’s Wonderstruck, a “charming and sparkling surprise of vibrant fruits, kissed by a bouquet of soft petals and a touch of sweet indulgence”, has lost its allure despite being sold for a cut-price £13.50 in Boots.
Elizabeth Arden, whose celebrity perfume brands include Britney Spears, Elizabeth Taylor, Jennifer Aniston and Mariah Carey, said it expected the slump, exacerbated by fewer perfume launches and a pruning of key brands, to continue for another six months.
At their 2011 peak, celebrity fragrance sales contributed $1.3 billion to a $5.2 billion fragrance industry in the US. Spears sold an estimated 500m bottles worldwide of her Curious fragrance and her range of scents generated $30m a year.
But the market, kick-started by the 1991 launch of Elizabeth Taylor’s perfume White Diamonds, which sold 60m bottles, has since become oversaturated in scents.
Every TOWIE-created personality from Sam Faiers (La Bella) to Joey Essex (My Girl) now races to cash in with a perfume deal. In more elevated circles, celebrity perfume-maker Silvana Casoli created a custom-made Cologne for Pope Benedict XVI to go with his Gucci sunglasses and red Prada loafers.
Arden, founded in 1910, became the glamorous go-to for famous names throughout the decades. In the 1950s Marilyn Monroe was a regular visitor, and in 2008 actress Catherine Zeta-Jones opened its new Fifth Avenue flagship store.
The slump has forced the company to cut 175 jobs and seek alternatives to prop up its business.
Investment firm Rhône Capital agreed to pump in nearly $100 million in preferred stock and warrants in exchange for a board seat and a stake of about 7.6 percent in the company.
Arden’s results are in stark contrast to the health of rival Estee Lauder, which saw net sales jump 13 per cent to £1.64bn in the same quarter.