Interview: How Celebrity Fragrances Work

18/07/2013 18:51 | Updated 22 May 2015

amy childs

Ever wondered how celebrity fragrances work? How do they pick which famous faces are worthy of a fragrance? How hands on are the celebrities anyway? What happens when your celeb had a PR disaster? And what's with all the punchy fruity and floral notes? Well, we have pondered all of that (and more) so we spoke to Kate Morris, PR and marketing director at Jigsaw ESL who looks after celebrity scent brands from Katy Perry, Amy Childs and Katie Price to the late Jade Goody. Here's what she had to tell us:

How you get picked for a fragrance...

"You're constantly looking at talent shows – X Factor, Britain's Got Talent – and reality shows to see who's got potential. You're looking for people on their way up rather than who have already made it because by that stage they've probably written at least one book and done signings on other products – there's not as much of a reason to go out of your way and see these people."

Or how you get someone to pick you...

"Because we've got such a great reputation now for creating the product we get a lot of celebrity management people ringing up to see if we're interested in producing a fragrance or a product for them. We were approached by Amy Childs' management because we'd previously worked with CAN Associates on other products. We immediately said yes and that was just before Christmas so within the space of seven or eight months we've gone from a discussion through to launch."

Market research is probably more important than anything else EVER...

"It doesn't matter if they're a celebrity or a lifestyle brand. It's understanding where they're positioned within the market, getting the pricing structure right and making sure you protect the brand at any cost. When you've got a celebrity endorsing a product it's important that that product is being sold in the right place and the right market and being perceived properly. That celebrity is a brand in their own right."

amy childs

Here's how the duties break down between celebrity and fragrance house...

"We meet up with the celebrity and they put their ideas forward. I talk to them about the market, where we see [the fragrance] sitting, the retailers I know I'd be able to get the products stocked in. Once we've had that conversation we have more of a design meeting - we have an in-house design team - and share ideas and come up with something innovative that gets us noticed on the shelf.

"After that it's really about the juice itself and understanding what fragrance the celebrity would like. At every single step it gets a sign-off from that celebrity. We don't go off and do our own thing, we get the best thing for the market that suits the celebrity and then we get them onside and they sign it off. We take the lead in terms of the commercial stuff and then, when it comes to reflecting the celeb's personality, we have to take their lead on that area."

So what's with all the fruits and florals?

"In most cases the target demographic in the celebrity market is 12-24 year olds. They're young women and girls who will buy the fragrance either because they love the fragrance itself or because they love the celebrity. The appeal at that age group tends to be either fruity – peaches and apple - or floral – jasmine and fuchsia and Bulgarian roses. Then when it's been on the skin a little while it tends to dry down to vanilla or sandalwood or something quite musky."

Celebrity is a risky business...

"We get approached a lot so we have to decide whether it's right for us. One of the key things I do is talk to my retail contacts and ask whether it would be something they would take. Celebrity has a very short shelf life. It's a fickle business and that reflects in sales. From our point of view we take an enormous risk because we don't know if that celeb is going to be around this time next year. Nobody does."

The worst case scenario...

"We always have to have an exit plan. For example if a celeb does something wrong and everyone decides they're going to take a dislike to them our plan might be to see if we can afford to discount this product. We don't like to go that route because it changes the perception of the value of the product but if the celebrity has gone wrong there's not a lot we can do otherwise we'd lose money. Ideally if you've done your research you're not going to sign up a celebrity who doesn't have any longevity. You get it right at the beginning."

jade goody

What's happening with the Jade Goody scent?

"It's still being made and still selling. I have to tell you it hasn't really dropped off. We've done nothing with it because that's not the right thing to do but we've kept it in and the royalties go to her children. It holds its own for the simple reason that you get a lot for your money and it smells just like Angel. Jade Goody has been a real winner right from launch and when she passed away we didn't see a dip."

Is the age of the signature fragrance over?

"It's not like it used to be. Fragrance is all about mood and it creates a memory. Now there's so much choice out there – millions of choices – that people have several. A daytime, a nighttime, a holiday fragrance, whereas before you'd probably have just had the one on your dressing table. "

Amy Childs fragrance available now in Boots, 30ml EDT - £14.99

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