Friday, November 30, 2018

"consumers have spent more than $1 billion on [Britney Spears's] perfumes"


Elizabeth Arden had sunk a lot of chemical lab hours and market research into perfecting Spears’ scent (not to mention the $52 million it paid her for the deal): it was a saccharine meringue with a light glaze of white peaches and a delicate lotus basenote, the kind of sugar-dusted mist that’s like catnip to teenage consumers. But celebrity scents are not always a sure thing. Many of them drop into the market with a thud, lasting only a season never to be heard from again (remember J by Jennifer Aniston or Black Star by Avril Lavigne?). So few of them have lasting power — on the skin or in stores.


In its first year in stores, Curious didn’t just kill, it obliterated. It became a phenomenon. It was the top selling fragrance of 2004, netting over $100 million in sales. To put that in perspective, over the course of her 20-year career, Spears has sold 100 million records worldwide. By 2013, one report stated that in five years Elizabeth Arden had sold over 500 million bottles of Curious. That’s five times as many units in a quarter of the time.


The tastes of individuals are wild, but the masses are predictable (they like vanilla, peach, and chemical musk), and it is very difficult to make something transcendent when you have about 100 cooks in the kitchen. This is why so many celebrity scents smell like the same kind of playing it safe — they are like pop songs, engineered with the same backbeat.

But Britney Spears is a wild individual, and Curious has a pulse beneath its honeyed, whipped cream, jelly donut exterior. It suctions itself to the wrist and releases its essence throughout the day in gentle sighs, unfolding and changing almost elegantly. If you encountered the scent in a blind smell test, you might think it was one of those puffy, powdery Guerlain concoctions Parisian girls buy as their first signature scent. In other words, it is far better than it needed to be.


Britney Spears’ perfume operation has continued to thrive and innovate.