Economic News, Entertainment, Smart Spending

Celebrity Perfumes and Why We Buy Them

Have you ever purchased a celebrity-endorsed perfume for yourself or someone else? And did you ever wonder how this phenomenon started or who created it? With so many of these scents on the market these days, I was curious as to how this whole niche market began so I decided to do a little research on it.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the first celebrity perfume was created by Elizabeth Taylor in 1988 and named Passion. It was apparently so well-received that it was awarded a Fifi Award (which is considered the equivalent of receiving an Oscar). Taylor created the House of Taylor perfume company that ultimately released 11 different perfumes.

The most famous and still the best-selling celebrity perfume in the world is White Diamonds that Elizabeth Taylor launched in 1991. According to reports, White Diamonds grossed $61.3 million in sales in 2010. While that figure is remarkable on its own, consider the fact that the cost of a 1.7 ounce bottle of White Diamonds perfume on any number of fragrance sites is only about $35, which means the number of people buying this fragrance is astonishing. (An interesting side note is that according to, White Diamonds is rated by the site’s followers as the third worst perfume, being labeled too strong and “granny perfume”, so it must be all the grandmas of the world who continue to make White Diamonds such a strong seller. By the way, the worst perfume, according to the site, is M by Mariah Carey. Oh Mariah, even your perfume is a train wreck.)

Why do celebrities put ouT perfumes? And why do perfume companies like to partner with them? Well, it is fairly simple. It’s all about the marketing, baby.

Since we live in such a celebrity-crazed society, and since “celebrity” can mean anything from a genuine superstar (like the aforementioned Elizabeth Taylor) to famous-because-they’re-famous folks (like Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton), buying a celebrity perfume can represent some kind of connection to the celebrity for the buyer. Some fans will buy anything a celebrity puts his or her name on. And for younger fans – like the Justin Bieber “Beliebers” – buying a relative low-cost celebrity perfume as opposed to a high-priced concert ticket is a way they can show their love for their celeb crush.

And with the increased use of such social media sites as Facebook and Twitter and YouTube, a celebrity can very quickly and, without incurring any cost whatsoever, market and spread the word about their new scent. This saves money for the perfume companies in terms of fewer advertising dollars being spent, which means bigger profits for both the celebrity and the perfume company.

Incidentally, celebrity perfumes are not just for women. According to, the second highest selling perfume in 2010 was Driven by Derek Jeter. (Take that, Red Sox fans). While it’s a scent for men, it is likely that most of the sales were made by women for the men in their lives.

So go ahead and try a celebrity perfume if that’s your thing. But make sure you like it and you’ll wear it before you put your money down to buy it. Because money spent on a bottle of cheap-smelling fragrance sitting in your closet is so not a smart thing to admit to doing.