Sasha Fierce has finally succumbed to the temptations of the celebrity fragrance game: Beyoncé Knowles has signed a deal with Coty Inc. to produce her own perfume.
This story first appeared in the September 15, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Beyoncé’s fragrance — which will be sold in department stores globally — is scheduled to be launched in spring in the Americas, followed by the rest of the world in fall 2010. The deal could be worth up to $20 million for the singer over the next three years, sources estimated.
Although the deal may have been a long time coming, it arrived the day after Beyoncé walked away with several awards at the MTV Video Music Awards, including Video of the Year, Best Choreography and Best Editing.
But the night wasn’t without controversy after Beyoncé (who has often said her onstage alter ego is Sasha Fierce) was passed over for the VMA for Best Female Video — and was defended loudly by fellow singer Kanye West, who jumped onstage and interrupted the speech of the award winner, Taylor Swift. For her part, Beyoncé later invited Swift back onstage to give her interrupted acceptance speech.
Now Beyoncé will have her moment on a different kind of stage this spring. “For me, fragrance reflects a woman’s attitude and unique sense of style,” Beyoncé said. “While I love various perfumes, I haven’t found a scent that truly personifies me as a woman. Working with Coty, I was able to turn my ideal fragrance into a reality by creating an alluring and sophisticated fragrance; one that’s reflective of my inner power.”
Beyoncé has reportedly been wooed by a number of fragrance companies over the last few years, and talk intensified when the singer’s husband, Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, signed a deal of his own this past spring with Parlux Fragrances Inc. It was widely speculated at that time that she would also sign with Parlux. With sales of more than 100 million records and countless awards, including 10 Grammys, Beyoncé was, until this deal was revealed, one of the few remaining superstars, along with Madonna, not to have a namesake fragrance.
While this is Beyoncé’s first fragrance, she’s no stranger to the beauty world. In 2004, she appeared as the face of Tommy Hilfiger’s True Star fragrance, produced by the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc.’s Aramis and Designer Fragrances division, and in 2007, the singer signed on as the face of Emporio Armani’s Diamonds fragrance. She is also one of L’Oréal Paris’ celebrity faces.
It is fitting the company responsible for kicking off the current celebrity fragrance craze in 2002 with Glow by JLo — which did $100 million globally its first year — is the one to sign Beyoncé. However, it’s a completely different game in 2009 than it was when Glow was launched. According to The NPD Group, the total prestige fragrance business from January through July 2009 was down 11 percent, to $1.072 billion. Of that figure, the women’s category is down 11 percent to $724 million, and the total men’s prestige business was down 10 percent, to $348 million. NPD also estimated the average celebrity fragrance generated about $2.5 million in 2008, a far cry from Jennifer Lopez’s payday.
For 2008, sales in the women’s celebrity fragrance category were down by 7 percent, due mostly to the nosedive in gift sets, which account for at least 50 percent of the business. However, according to NPD, sales of the individual fragrance items, like eaux de toilette, or “juices,” were up by 7 percent in the same period.
Still, Bernd Beetz, chief executive officer of Coty Inc., isn’t overly concerned. “This company understands the [celebrity fragrance] market the best and we look for the top talent to sign,” Beetz, who was also responsible for signing Lopez to Coty eight years ago, told WWD.
The Coty celebrity stable now includes Beyoncé, Lopez, Halle Berry, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Sarah Jessica Parker, Gwen Stefani, Celine Dion, Kylie Minogue, Kimora Lee Simmons, Kate Moss, Shania Twain, Victoria Beckham and David Beckham.
To the questions of what Beyoncé is being paid and how long she will be under contract, Beetz retorted, “Next question.”
However, industry sources estimate Beyoncé’s payday will be larger than most celebrity deals, which typically include a $3 million to $5 million upfront payment, along with a percentage of royalties. One source put the Beyoncé deal at $5 million a year, or at $20 million over three years, once extras are included. She commands a larger check, considering her showbiz stature and the fact that many fragrance companies have reportedly tried to woo her before with no luck. Another industry source, however, speculated that the guarantee is no more than $10 million over three years. He cited the depressed fragrance market as a factor. Also, he pointed out that the two fragrances she previously served as the face for did not take off.
“Beyoncé is an ideal partner for us,” said Beetz. “She has a universal presence which reaches across all geographical areas and age groups. People are very interested in her point of view for fragrances — there will be a high expectation from the consumer as to how she will express herself with her scent. We think it will be a blockbuster.”
Beetz declined to give specific details on the fragrance.
Renato Semerari, president of Coty Beauty, called Beyoncé “a role model for women of all ages.”
“She has a powerful ability to capture the attention of the world,” said Semerari.
In addition to a huge advertising campaign — being developed now by Laird + Partners — Beyoncé will do personal appearances to support her scent, said Beetz. “She gives her projects great priority and she has very strong opinions,” he said. “She is involved in a huge worldwide tour, but has made us a priority. We will tie into her [music] tour and schedule appearances. She is very approachable and very sharp.”
When she’s not creating fragrances, singing or acting (recent projects include the movies “Obsessed” and “Cadillac Records”), Beyoncé and her mother, Tina Knowles, continue to design apparel under their House of Déreon label. The line, founded in 2004 and named for Tina Knowles’ mother, Agnéz Deréon, includes ready-to-wear, sportswear, denim, furs, outerwear, handbags and footwear.