NEW YORK — America has voted.

On May 21, more than 38 million people tuned in to watch Ruben Studdard win the vote to become the second American Idol.

Last week, in Atlanta and in New York City, thousands of hopefuls lined up to audition for the next installment of the popular reality series. But while waiting, they got to do some voting of their own — on which of several scents should be the new American Idol fragrance. In New York alone, thousands of people slept out at the Javits Center hoping for their shot at fame — while getting a sniff of fragrances contending to bear the blue and white logo.

Four scents were tested — two for women and two for men, and the final winners will debut in October on an exclusive Web site, Idols-fragrance.com, with plans to launch at retail early next year. That coincides with Fox’s third edition of “American Idol,” where America gets to vote in a new superstar to join Studdard and Kelly Clarkson, the first winner.

Beauty Innovations, through its parent, Scion International, has the rights to market American Idol fragrances. With assistance from Fremantle Media, an international entertainment producer associated with “Idol,” the company plans a big splash around the fragrances. The men’s scent is called Idol Spirit and the women’s is Idol Moment.

Industry sources estimate American Idol fragrances will tally retail sales of at least $18 million per year.

Beauty Innovations debuted the concept at last month’s Efficient Customer Response Management show in Orlando to favorable reviews from buyers who hope it might be the launch to shake fragrances out of the doldrums. Mass market sales have been averaging 3 percent declines for four years. There are few original new scents from the handful of fragrance houses left supplying mass doors.

The U.S. launch will be one of several fragrances available in the 14 countries airing versions of the blockbuster hit produced via Fremantle. The TV concept originated in England, but is also a smash in countries such as South Africa and Germany.

After the Web launch, Beauty Innovations hopes to have a limited rollout kicking off with a mall-based retailer such as J.C. Penney or Sears. To capitalize on the buzz the new season will create, the company hopes to follow that up with a rollout to drug, food and food/drug combination stores. There are also sponsors such as Clairol supporting American Idol, which also raise the visibility of the property. Several of the principals in Beauty Innovations are familiar with marketing celebrity-inspired scents such as Forever Krystle and Carrington, both based on Dynasty.In addition to traditional fragrances, the Idol collection is expected to include body mists, lotions and related items. The initial launch will include a 3.4-oz. eau de toilette priced at $24.50, a 8-oz. lotion at $7.95, and a men’s 5-oz. deodorant body spray for $6. According to a spokesman for Beauty Innovations, the company preferred separate scents for men and women versus a unisex item.

The show’s target demographics fit neatly with Beauty Innovations’ goals. Fremantle estimates the core demographic is between 13 and 24 and Beauty Innovations is aiming its scents at those 18 to 30. Although shoppers as young as 13 may gravitate to the scents, Beauty Innovations has made it aspirational rather than “teen”-looking. A portion of the proceeds will go to UNICEF.

The launch of an American Idol fragrance provides retailers with an avenue to link into an enormously successful TV and pop-music phenomenon. Some retailers attending ECRM said they would try to merchandise the fragrance in locations within their stores that weren’t necessarily near traditional fragrances.

Retailers have traditionally found celebrity-inspired merchandise to be a risk. However, it is hard to debate the success of the first two “American Idol” series. One retailer at ECRM summed it up: “I don’t want to be the one to miss the chance, even if I just get one good season.”

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