It’s not celebrity fragrances that are passé — it’s the way retailers are merchandising them. That has been the argument for some time of Parlux Inc. chief executive officer Donald J. Loftus.
Now he has his chance to prove his point. This week Parlux introduced a shop-in-shop at a Carson’s branch in Evergreen, Ill.: a mobile, walk-in room shaped like a theatrical trunk that roughly measures 11.5 feet by 20.5 feet. The space holds 500 stockkeeping units of fragrance. At Carson’s, more than 20 scents are featured, including brands by Rihanna, Sean John, Paris Hilton, Jessica Simpson, Pitbull and Sofia Vergara. Touting a variety of older and newer fragrances, the shop-in-shop isn’t tied to any new launch — just the overall case for celebrity fragrance. Parlux thinks it will solve the problem of flagging celebrity fragrance sales by showcasing its Hollywood offerings within their own separate interactive environments.
“What’s always been a problem with this category is that celebrity fragrances for years have just been merchandised in with the fragrance department,” said Loftus. “They’re next to Chanel and Dior and Gucci and Ralph Lauren — it really is a more specific customer than that.” Loftus said the customer who is eager to acquire a product endorsed by her favorite celebrity skews younger, and she’s probably not shopping in the designer fragrance department — she’s in the juniors section. “You wouldn’t put prom dresses next to couture,” said Loftus. “It should be fun and interactive.”
In the shop-in-shop, there’s a photo booth that allows the user to look like she is on a red carpet, a DJ booth for special events, and screens to watch the video ads for each fragrance — when a customer picks up a Rihanna fragrance, the ad for that scent will begin to play on a screen next to where the bottles are displayed. All of this is to encourage fun, play and social media engagement around shopping for celebrity fragrance.
“The consumer has never been disinterested; the retailer has just decided it’s too much work,” Loftus said. He pointed to fragrances by Rihanna and One Direction as examples. “There’s no question that One Direction launched a fragrance like a rocket and the next season it doesn’t sustain,” said Loftus. “It’s like junior fashion — it’s faster.” Loftus noted that that launch power can be sustained if there’s excitement to be found in the shopping experience.
While Parlux does not divulge sales results, industry sources indicated that within the first three days of opening, the shop did $6,400 in sales. That’s about 70 percent of the revenue Parlux’s celebrity fragrances generate in that particular store annually.
The mobility of the trunk’s design allows it to be placed anywhere within a store or even out in a high-traffic area of a mall. “If this works, we hope to go back to all our retail partners,” said Loftus. He also added that what’s good for celebrity fragrance is what’s good for department stores. In a climate where department stores are trying to attract younger customers, he thinks this is the way to lure them in. “The person we’re addressing is much younger. She buys her clothes at Forever 21 and H&M,” said Loftus. “This is an opportunity to bring her back.”
He noted that the age of the average department store customer is 57.