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Meet the Conductor—Neil Katz
By: Nancy Jeffries
Posted: September 4, 2009, from the September 2009 issue of GCI Magazine.
Neil Katz, chairman and CEO of Parlux, Inc.
- For a celebrity fragrance to succeed, consumers must identify with the celebrity.
- Celebrity fragrances must play on consumers’ desire for fantasy.
- Fragrance launches and partnerships must ultimately expand the consumer base.
Neil Katz, chairman and CEO of Parlux, Inc., has a beauty business pedigree that goes back to 1973. A savvy New Yorker, the Bronx-born Katz has parlayed Parlux into a powerhouse in the fragrance industry with his unfailing eye for what’s new and what’s hot in music, style and fashion. The Parlux enterprise has launched an array of successful celebrity and designer fragrances under his leadership.
Katz began his career in the marketing research and planning division of Clairol, where he became director in 1975. In 1977, Katz became vice president of market research and trend forecasting at Revlon, followed by a position as president of Revlon’s beauty care division in 1985. In 1991, he became president of Liz Claiborne Cosmetics and joined Parlux in 2006.
Shortly after his tenure began at Parlux, he was appointed CEO, where his ability to recognize and leverage the talents of diverse individuals in the areas of the arts and entertainment gave Parlux a unique standing in the world of fragrance and fragrance licensing. Katz—who earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in industrial psychology, specializing in management and communications—combined his academic background with an apparent innate ability to recognize new and resonant talent, drawing on practical, intuitive and business experience. “I consider the beauty business part of the whole business package, but it is one with a unique approach and a fashion aspect that distinguishes it,” says Katz.
Celebrity and the Marketplace
“The Parlux portfolio,” says Katz, “represents a diverse marketplace, and with the addition of each fragrance and celebrity, it touches a different audience. Certainly, the celebrity fragrance business is a key piece of the overall fragrance business today, and having the success of [the Paris Hilton fragrance] has also enabled the company to extend its reach, most recently to include Queen Latifah.” Parlux, which has invested in building its U.S. department store business, has seen marked growth—both through its enhanced in-store presence, as well as its solidified platform for future growth. “We look at each celebrity as having an audience different from every other celebrity,” says Katz. “When we choose a celebrity, it is because that celebrity brings a new customer to us. The strategy is to add something each time to our targeted groups out there, not to compete in the same groups. It is also important that the company has sales representatives who understand and fit the demographics.”
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