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Left to right, Olivier Gillotin, Vice President Perfumer, Givaudan; Kathy Widmer, Executive Vice President and CMO, Elizabeth Arden; Carlotta Jacobson, President, Cosmetic Executive Women; and Ron Rolleston, Executive Vice President, Creative & New Business Development, Elizabeth Arden, at CEW’s Formula for Success panel presentation.
What is the key to creating a top selling fragrance? The subject prompted some surprising responses from the expert panel responsible for the success of Taylor Swift’s Wonderstruck. Convened to discuss their strategies at Cosmetic Executive Women’s latest Women and Men in Beauty series at New York’s Harmonie Club on June 26, 2012, they were welcomed by Carlotta Jacobson, president of CEW, who celebrated an important milestone for the organization, announcing that CEW had exceeded the 5,000 member mark before introducing the evening’s panel, Olivier Gillotin, vice president perfumer, Givaudan; Kathy Widmer, executive vice president and CMO, Elizabeth Arden; Ron Rolleston, executive vice president, creative and new business development, Elizabeth Arden; and moderator, Jenny B. Fine, editor, Beauty Inc.
The presentation, dubbed Formula For Success, highlighted the strategies employed by individuals of diverse professional backgrounds that ultimately coalesced around the success of the Wonderstruck fragrance, a recent phenomenon in the fragrance industry. Among the 1,200 fragrance launches in the last year, only a very few become the standout successes of the year, and perhaps, even become new classics with the possibility of acquiring the status of a top all-time grossing fragrance such as Elizabeth Taylor’s White Diamonds, which has garnered the distinction of being the top grossing fragrance over the last five years.
Clearly, the Givaudan/Elizabeth Arden collaboration, conveying the personal touch of Taylor Swift, created a winning formula for this team. Fine began the discussion with a reference to the bullish positioning of Elizabeth Arden, noting its recent acquisition of Justin Bieber fragrances, two weeks ago, admittedly big news in the industry. Widmer said, “Yes, but celebrity fragrance is a tricky business. In this last year the prestige fragrance business grew 13%, and half of that growth came from Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift.”
Rolleston concurred, “Looking at Taylor Swift, which contributed 57% of the increase in the fragrance category last year, this is a phenomenon. Taylor came to the Arden offices with her entourage, and we took her to all the offices and introduced her to the brand. She knew what she liked, and the fragrance she liked most was a gourmand floral.”
Rolleston continued with descriptions of her role in determining the packaging, saying, “Taylor said she liked one of a kind things; things that sparkled, but not glitter. And she really wanted to do the fragrance. She is remarkably mature, very smart and knows what she likes, and Givaudan and the team brought it together really well,” he said.