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Coty Exec. Reveals 3 Celebs Women Trust

Halle Berry

Nothing smells sweeter than success.  And in the perfume business, celebrity branding has made dollars in "scents," generating $150 million in sales. CNBC's Jane Wells has a nose for what's hot.

Catherine Walsh of Coty's Prestige Line sells fragrances from Gwen Stefani to Sarah Jessica Parker to J-Lo, who really launched the craze 4 years ago.  Today celebrity scents account for 30% of sales. "They have clearly brought the teenager back into the dept store," Walsh said.

Research show that 90% of women 18-24 use perfume, but only 60% of them buy it.  That leaves tremendous market potential. 

And when asked which celebrities these young women like and trust in choosing products three names came up time and again.

"The three that came up absolutely top were Kirstie Alley. They believe her, they trust her. Sarah Jessica Parker and Halle Berry." (Only Parker has a perfume.)

And its an increasingly crowded and competitive fragrance counter with 23 new celebrity scents just this year.

Of course, not everyone wants a star.   Emmanuel Saujet sells Hanae Mori and Creed fragrances.  His sales have grown a whopping 2400% in 10 years.  He's purposely avoided using celebrity endorsements. "We believe the product is good enough just as it is," said Emmanuel Saujet.

The there's the issue of over-exposure.

"Britney Spears' fragrances have done extremely well, however in our recent study consumers told us that sometimes seeing her in an ad actually makes them not want to buy it," added Walsh.

But her second fragrance is selling well too.  "Oops - she did it again!" -- Meanwhile the industry keeps nosing around for the next big tie-in.

German consumer goods giant Joh. A. Benckiser GmbH acquired Coty in 1996.