How do you sell a perfume without letting consumers smell it? Mary J. Blige may be just the woman to find out.
The nine-time Grammy winner, goes on HSN July 31 to pitch My Life, the fragrance she developed with the brand Carol's Daughter. It'll be a live interview supplemented with video of the last seven months creating the scent that is for women "who love tuberose, love jasmine, love fruit," she says. "It's all there."
"It's all a reflection of my personality. Me and a lot of my fans want to smell soft and a little fruity -- but not too fruity with bees chasing us around -- and also strong and beautiful," Blige says.
Shoppers will be taking Blige's word for it. Trying to sell fragrance without giving consumers a chance to smell it first is a new strategy in the industry.
"No one is convinced at the point of purchase because someone sprays a fragrance on them that they are going to love it and buy it," says Steve Stoute, chairman of Carol's Daughter. "It might have used to work but not anymore."
Stoute says fragrances are different from lipsticks or body lotions -- you make a commitment to a fragrance, he explains, with most women not owning a drawer full of them.
"A year ago, we were strategizing and asking, `What could we do to differentiate ourselves in the beauty business?'" adds HSN CEO Mindy Grossman. "The whole experience of buying fragrance now: I don't find it compelling. I think it's a big opportunity. ... Buying a scent is buying a smell, but you're also buying what it means to you, what went into it."
Blige says she has put a lot into it, working on it daily -- and, of course, wearing it daily. "I knew exactly what I wanted it to smell like. I needed to love it and be able to live with it for a few years. I am not impressed with the hot thing."
She resurrected the title, My Life, her successful '94 album because, she says, it's the one that put her in such close touch with her fans.
Expect more beauty products down the road from Blige.
"Being in the beauty business -- and this is my first time ever -- I'm developing my understanding of how it makes women feel and it's everything I've ever wanted to do: make women feel good."
For every bottle of My Life sold, $1 will be donated to FFAWN, a foundation headed by Blige and Stoute that promotes the advancement of women.