The Billboard Cover Story - Enrique Iglesias: The Sweet Smell of Success

Enrique Iglesias is no stranger to the highly profitable world of fragrances, having modeled for French-Italian designer Azzaro's popular line of colognes for years. But it still took him a full decade to get onboard with making one of his own -- the last three years of which were spent developing what will soon be Adrenaline, his debut men's fragrance for Coty this summer. "I wore the same fragrance for 10 years," says Iglesias, "so I wanted to make sure I could make something that I loved and liked just as much."

That patience could prove costly -- celebrity fragrances, a white-hot category in 2012 with new products from Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber, declined by 26% in 2013, according to The NPD Group's Beauty Trends report. Still, that accounted for U.S. sales of $103 million and the market, once cracked, can yield dividends for years -- sources say best sellers from Britney Spears and Jennifer Lopez have revenue on par with music sales and touring earnings. One Direction's Our Moment -- which targets the group's young, female fan base -- was the top launch of 2013; it currently ranks as the No. 22 overall prestige women's fragrance, according to NPD.

Though he says he's "not really a fragrance guy," Iglesias has learned how to talk like one. In 2012, he and Coty began sourcing ingredients for a "sweeter, more wood-and-vanilla type of smell," he says, a subdued scent "that doesn't give me a headache, that you couldn't smell from miles away." Iglesias tested scents on his preferred focus group -- girlfriend Anna Kournikova. "She helped me tremendously," says Iglesias. "She'd say, 'This is what I think you will like,' and we'd narrow it down to 20." That process took a little longer than Coty might have liked, notes Iglesias. "There was a moment after the deal was signed and I had a conversation with one of the bosses there, and I told her, 'Until I find it, I don't give a shit. You can have your money back. Until I'm 100% sold on something that I'm going to wear, you can have it back.' "

When Adrenaline launches in August, it will join a men's celebrity fragrances market dominated by Jay Z's Gold (distributed by Parlux/Perfumania). Celebrity scents for males have been fewer and tougher to sell, with research showing that women tend to buy fragrances for themselves and their partners. Coty itself is in business with only two other famous men beyond Iglesias, Tim McGraw and David Beckham.

But Coty vp global marketing Yael Tuil sees Iglesias' strong appeal in the Latin market as a particular selling point. "Enrique's awareness peaks in Brazil, which is the world's largest fragrance market, and hence a country where Coty would like to further develop our presence," she says. "Enrique's distinctive personality offers the perfect tools for building a powerful fragrance house: He is appealing, accessible, cool and engaging."