Is fame enough to sell beauty? – World Water Day

It seems like every week a different celebrity is launching a new beauty brand, from Kim Kardashian to Hailey Bieber to Pharrell Williams to Scarlett Johansson to Harry Styles to Selena Gomez to Gwen Stefani to Machine Gun Kelly to Jennifer Lopez to Lori Harvey, to name but a few. Some.

Due to the huge following of celebrities on social media, there is usually a lot of anticipation surrounding these releases. But while it’s hard to tell how many of these businesses are going after their initial debuts without hard sales figures, the general consensus among experts is that beauty can be a difficult market for celebrities to find lasting success.

Even Lady Gaga’s stratospheric levels of fame, to name just one, don’t guarantee that consumers will clamor for what’s selling. After failing to make a splash, her makeup line recently changed lanes with a new name and a new partner.

“The fame of celebrity names alone doesn’t have the appeal that it did in the ’80s,” said Lan Vu, CEO of Beauty Streams. “Today’s consumers are smarter and more demanding, and they want brands with substance. Commercialized stardom alone is not enough.”

That’s not to say that longevity is unattainable, though, and while there tends to be a set blueprint for these brands, there’s a lot of trial and error between celebrities and their sponsors.

Unsurprisingly, many of these celebrity lines begin with a call brand creators or incubators such as Beach House Group (Millie Bobbie Brown’s Florence by Mills and Tracee Ellis Ross’s Pattern), Maesa (Drew Barrymore’s Flower Beauty) and Unlisted Brand Lab (Machine Gun Kelly’s nail polish line, Unlisted Brand Lab). /Dn Laqr) that have the relevant contacts and processes for the launch of companies.

In some cases, the brand creator has already come up with the brand scheme before approaching the relevant celebrity.

“Celebrities are not vertical manufacturers. None of these famous brands have large factories that produce the product,” said Steph Wissink, an analyst at Jefferies. “Everything is outsourced. These platforms are really just aggregators of relevant relationships to activate a brand and the celebrity provides the pathway to build awareness.”

While it may seem obvious, Wissink emphasized that products must work, be consistently good, and that supply must be available along with the halo effect of awareness to build consumer confidence to purchase again. “That is the ideal formula. You have conscientiousness, efficiency and operational skill and distribution. Incubators build relationship equity in three of those four places: celebrity builds awareness.”

For celebrities, the first rule of marketing is a large social media following that they can convert into sales. The unmatched queens of this are sisters Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner, now both affiliated with Coty Inc., who spent a combined $800 million for a 20 percent stake in Kardashian’s business and a majority ownership position in Kylie Beauty.

“What works well for celebrity beauty brands in terms of marketing is their pervasiveness across multiple social media channels,” Vu said, “and the more engaged the celebrities are, the better.”

But, he warned, a huge social media following isn’t enough these days with consumers smarter and more educated than ever. “Consumers love to get a human feel for a brand, so sneak peeks, personal storytelling and behind-the-scenes type of content work well. Additionally, consumers want transparency, so they prefer brands that represent values ​​they share, such as vegan, clean, sustainable, LGBTQ, inclusive, etc,” she said.

Wissink agreed that the consumer now approaches celebrity brands with a degree of skepticism in terms of how engaged the celebrity really is. “One thing we have noticed about famous brands is that there has been an evolution in the way they use their followers on social media. In the beginning, it was just a purely one-way awareness — celebrity posting about the brand,” he said. “But now you’re looking more and more at celebrities actually showing their involvement in the process as a way of legitimizing that it’s more than just a label, it’s not just Skkn by Kim tagged on a product, it’s actually Kim talking about the process. . in which they selected all the options to reach the skus with which they were finally launched. Whether it’s window dressing or the real thing, there’s more openness and transparency around the level of participation.”

Hailey Bieber, for example, made it clear in multiple interviews about the launch of her Rhode skincare brand that she was very committed to the process. “During the pandemic, I really immersed myself in the products and ingredients that I know and really love, and learned why they work so well,” she told WWD. “It wouldn’t have made sense to me if I said I was shooting with 14 eyeliners, it’s not my thing. These are products I use on a daily basis.”

As for what the product actually looks and feels like, Lucie Greene, founder and CEO of consultancy Light Years, cautioned against toning down, meaning the aesthetic appears completely interchangeable. She posited that Kardashian pulled it off with her nine-step skincare system offering, which is both differentiated and interesting. “It is not a hero product. The system is the hero,” she said.

To avoid insensitivity, Kirsty Minns, Executive Creative Director of Mother London, believes that celebrities should really understand what their audience wants and be true to themselves rather than trying to emulate another celebrity.

“To make a successful brand, you have to be distinctive within the market,” he said. “The ones that feel they are having the most success are the ones that stand out from the rest of the beauty brands.”

Minns cited Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty, owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, as the winning formula when it comes to the brand. “Those who have built brands are not just looking for a quick cash win and have actually spent time building their brands and spent time on a brand that exists only without celebrity endorsement,” she added. “From that point of view, Fenty Beauty is a great example of a celebrity who has done it in a way for a brand that could stand the test of time.”

Then there are the stockists. When Lady Gaga launched Haus Laboratories in 2018, it was the first beauty brand to partner exclusively with Amazon. Fast-forward to 2022 and the newly named Haus Labs has been relaunched exclusively at Sephora. The reason? The company was not as successful as expected and the brand is looking for more traditional routes to get its products into the hands of consumers.

“It’s probably less about brand visibility and more about the platform,” Wissink said. “Amazon just isn’t known for premium beauty. It is very much a value beauty destination. It was an attempt by Amazon to get into the premium beauty space, which has been really difficult for them. Amazon is a great place to monetize awareness, but not a great place to build awareness.

“Ulta and Sephora are places you go for healing and validation,” she added. “If you arrive at Ulta or Sephora, you have been selected by their buyers, who have the pulse of the industry. In beauty, Ulta and Sephora are like the fashion editors at Vogue. They are believed to be the closest to what is fashionable.”

Others like Skkn start out as direct-to-consumer before hitting stores, while Bieber’s Rhode is only available on their website. These models tend to have small volume runs to avoid significant inventory risk. Most experts believe that they will eventually end up in stores. Meanwhile, smaller print runs mean it will sell out sooner, which helps build excitement.

And when it comes to pricing, which spans both ends of the spectrum for celebrity beauty brands, the jury is still out.

Towards the top of the pile is Kardashian’s pricey $630 Skkn by Kim nine-step system, which includes a toner, scrub, hyaluronic acid serum, vitamin C8 serum, face cream, eye cream, drops of oil and a night oil. At the other extreme is Bieber’s Rhode, with all items priced under $30.

It’s too early to determine the success of these ranges, but Wissink thinks it will be very interesting to see how Bieber’s brand fares, as celebrity-owned lines aren’t as common in the mass market.

“Usually we see collaborations with mass: Colourpop and Morphe and some of the collaborations of makeup artists or celebrities that they have done. Elf is another one who does a lot of collaborations. One exception was Drew Barrymore’s Flower Beauty which went to Walmart. It’s okay. It certainly doesn’t have the volume that we see in some of the big, high-profile brands.”

As for the success of Skkn’s high price, only time will tell.


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