I’ve written endlessly about celebrity and influencer beauty brands: why there are so many, why some of them work (and why most don’t) and which categories are better than others. I suggested why some famous founders emissions and named quite a few of these brands failures. I analyzed them meticulously by time marketing, product and distribution strategies and the various ways in which celebrities bring their brands of life.
This topic seems particularly relevant this week. Two of the most talked-about celebrity skincare brands of the year debut six days apart, with Hailey Bieber’s Rhode launching on Wednesday and Kim Kardashian’s SKKN by Kim launching on June 21. Bieber, 25, starts with three products that cost less than $30, while Kardashian, 41, is launching a nine-product routine, including an $85 moisturizer and $95 serums.
When a celebrity announces she’s launching a beauty brand — as Kardashian did two weeks ago to build buzz ahead of next week’s launch — a strong emotional reaction is bound to follow. We have been indoctrinated into these enterprises either with bitterness or with delight. Celebrities prefer the latter (although many will happily take the former). I interviewed Kardashian and Bieber in the weeks leading up to their launch, and both acknowledged the dreaded brand of celebrity when a celebrity slaps their name on a product and calls it inappropriate. (Ariana Grande’s “Chapter 3” makeup collection is also out tomorrow.)
“I want to be the majority owner of the brand. I have lent my face and my name to other brands for a long time. I’m not interested in doing it again,” Bieber told me. “I’m too picky and too intentional to let an incubator tell me how I should produce my products, my branding.”
But are the Bieber and Kardashian brands really that different from the lesser-known beauty lines, new products and collaborations that pop up every day, like Fashion Nova, which launched NovaBeauty yesterday? Most makeup or skin care lines, celebrity or not, will not succeed. The market is too crowded and the customer is more demanding than ever.
And yet, we can’t look away, even as people continue to speak out against celebrity beauty brands. Why do Bieber and Kardashian think they have what it takes to make it big?
The American way
We were told that hard work and a good idea is all you need to succeed – the American dream. Or, as Kardashian recently put it, “get your goddamn ass off and work.”
But as the line between celebrity and normal person blurs, or as the time from normal person to influencer or celebrity shortens, the immediacy of monetizing this relatively new fame through beauty causes a backlash.
Responses range from bewilderment (“What does this teenage actress know about skin care?”) to disbelief (“Does this person really use her own products?”) to disdain (“Is it really necessary for this reality star to Gen-Z started a baby line?”). When a celebrity or influencer is particularly polarizing, the backlash is fierce. There’s always a fan base that wants to try their favorite singer’s new fragrance, but we’re mostly skeptical of such ventures. Or maybe it’s in that famous people just have a label and a built-in audience—and the public hates it.
Rod and SKKN take opposite approaches to solving this potential problem. Bieber is a minimalist and Kardashian is a maximalist, but both say their brands are true to how they take care of their skin.
“You don’t need a million things to have great skin. Most of the time, doing less is more. I really wanted to have those edited steps, those edited products,” Bieber explained. “I don’t like things that are difficult and complicated. I want effortless. I want easy. I just want to be realistic, mostly.” She’s all about “fewer steps, fewer products” and can’t wait to go on a website to buy skin care products and see “how there’s a hundred things to choose from, and you just feel lost.”
Then there’s Kardashian, who swears by a nine-step procedure that she knows goes a long way. She admits that her appearance is “not quite natural”.
“I really wanted to just stay true to what I was using, even though everyone was saying it was amazing and there were a lot of products and [most] people launch three or four products,” Kardashian said.
A strong cocktail
A statement of authenticity, even from a celebrity, may not be enough to guarantee success, especially in skin care, a category where trust is harder to gain than makeup. (Most successful celebrity beauty lines, Rihanna Fenty Beauty and Selena Gomez’s Rare Beauty, both of which primarily sell cosmetics.) Celebrity can help drive trial purchases, but that’s about it; then the product must stand on its own to encourage repeat behavior.
Only a famous founder will give you a test, a single product will bring you loyalty, and the combination of the two is a powerful cocktail.
The head of a top talent agency that works on celebrity brand deals (and doesn’t personally work with Bieber or Kardashian) told me that the belief or “why” of both being stronger will be the key to capturing clients. Bieber and Kardashian aren’t convincing followers that their toner or serum is the best, they’re convincing them of their approach, ethos, and mission of skincare. A customer will either subscribe to the Kardashian philosophy of “More is more” or respond to Bieber’s simplistic approach.
If the two products were to go head-to-head in skincare, “you could easily bet that Hailey, because of what she advocates and because she wears less makeup, it could translate better.” , said this man.
Although they position themselves differently, what both brands have in common, aside from the muted gray packaging, is that neither Bieber nor Kardashian described their brands to me as “clean” or “non-toxic “. They used terms like ‘effective’, ‘beautiful hydration’, ‘lifetime glow’ and so on, but none of them mentioned what their products were made without or were ‘free’. For once, it was nice to talk to someone who didn’t point out that their skincare wasn’t made up of a bunch of things that should never be (or shouldn’t be) in skincare.
Rod and SKKN don’t go head-to-head, at least not directly. Despite this, Bieber may find success comes more easily: She is the epitome of the minimalist beauty and skin care she sells. Bieber is extremely likable, non-controversial, and has been talking about skin care and his beauty routine for years. Plus, the products are affordable—her moisturizer costs $29, about a third less than Kardashian’s. On the other hand, she’s also 25 with perfect skin, and it’s unclear if anyone over 25 would want skin care advice from a genetically blessed Gen-Z-er.
Simply put, a celebrity brand drives transactions based on your personality and your perception in the marketplace. For any line to work, one of two things has to happen: people have to like Bieber or Kardashian enough to blindly follow them in whatever endeavors they do, or want to be like either of them enough to buy their skin care. Then time will tell if the products can stand on their own.
https://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/beauty/why-do-we-root-against-celebrity-beauty-brands/ Why are we against celebrity beauty brands?