In an economy where influencers have come to be viewed as all–knowing voices of reason and truth, the inevitability of celebrity brands shouldn't be a surprise. In the last few years, we’ve seen a spike in the amount of celebrity products—that is, creating their own brands as opposed to being the face of a brand they endorse. These include a diverse array of ventures, from beauty and wellness to fashion and food innovation.
This cutthroat trade is incredibly contingent on how the audience will react to each product which means every move counts. Public responses scrutinize beyond the quality of product, such as how the face of the brand really defines their product, and more importantly, how bona fide the company is. With hundred of substitutes available at our fingertips, buyers are looking for a brand and a face that is transparent, idiosyncratic, and assisting them in articulating their own identities, setting them apart from the others. However, the particular focus on makeup and beauty has become a concentrated branch in celebrity entrepreneurship, and there are carefully crafted reasons for why.
First, the sphere of beauty has an immense market size, making it easier for celebrities to make high profits off the margins with their name alone. In 2020, the total global beauty spending was $483 billion, and the annual total is expected to go beyond $716 billion in 2025. The organic Google search and efficiency in online shopping, paired with the accessibility in large operational chain stores like Ulta and Sephora, have enabled beauty brands and retailers to outperform and break previous annual sale records. In such a lucrative category, entrepreneurs have the ability to diversify their incomes, which is consistently an incentive for celebrities and influencers.
Another commonality in the beauty industry is the trend of “dupes.” Ariana Grande’s Cloud Eau de Parfum received raving reviews for its sweet–scent and lasting effects, while successfully playing the role as an alternative to the expensive Baccarat Rouge 540. The allure of cost–effective dupes frequent many products, such as shoes and clothes as well, but in beauty cosmetics, entrepreneurs are able to simply change the “common” product slightly, while maintaining the same large pharmaceutical R&D components and legitimacy.
The Kardashian–Jenner clan runs the show for celebrity beauty entrepreneurship. Something they do very well is twist derivative products into a whole new light, with their high–quality marketing and packaging. Delving deeper into their ventures like Kylie Cosmetics and KKW—Kim Kardashian’s cosmetic beauty line which is now going through a process of relaunching to abide by the mission that she had set out for—the Kardashian–Jenners have managed to rebrand and adapt their lines which flow well with their personal touch. Brands like these capitalizing on the founder–market fit make their products appear flexible and congruent with the celebrity’s “story.”
In a consumerist economy, buyers are looking for authenticity. The founder–market fit ideology has become exponentially critical in the success of startups, and this applies to celebrity brands just as well, if not more. Aligning between what a startup founder is passionate about, their personal brand, and what they’re selling, allows brands to reflect how motivated they are to position their commodity which correlates with consumer demand. In the pipeline of celebrities indulging in beauty entrepreneurship, brand name success can come more easily if the celebrities simply have an ordinary entrepreneurial mindset while maximizing their large followings.
What differentiates cash grabs from genuine brands lies all in a brand’s mission, innovation, and team. The first aim is to bring a quality product to market. A shitty product won't fly and is an unsustainable platform to bank on. Especially as cosmetics become increasingly competitive over the years, consumers may buy one celebrity–branded product once and never come back. While some companies work with incubators and studios who have multiple clients, the dedication to the brand decreases as the incubators don’t have the ability to enthuse over the products as much as the founder.
Brand alignment is another factor to assess. Fenty Beauty by Rihanna is a contemporary global hit that worships the phrase “Beauty For All.” The brand revolves around the theme of inclusivity, and accordingly, was one of the first brands to branch out into diverse representation in makeup. Fenty has acclaimed much of its success in the market because of how it's an extension of Rihanna herself. The company and its values flow well with what society recognizes Rihanna for, her mission that “women everywhere can be included," which is well depicted through the 40 foundation shades that Fenty released at launch.
Like Fenty, Selena Gomez’s Rare Beauty line has also been applauded for how it stands for mental health. The brand aligning with Gomez, who has advocated for mental health and her personal struggles over the years, celebrates a community where stigma is reduced. With its educational and resourceful website, Rare Beauty lets you know that 1% of your purchase sale goes to the Rare Impact Fund and other philanthropic foundations, with an aim to increase mental health service accessibility, particularly in educational settings.
While these brands have gone above and beyond to exhibit their fervor in relevant issues through their artifacts, Florence by Mills did the exact opposite in its dispassionate and controversial tutorial video where ambassador Millie Bobby Brown allegedly faked using her own product. Big mistake.
In such a competitive market, the key priority is to avoid stagnant engagement and keep propelling innovation. I know, easier said than done. However, with examples like Machine Gun Kelly’s enterprise in UN/DN LAQR—how much can you really differentiate with nail polish?—and Addison Rae’s ITEM Beauty, critics emphasize how these celebrities aren’t bringing anything new to the table.
There’s a lack of trust when it comes to genuineness in this day and age, and celebrities' scope for transactional business adventures are transparent to the eye. The traditional celebrity endorsement isn’t enough to continue churning out beauty brands. Social media has changed the game in how consumers are assessing authenticity in celebrity brands, and especially for younger generations, the dizzying rate of product lines coming out seem to be countering the value of self–expression.