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Has The Golden Era Of Celebrity Beauty Brands Run Its Course?

May 10, 2024

Marketing News

Has The Golden Era Of Celebrity Beauty Brands Run Its Course?

Once upon a time, celebrity involvement in the beauty industry began and ended with the assignment of their face to a fragrance ad campaign or two. Fast forward several years and celebrities are now becoming the face of their own brands. 

The early success of the likes of Kylie Cosmetics and Fenty Beauty has catapulted celebrity beauty brands to new heights; heights that are typically only achieved through years worth of hard work.

In the last 3 years, more than 50 celebrities have launched their own cosmetics, haircare and skincare lines. From Travis Barker to Lady Gaga, celebrity beauty brands have made the biggest impact in the colour cosmetics and fragrance categories, growing celebrity beauty by 57.8% between 2022 and 2023; a stark contrast to the general market growth of 11.1%.

However, if the numbers are in favour of celebrity beauty brands, why are we seeing more and more of them filing for bankruptcy and throwing in the towel?

In January alone, Kristen Bell shut down her CBD skincare line Happy Dance, Sephora stopped selling the brands of TikTok stars Addison Rae and Hyram Yarbro, and Ariana Grande paid $15 million to buy the physical assets of r.e.m beauty from Forma Brands. In more recent news, reports suggest that Rare Beauty founder and owner, Selena Gomez, is even considering selling the brand valued at $2 billion, leading us to question the true sustainability of celebrity beauty brands.

Read on as we explore the driving forces behind some of the most successful celebrity beauty brands of 2024, as well as the limitations forcing others into administration, which includes consumers ditching the labels for products that speak to their souls (and skin). Get ready to discover why quality trumps celebrity in today’s beauty game.

THE SECRET TO SUCCESSFUL CELEBRITY BEAUTY BRANDS

When we think of the most successful celebrity beauty brands to come out of the industry, naturally our minds wander towards the likes of Fenty Beauty, Rhode, Haus Labs, Rare Beauty etc. But what is it they do exactly to warrant reigning supreme among their cohort?

They just make sense

It’s one thing to have an idea for a new beauty product, but if the person endorsing it has no prior affiliation with the beauty industry, things can become confusing. Take Rihanna for example. She was already a celebrated fashion and beauty icon before launching Fenty Beauty. Similarly, Lady Gaga has been known for her bold makeup looks for decades, naturally easing Haus Labs’ transition into the industry. You wouldn’t buy a new TV from someone who specialises in hot tubs and the same applies to the beauty space.

They speak their audience’s language

Celebrities are under constant scrutiny for being so-far-detached from reality, but in order to launch and maintain a successful beauty brand, target-consumer-understanding is key. Gen Z is often the prioritised generation in the beauty space, leaving older consumers on the back burner, but brand founder Trinny Woodall has managed to tap into this gap in order to skyrocket Trinny London to success. Putting this core customer base at the forefront of everything it does allows the brand to speak to the over 35s and really address their concerns, rather than just jumping on the latest Gen Z TikTok trend. In turn, this has encouraged consumer loyalty.

@julipagemorganbeauty

The best primer ever, no contest! #beauty #over50beauty #over60beauty #over40beauty #julipagemorganbeauty #matureskinmakeup #over50makeup #makeup #over60makeup #makeupover60 #matureskin #primer #trinnylondon #trinnylondonmiracleblur @Trinny Woodall

♬ original sound – julipagemorganbeauty

They have clear brand narratives and aesthetics

As we know, authenticity is key for those looking to make it big. Consumers can see right through disingenuous marketing and product launches and tend to gravitate towards the celebrity beauty brands that adopt a deeper meaning or purpose. 

A large amount of Fenty Beauty’s success over the years is owed to the brand’s championing of diversity, for which Rihanna was already a known advocate. Diversity is at the core of everything the brand does, from shade ranges to matching campaign models, and this is immediately noticed when visiting any of the brand’s socials or website. Similarly, Selena Gomez has aligned Rare Beauty with mental health awareness through the Rare Impact Fund. Again, this makes sense to Gomez’ personal brand, as she’s been open about her struggles before.

@fentybeauty

A glowy foundation that works for all skin types? Say less! Our *NEW* #SoftLit Naturally Luminous Longwear Foundation’s innovative formula gives you radiant, medium-coverage for ALL skin types — from dry, to combo, to oily. ​Apply with the new 145 brush for a flawless #SoftLitGlow finish ✨ Find your #SoftLitFoundation shade at @sephora + the #FentyBeauty site 🖤

♬ original sound – Fenty Beauty

They create significant cultural moments

The Rhode lip case is a perfect example of a brand finding simple, yet effective ways to insert itself into its audience’s everyday lives. Not only was this a useful innovation, but it also ensured Rhode and its products are featured in a lot more mirror selfies, organically boosting brand awareness. Similarly, Rhianna did this when she broke the internet by touching up her makeup during the Super Bowl halftime show (with her own products of course).

@rhode

@stephhui + the lip case 📱✨

♬ Nature Feels x Frank Ocean – wunderlandfilms

They continue to grow with their audience

The fast-paced nature of the digital landscape sees many celebrity beauty brands fall off for simply not being able to adapt and roll with the times. When Kylie Jenner launched Kylie Cosmetics at the age of 17, it was a global phenomenon, but fast forward eight years and it appears the brand hasn’t been seen to grow with her fanbase, in part due to its reluctance to move across to TikTok where most of them congregate. 

Fenty Beauty and Haus Labs on the other hand have exercised their social listening skills to determine where their core consumers prefer to assemble and meet them here with authentic, high-end brand campaigns. 

@hauslabs

A look into our #2024moodboard 💚✨ #HausLabs #cleanbeauty #pinterestaesthetic #lightwavetoearth

♬ Primrose – Kupla

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE CELEBRITY BEAUTY BRANDS THAT DIDN’T MAKE IT?

The over-saturation of the beauty industry has made it a difficult place to survive, even for celebrity beauty brands with access to the greatest accountants and disposable income to spare. 

But why is this?

Consumer wants and needs are changing

Simply put, consumer wants and needs have drastically changed since the days of Zoella merch and Britney Spears Fantasy perfumes. Today higher-quality products infused with beneficial ingredients are sought after instead of the name attached to the product. 

Take the Haus Labs Triclone Skin Tech Foundation, for example. Not only is the brand renowned for its championing of diversity and encouragement of creative makeup, but also its dedication to infusing its products with some of the highest quality ingredients and formulaic blends on the market. This proves the brand’s social listening skills as it speaks to the wider issue surrounding the rising cost of beauty-related products not always equating to quality. Consumers today are more cautious about where they spend their money, ensuring that it’s spent on worthy products – celebrity-owned or not – and Haus Labs understands this.

The educational nature of social media platforms like TikTok offer beauty-curious consumers a lot more information on what they should be looking for in formulas, packaging and products nowadays. Think about how the Drunk Elephant Generation came to be. Celebrity beauty brands need to keep up with this and recognise that the wool can no longer be pulled over people’s eyes.

Desired products aren’t what they once were

Alongside the demand for higher-quality products, consumers now want very different products to what they did a decade ago. Skincare-infused complexion products are now taking precedence over the once highly-sought-after coloured eyeshadow palettes and the idea of makeup memorabilia has now worn thin. 

The modern consumer doesn’t want to pay $20 for a shimmery lip gloss with a celebrity name plastered on the side that they’ll most likely only wear once, especially when that money could be invested in a skincare, haircare or makeup product that could boost their confidence and benefit their skin/hair.

Take Item Beauty by Addison Rae for example. Though she positioned her brand as a science-backed, healthier alternative to traditional cosmetics, this was not evident in the few products she initially launched with, leading consumers to believe that all she was launching with was a few lip products, a mediocre mascara, and a powdery bronzer duo. While high-quality formulas were what consumers back in 2020 were after, Rae failed to promote this, ultimately leading to Sephora pulling the brand from its shelves and its general downfall.

@wayflyerapp

💄Beauty can be a beast of a business, as ITEM Beauty unfortunately discovered 🙅‍♀️ Addison Rae’s D2C brand was pulled from Sephora shelves earlier this year, and now the site and social media profiles have gone MIA🕵️Will ITEM Beauty make a comeback or will Addison have to pivot her influencer skills elsewhere? #ecommerce #dtc #brand #ecom #founder

♬ original sound – Wayflyer

WHAT DOES THE FUTURE LOOK LIKE FOR CELEBRITY BEAUTY BRANDS?

Today, finding a celebrity-owned beauty brand whose founder is truly in it for the long haul and not just to pose for photos in a lab coat, is hard to come by. Too often we’re fed the portrayal of these celebrities “running a company”, when their personal investments are nowhere near. This is why celebrity beauty brands are reeling. 

Consumers are becoming increasingly disenchanted by the notion of famous people touting their beauty products, especially when they’ve never once publicly shared their beauty routines, for extortionate prices. Granted, there are a few celebrities out there who truly want to be intimately involved in their companies, but, generally, the idea of a celebrity founder is largely a farce. If all it took was a celebrity megaphone to enhance a brand there would be a lot more success stories.

Maybe it’s time to rethink the professional relationship between celebrities and beauty brands.

Our influencer marketing agency and social agency are located worldwide, with our agency network based in the USA, UK, UAE and China.

If you want to find industry insights, visit our influencer marketing and social media blogs.

@sociallypowerful

Author

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Shannon Maher

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