December 7, 2012
By Michael Stone, Forbes CMO Network
The world of retail is in the throes of the holiday shopping season, which means display cases are stocked full of celebrity fragrances. Consumers’ desire to smell like their favorite celebrities and be ‘Bieber-licious’ has made fragrance a popular category among celebrities for years. While there is no indication of fragrance slowing down, in fact, sales grew 57% in 2011 according to
, celebrities are looking to make their mark in other categories within health and beauty (HBA), moving beyond endorsements and straight into brand development.To provide additional perspective on why celebrities are pursuing branded lines in other HBA categories, I have enlisted Nicole Desir, Beanstalk’s resident health and beauty expert.
Michael Stone: Why are celebrities moving beyond fragrance to pursue branded health and beauty lines?
Nicole Desir: One glance into the beauty department and the fragrance counter and anyone can see it’s a crowded marketplace. That’s the kind of category fragrance is, so there’s a desire to differentiate. The likelihood of a celebrity fragrance becoming the next Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds (the best selling celebrity fragrance of all time) is becoming less likely as the pace of the fragrance business has continued to evolve and change. While not everyone will achieve Elizabeth Taylor-type longevity, there is a passion among celebrities to bring a product to market that offers a unique, often personal, experience. And if successful, a branded health and beauty line allows the person to transcend the ‘flash-in-the-pan’ type of popularity gained through endorsements to create a much more long-term, sustainable brand.
MS: Celebrities are no stranger to partnerships with fragrances, but how is the approach to developing a line in cosmetics, skincare and haircare different?
ND: As with all forms of celebrity brand licensing, the success of the line is often defined by the celebrity’s vision and commitment. Many celebrities have learned the hard way that clout and fame is not a replacement for product quality, and consumers recognize products that either don’t make sense or are simply poor quality. Just ask Katy Perry, Khloe Kardashian and Snooki, all of whom received criticism for their fragrances.
The celebrity is the connection to the consumer, and in order for the product to resonate they need to be at the forefront, communicating the value and the vision of the product. Some may disagree, but when it comes to building a relationship with the consumer, a celebrity sharing his/her passion and vision is more powerful than their notoriety. Look at Carmindy (Full disclosure, a Beanstalk client) from What Not to Wear – not a household name, but the passion she has for creating accessible quality cosmetics and regimens, which will be reflected in her line, will earn her a lot of trust with her current fan base and with all HBA consumers.
MS: Drew Barrymore recently announced an exclusive deal with Walmart to launch her own cosmetics line. Do you think other celebrities will make the transition from endorsement to branded product, and do you think Drew will be successful?
ND: This will be a very interesting launch to watch. Retailers and consumers alike will be intrigued by her transition from being a spokeswoman for CoverGirl to a full-fledged developer. Developing a line, not to mention one exclusive with Walmart, is no easy feat. Walmart must have recognized that Drew has a strong product vision, as well as the business acumen to understand Walmart’s consumer and drive sales.
As for the second part of the question, there’s a desire among celebrities and retailers to develop deeper relationships which focus on product development, not just endorsement. Therefore, I think we’ll begin to see celebrities developing more exclusive health and beauty lines, possibly skipping the fragrance approach altogether. Salma Hayek, (also a Beanstalk client), launched a cosmetics, skincare and haircare line, Nuance, with CVS. Salma applied teachings from her grandmother and other aspects of her heritage and beauty knowledge to Nuance, which grounded the line in authenticity. I expect to see similar personal touches from other celebrities entering HBA. Also, increasingly, celebrities are recognizing that while they can make good money from endorsements, they are short-lived compared to what a fully branded line can offer in terms of longevity.
MS: Retailers’ commitment is an essential part of the equation. What are the benefits/pitfalls they consider when determining with and whom to work?
ND: Retailers have to take a good hard look at a celebrity’s brand attributes to determine: 1) If they can sustain popularity long enough to sell product, 2) If the celebrity will resonate with the retailer’s consumer, and 3) How the offering will put the retailer ahead of its competitors.
The looming fear for all retailers is that by the time product hits shelves, which usually takes a year from signing to stores, popularity has waned or the celebrity has had a publicity misstep. Although these concerns may be diminished with a so-called A-list celebrity, retailers are still taking chances with celebrities from many genres in order to capitalize on their current popularity or on a particular beauty trend. Bethenny Frankel and her Skinny Girl body care line available exclusively at Walmart, Kat Von D’s cosmetics collection at Sephora and even Snooki’s recent foray into nails and fragrance on HSN are just some examples.
With more market entrants and increasing competition between brick-and-mortar and e-commerce, I expect to see a pick up in exclusive lines as a means to create unique offerings.
MS: So, what’s next for celebrities in health and beauty?
ND: Celebrities will continue to step out of endorsements into more licensing relationships, and ultimately, into the c-suite. There’s not only an interest in product development, but celebrities have also recently shown interest in becoming decision makers and providing a vision for the company as a whole; licensing and part ownership will allow them those opportunities. Jennifer Aniston recently announced her investment in Living Proof, Lady Gaga signed a long-term contract with Coty under which she will develop fragrances and the Kardashians launched their own beauty company, Khroma Beauty.