According to WWD, Kylie Cosmetics was reported to have earned $420 million in retail sales over an 18 month period. Not only that but the company is also expected to be worth $1 billion when the owner turns 25. Her half-sister’s brand, KKW Beauty by Kim Kardashian, gained $15 million after Kim’s first collection of make-up sold out within 20 minutes. The enormous successes of the Kardashian-Jenner clan have left us to question the status of celebrity in the realm of beauty.
The last two years have seen a shift in celeb engagement within the beauty industry. From just having influence but leaving the real work to big brands, A-list entertainers are now directly debuting their autonomous labels. In fact, this is not a recent trend. During the 90’s, American actress Elizabeth Taylor launched her own perfume products. Later, stars such as Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and Mariah Carey also joined this market. However, it only really became a phenomenon after Kylie Jenner launched Kylie Cosmetics. Following this success, her half-sister Kim Kardashian broke into make-up world with KKW Cosmetics.
More conventionally, celebrities’ names and faces are used as a form of endorsement. They appear on TV adverts, product catalogues, billboards, or online promotional campaigns, whose aim is to bring the goods closer to the consumer. Historically it is seen as a win-win collaboration. While the brand benefits from gaining the popularity and sales by reaching huge fandoms, the celebrity can be paid anything up to a seven-figure income. To be more competitive on the market, beauty companies have been adding the celeb-ingredient in their product, in the name of collaboration. Last year, Maybelline signed Gigi Hadid to launch their newest range. However, rather than limit themselves to a selective range of products, other firms have often decided to extend to the whole brand of beauty in partnership with celebrities. In 2008, famous tattoo artist Kat Von D partnered with Kendo to launch her namesake brand. Last year, Kendo also introduced Fenty Beauty, a new label inspired by Rihanna.
The quality of celeb-fronted brands still remains controversial. Fenty Beauty has been receiving five-star feedback from customers due to its embracement of racial diversity. Meanwhile, both Kylie’s and Kim’s brainchildren have been splitting the Internet into two opposing groups. Nevertheless, the success of both brands speaks for itself.
It could be said that those jaw-dropping achievements are the result of their original fame rather than the brands themselves. Their respective Instagram accounts have millions of followers. Indeed, it depends on who the customer is. In the case of Kylie Jenner, the millennial seems to dominate. Unlike the older generation, they are strongly influenced by consumerism and commodification. The customers are convinced that the celeb’s characteristics and ideologies are embedded in their product and that by consuming it, they can experience those values. This tendency also can be clearly seen from other female celeb’s, such as Drew Barrymore or Jessica Alba. They also own personal beauty lines by themselves. However, most of their fans seem to be women in their thirties as they are early 2000s stars. Hence, they haven’t achieved substantial market share or public attention.