Recently, another Hollywood star created her own brand and entered the beauty industry. Internationally, dozens of stars marched into the beauty industry such as Chinese star Zhang Ting, Fan Bingbing, Liu Jialing and international stars Rihanna, Scarlett Johansson and so on. But the successful brand is very few.
Theoretically, stars with their own traffic to carry out beauty business should have their followers to buy. But the recent performance of the star-created beauty brand, there is no good results. So, is it a good time for celebrities to create their own beauty brands?
Hollywood actor created beauty brand triggers controversial
“I’ve received a lot of skincare products from brand names, but to be honest, none of them have surprised me as much as the results Le Domaine has brought.” said Hollywood actor Brad Pitt in a recent interview with a magazine. The 58-year-old Pitt has appeared in several films such as “Kalifornia”, “Mr Smith & Mrs Smith” and “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood”. He has achieved remarkable results in his career as an actor, and now he has another identity – the founder of the skincare brand Le Domaine.
For European and American celebrities, who have always enjoyed developing side projects, entering the cosmetics industry by creating their own brands is nothing new. In the past, including well-known singer Rihanna, actress Scarlett Johansson and Millie Bobby Brown, who became famous with “Stranger Things”, have created their own beauty brands. With their own popularity, the brands bring their own starlight from birth. The beauty brands gain no less commercial income to the stars personally than their main business. It also feed the stars’ personal business value giving them a constant source of income.
Although it is common for celebrities to create their own brands. In the case of Le Domaine, founded by Brad Pitt, it seems to be more of a special case in the industry.
The reason why Le Domaine caused so much controversy upon its launch is closely related to the market pricing of the product. According to Le Domaine’s official website, the brand’s skincare products are currently priced from 70 euros($68.1) to 350 euros($340.6), with a 50ml bottle of moisturizer priced at 275 euros and a bottle of facial essence priced at 350 euros($340.6).
It is understood that the price of Chanel Anti-Pollution Cleansing Cream-To-Foam and Man Moisture Cream with the same effect is $66.7 and $120.1 respectively. It is obvious that Le Domaine’s pricing is much higher than similar skincare products in the market.
The higher pricing than similar products in the market makes Le Domaine’s first impression on users not so good. Even though it comes with a celebrity gene, Le Domaine’s fate may not be as smooth as the founder Pitt’s star path.
Chinese celebrities have a low survival rate for their own brands
While European and American celebrities are entering the beauty industry one after another, Chinese celebrities have actually stepped into this blue ocean early on.
In 2013, the skincare brand TST, founded by Zhang Ting and her husband, was launched. Before Zhang Ting and his wife’s accident, by virtue of their extensive network resources in the entertainment industry and inviting a number of entertainment stars to endorse the brand, TST quickly opened up awareness in the wechat business and grew at a snowball-like pace.
However, in 2021, after multiple forensics by the relevant authorities TST’s sales model was deemed a pyramid scheme. In April this year, TST’s operating entity was confiscated $2,677,978 in illegal income and fined $236 thousand. It is understood that up to now TST has not stopped operating and TST-related products can still be searched on major e-commerce platforms. But sales are much lower than similar competing products. This shows that after the pyramid scheme incident, Zhang Ting and its TST brand are also experiencing a huge public trust crisis, and the former micro-business empire is already in the process of collapse.
For other celebrities who have gone into creating their own beauty brands, the road to the brand’s fortunes has been a bumpy one.
In 2014, well-known actress Liu Jialing applied for registration of the trademark “Carling” in the mainland and promoted her own skincare brand Carling series, with the main sales channel coming from micro-businesses. As with most celebrity brands, the market pricing of “Jia Ling” mask is slightly higher than other popular brands, with a total of 6 products with different efficacy launched at the beginning of the mask market, of which a box of 6 pieces of mask market retail price of 198 yuan, which was a high-priced mask at the time.
However, contrary to the bottom line pricing, “Jia Ling” mask sales after the launch was not as satisfactory, the company’s first three months net loss reached 2.33 million yuan, and in the same year was acquired by the Hong Kong-listed Digital Kingdom at a price of 250 million yuan. From the product launch to the acquisition, the “Jia Ling” brand took only 4 months.
In addition to Zhang Ting and Liu Jialing, nearly 10 Chinese celebrities, including Fan Bingbing, Zhang Xinyu, Lin Zhiying and Yi Nengjing, have launched personal cosmetic brands in the past. To this day, there are only a handful of brands that still sell naturally and have relatively wide recognition and influence.
Take Fan Beauty Secret, founded by Fan Bingbing, for example, although the brand is still standing strong with sales of hundreds of millions. However, the actual brand has been listed from March 2018, and over the past four years, not only has the brand positioning undergone adjustments, but the operating rights of the brand have also undergone several twists and turns. At the same time, due to the impact of the tax storm Fan Bingbing comeback is not expected, the brand also faces many restrictions and challenges.
Beauty brands created by stars is not perfect
In the past, a brand which gained 1 billion may need to spend 10 years or more, but now these brand can achieve in 3-5 years. If you add the celebrity halo, the time can be even shorter.
According to a Forbes report, Fenty Beauty, founded by Rihanna, generated $558 million in sales in its first year. Looking at that number alone, the celebrity effect seems to be equated with the brand effect.
However, it is important to realize that the success of Fenty Beauty is not only based on Rihanna’s personal influence, but also on her behind-the-scenes promoter, Kendo, a beauty incubator owned by LVMH. As a luxury giant in the industry, LVMH injected more than $10 million in capital for Fenty Beauty’s product development in the early stages. While Kendo also provided Rihanna with support for the entire industry chain, including marketing, supply and retail channels, penetrating into all aspects to help the brand gain greater commercial value.
Unlike the celebrity beauty myth created by Fenty Beauty with the help of celebrity effect and brand incubator, some Chinese celebrity brands tend to rely too much on the former and lack professional incubator to empower the whole industry chain. On the other hand, in the matter of branding, the halo of stars is not everything. Support of head enterprises is not a million dollar deal, such as the failure of L’Oreal and Beckham’s co-created brand HOUSE 99.
In fact, compared to some popular brands with rich experience and good reputation, most beauty brands that rely on the personal effects of celebrities are one-shot deals that have not established a clear brand culture. They have not yet built up a reputation among the user base, and are rushed to market with various “congenital deficiencies” factors.
With the increasing number of product categories on the market and the competition between old and new brands, consumers are demanding higher quality cosmetics, which is why most celebrity-created brands tend to leave the market soon after a spectacular debut.
In other words, it is not enough to rely on the celebrity effect alone. A brand that continues to sell well is often built on excellent quality control and strong consumer recognition.