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13 Jul 2024 18:31
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  •   Home > News > Business

    Celebrity beauty brands are a billion-dollar business. Beyoncé and Rihanna's latest ventures show where it's all heading

    It's hard to name an A-Lister who has yet to launch their own cosmetics line. As celebrities become less the face of brands and start becoming founders, some of the biggest names show where this billion-dollar industry is heading.

    As celebrities shift away from being the face of brands to becoming founders, it's hard to name an A-Lister who is yet to enter the beauty space.

    Rihanna, Selena Gomez and Kylie Jenner are just a handful of stars who have launched their own cosmetic brands over the years, building empires in what has become a billion-dollar industry.

    When a more natural aesthetic started trending, Hailey Bieber, Millie Bobby Brown and others launched their own skincare lines.

    And while being famous doesn't guarantee success, the increasingly cluttered beauty space is growing yet again as some of the biggest names move into a previously untapped area.

    Haircare is 'booming'

    Rihanna has amassed a net worth of $US1.4 billion ($2.1 billion) thanks in part to the success of her cosmetics line Fenty Beauty.

    Upon its launch in 2017, the line made its mark by releasing 40 foundation shades — a range which has since expanded to include 50 skin tones.

    The brand is co-owned by luxury conglomerate Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessey (LVMH) which allowed it to launch online and in more than 1,600 stores across more than 17 countries.

    Soon after, Rihanna released a skincare line and a fragrance.

    Now, the businesswoman has branched into haircare.

    "You know how much switching my hair up matters to me," Rihanna wrote to her 151 million Instagram followers when announcing the new line.

    "I've had almost every texture, colour, length, from weaves to braids to natural."

    Zara Wong, a brand consultant specialising in the fashion, beauty and lifestyle space, says haircare has been "such a booming growth category."

    "Everyone's been really excited about skin and make-up, fragrance obviously has had a lot of attention," she told ABC News.

    "But the next category which has been sort of seemingly untapped in the overall beauty industry I think is haircare — as well as body care.

    "People are still buying haircare and bodycare products in a chemist but with everyone understanding there's different types of hair types [and] hair concerns, that allows more brands to enter the market or start up new categories that address those concerns."

    Graeme Hughes from Griffith Business School agrees, saying haircare is a "significantly growing space."

    "It's worth about $US100 billion at the moment," he told ABC News.

    "It makes sense for celebrities to be looking at putting a brand into that space.

    "You want to be able to ride that train of growth, so it's a good place to be. There's some smart business minds behind all of this."

    While not yet as crowded as the make-up space, more celebrities are making their foray into haircare.

    Jennifer Aniston, whose "Rachel" haircut was once the envy of millions of women around the world, launched her brand in 2021, as did Queer Eye's Jonathan Van Ness.

    Actors Tracee Ellis Ross, Issa Rae, Taraji P Henson and Priyanka Chopra Jonas have all brought out their own lines as well.

    But by far the most anticipated launch has come from Beyoncé, who released her haircare line Cécred (pronounced "sacred") earlier this year.

    "I grew up sweeping hair in my mother's salon," the 32-time Grammy-winner wrote upon the brand's launch.

    "I saw how she transformed hair by mixing mainstream products with textured haircare."

    While Beyoncé has had multiple fashion ventures in the past with varying success, this marks one of her most deliberate moves into the beauty space.

    "She is quite reticent so she isn't very public-facing in a sort of spoken way that resonates with customers today," Ms Wong explains.

    "[Cécred] could actually do quite well because it is addressing a market that is huge and hasn't been spoken to really so much before, except for in the last like maybe five years or so."

    The wellness-ification of beauty

    The lines between beauty and wellness have become increasingly blurred over the years.

    The wellness industry — which covers any kind of product, service or regime that assists you to become the so-called best, healthiest version of yourself — was estimated to be worth about $US5.6 trillion ($8.5 trillion) globally in 2022.

    "Australia has a high propensity to spend on discretionary product, on luxury product, comparative to our population," Ms Wong says.

    "People definitely have the means and the interest to be spending on wellness, beauty products."

    Mr Hughes says the wellness industry has "absolutely" merged with other industries – especially beauty.

    "It really goes to the empowerment message that they really tend to push in that space and these products really being more than what they do, but what goes in them and also how it makes you feel," he says.

    Just like with fashion, the beauty industry works in trends, Ms Wong says.

    "Ten years ago make-up was all about contouring and trying to make yourself look like something else," she says.

    "Whereas the last few years there has been sort of the pendulum swing where people are talking about embracing your natural beauty, embracing what you look like, and that's the same with hair.

    "Most people tried to straighten their hair or perm their hair or manipulate their hair against what they were born with.

    "More recently, the dominant conversation in haircare is about embracing natural texture and that kind of links to […] that wellness discussion."

    When beauty brands thrive (and flop)

    While celebrity founded cosmetics brands are nothing new, plenty of failed business ventures have proved that being famous doesn't guarantee success.

    "Consumers are very switched on and they know that if a celebrity is just creating a brand or endorsing a brand just for financial gain, then consumers will back away," Mr Hughes says.

    "They won't won't support that."

    Ms Wong says the reason why some celebrity beauty brands thrive comes down to authenticity where the famous face "seems like they really, truly believe in the product."

    "If a celebrity says 'this is my issue and this is what I've addressed with this product', I think that resonates really well," Ms Wong says.

    Selena Gomez made a name for herself through being a Disney Channel triple threat, but in adulthood she's also become a businesswoman whose success has placed her in the same category as Rihanna.

    Her cosmetics brand Rare Beauty launched four years ago with mental health and accessible packaging promoted as some of its core values.

    Gomez is known for being open about her physical and mental health after revealing she has bipolar disorder and lupus, which required her to undergo a kidney transplant.

    Last month, Time Magazine listed Rare Beauty in its list of 100 influential companies.

    "I think it's really, honestly about putting what we believe behind it," Gomez told Time when asked what she believes her brand and Rihanna's have in common.

    "Obviously I can't speak for her, but everything seems so true to who she is."

    As for what the future holds for the increasingly crowded celebrity-founded beauty market, Mr Hughes says inclusivity is key.

    "I saw Harry Styles has the genderfluid nail polish line […] and I thought that's really cool and interesting," he says.

    "Brands that transcend boundaries and are very much more inclusive is something that we're going to see a lot more of."


    © 2024 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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