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Do Celebrity Beauty Brands Translate Globally?

With celebrity beauty booming in the U.S., here's a look at how the category is performing in other key markets.

One thing is certain: Over the past couple years, celebrity beauty brands have crowded stores across the U.S., with high-profile names falling over themselves to launch makeup, skin care, hair and wellness lines.

But what does the celebrity picture look like in other key markets?

Here, Beauty Inc. takes a look at four key countries for beauty:

CHINA

For celebrity beauty brands with big fan bases in China, the market seems to be a low-hanging fruit.

According to data from Tmall, Fenty Beauty, the brand launched by Rihanna, has sold more than 100,000 sets of its hero product, Diamond Bomb All-over Diamond Veil, on the e-commerce platform. The store currently has over 1.13 million followers on Tmall.

KKW Fragrance, launched by Kim Kardashian, which is being rebranded, still has an official store on Tmall with upwards of 50,000 followers. Apart from its e-commerce presence, the brand has been shy to push for any promotional efforts in the market. But prompted by Kardashian’s stardom, the brand’s best-seller, KKW Body, has sold more than 5,000 bottles on the e-commerce platform.

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“These celebrity brands have inherent advantages,” said Chen Liang, managing director at consulting agency Éclair Asia. “Their fan base can become a natural advantage, which is helpful in the beginning when the brand wants to open up in the market quickly, but for sustained growth, it all comes down to the product.”

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Localization efforts also help to differentiate brands. Fenty Beauty quickly hired singer Naomi Wang, dubbed “China’s Beyoncé,” as its first brand ambassador when it entered the market in 2019. Known for working with quirky characters, the brand went on to work with singers and talent reality-show stars Keran Lu and Caelan Moriarty as Beauty Face ambassadors.

Despite having no offline presence in the market, Fenty Beauty managed to foster a sense of community by sponsoring Voguing Shanghai ballroom events.

For other celebrity beauty brands, pushing for a retail presence is the most traditional but valuable way to reach potential shoppers.

Last November, celebrity makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin’s namesake cosmetics brand, Kevyn Aucoin Beauty, was acquired by multibrand beauty retailer Harmay from private equity firm Manzanita Capital. According to Harmay, the brand can be found in its 11 brick-and-mortar stores and Mini Program on Wechat. The niche makeup brand has garnered more than 4,100 posts on Xiaohongshu, the popular Chinese social commerce platform. —Denni Hu

ITALY

Italy is not immune to the influence of international celebrities, which makes the country another fertile territory for celebrity beauty business. Some names and brands resonate better than others, and are propelled by prominent beauty retailers Sephora and Douglas, which often stock the most sought-after celebrity labels.

Again, the celebrity beauty pack is led by Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty and its versatile assortment that appeals to different generations of consumers. It occupies key space and brings in traffic to Sephora. Other international brands popular in Italy include Kylie Jenner’s Kylie Cosmetics, Jessica Alba’s Honest Beauty, Millie Bobby Brown’s Florence by Mills, and Miranda Kerr’s Kora Organics, all showcased at Douglas.

Fragrances by celebrities including Jennifer Lopez, Katy Perry and Britney Spears are also distributed in local perfumery chains, but face strong competition as local consumers tend to prefer fragrances by fashion labels, perfumery houses and niche labels.

At the same time, there have been timid attempts for local personalities to replicate a format that is tried and tested Stateside, such as TV host Michelle Hunziker — formerly married to Tomaso Trussardi — who cofounded the skin care, body care and makeup brand Goovi, or Italian model Alice Campello, who established the Masqmai beauty label in 2017. Sephora launched Masqmai earlier this year in Italy.

One of the biggest launches came from influencer-turned-entrepreneur Chiara Ferragni, who at the end of 2021 debuted the first makeup collection for her brand. The launch marked another key hit for Douglas, not only for Italy, but also in Spain and Portugal, too.

Other influencers have drummed up attention in the market, too. These include makeup artist Clio Zammatteo, who made a name for herself as ClioMakeUp, an account of 3.4 million followers, with an eponymous cosmetic brand, as well as Daniele Lorusso, aka @MrDanielmakeup, who shot to fame thanks to his celebrity makeup work and YouTube videos, and is also art director for Nabla Cosmetics.  —Sandra Salibian

U.K.

Celebrity beauty is growing in the U.K. but it’s much less established than across the pond in the U.S., according to Financo Raymond James’ Evan Merali, a London-based investment banker.

While the majority of celebrity beauty brands in the U.K. are American, he said he has seen some successful British players enter the market over the past couple of years.

“The celebrities here in the U.K. who are launching brands have done a really good job of creating authenticity,” he told Beauty Inc. “An example of that would be Trinny Woodall. She’s done an amazing job of building a really, really credible and very well-respected makeup and now skin care brand. She hasn’t just put her name to something. She’s actually bringing something different to the market and connecting with her consumers.”

He also named Caroline Hirons and Sali Hughes, two influencers who are launching a beauty app and a beauty collab respectively, as ones to watch, as they have both built trusted audiences over the years who rely on their recommendations. And let’s not forget Charlotte Tilbury and Pat McGrath — two celebrity makeup-artist brands that are now dominant, global presences.

But that’s not to say that’s the whole market, and there’s still room for a reality show beauty launch. Indeed, “Love Island” and Revolution Beauty, a British-based cosmetics and skin care brand, recently launched a makeup collection. —Kathryn Hopkins

FRANCE

In France, celebrity beauty is a totally different story — Merali describes the market as “very, very unique.”

“It’s dominated by French brands, it’s dominated by L’Oréal and a couple of other independent pharmacy-type brands,” he said, noting that French beauty shoppers generally buy their products in pharmacies or Sephora. “The French market is pretty dominated by French brands and I think French people generally think of themselves as a little bit more sophisticated as it relates to beauty, so it’s less about celebrity and it’s more about product and brand.”

There are exceptions, though. Makeup artist Violette’s brand Violette FR’s serum, moisturizer spray and dry shampoo brush can be found in pharmacies in Paris and Marseille, a dream realized. “It’s because it’s where French people actually buy our skin care and hair care,” she said at a WWD Beauty CEO summit in November, noting the benefits of in-store pharmacists educating consumers on products. “Not even the first day of launch gave me that emotion. What gave me emotion was to see my product sitting on the shelf of a pharmacy.”

And Jeanne Damas, the French influencer and entrepreneur behind Rouje, recently relaunched the brand’s beauty offering as it prepares to expand into skin care. She also hopes to open a separate beauty boutique near her office in Paris. —Kathryn Hopkins