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Comparing brand positioning of celebrity skincare products vs. high end equivalents

By Veronica Tran

With the rise of influencers on social media, gone are the days of the traditional celebrity endorsement. However, not all hope is lost for the poor celebs who have fought to stay relevant by launching their own brands in a bid to become more ‘legitimate’ as they dabble in the world of business.

Stars like Kylie Jenner and Rihanna launched very successful cosmetic lines, Kylie Cosmetics and Fenty Beauty respectively, but both were met with disappointment when they tried to branch out into the world of skincare.

Skincare as a category has grown in popularity over the years and consumers are more and more savvy about what it is they’re putting on their faces – there has been an emergence of a skincare community who watch with eagle eyes over new products and their ingredients. So why have celeb skincare products been received so badly of late? Is it down to poor choices of ingredients, or the fact that people don’t trust celebs with their skin in the same way they trust them with their lashes? Or is it simply down to how these products are marketed?

I ran a comparison between all the copy, and product descriptions from the websites of Kylie Skin, Fenty Skin, Kora (by model Miranda Kerr) and Florence by Mills (by Stranger Things actress Millie Bobby Brown) up against Ren Skincare, Sunday Riley, Kiehls, The Ordinary and Drunk Elephant in order to see if any differences emerge between how each category defines themselves.

Just face it

Celebrity brands are infinitely more likely to use the word ‘face’ on their websites and when talking about their products than their counterparts, which is shocking considering the nature of skincare. It’s a mystery, where do the other brands expect us to put it?!! It is just a matter of not stating the obvious and trying not to insult our intelligence?

Taking the high ground

Non-celebrity brands take a lot of space to promote the morality and ethos of their brand by talking about their ‘brand integrity’ and and using it as a selling point. As consumers care more and more about what brands stand for, rather than simply what they sell, this seems to insure against being a victim of cancel culture.

We promise we really care!!

These luxury beauty brands also make sure that they are talking about sustainability and the environment to really drive home that behind the product is an organisation that cares about the world, rather than just skincare. There is  a huge global spotlight shining bright (!) on sustainability – but do you think Greta Thunberg would give any of these her stamp of approval?

Love is in the air

Celebrities on the other hand like to try and pull at the heartstrings of their consumers by talking about their emotions and going into detail about all the love and effort they’ve put into their brand and products – aw how sweet of them (!!) These celebrities are using their own personal brands as their USP by trying to weave their personalities into their products.

Get ’em in the feels

As celebrities are oh-so-concerned with how to convey their emotions into their brands, they also focus on the feels. Now, I tried to be clever here, but we’re actually talking about the feeling of the product on the skin rather than how it evokes feelings. The celebs are really conscious of how their stuff feels on your skin, and so talk about the application as an ‘experience’ rather than a ‘process’.

We give back

The non-celeb brands love to show how philanthropic they are by using words such as ‘serve’, ‘volunteer’ and ‘donating’ to reinforce how strong their moral compass is. These brands employ a clever tactic by creating the feeling that when a consumer supports these brands, they too are supporting charity initiatives rather than simply just purchasing a luxurious skin product.

It is interesting to understand how these brands position themselves and to discover the trends common to each category. The celebrity brands have come off slightly more superficial in comparison, as the non-celeb brands tend to be focused on the planet and what really matters to the world as opposed to simply selling products.

It seems Rihanna, Kylie, Miranda and Mills could learn a thing or two if they want to convince us that they’re not just celebs selling stuff…