When Beyoncé wore Glossier products to the Grammy Awards on Sunday, her fanbase and that of the millennial-favorite beauty brand were sent into a virtual tizzy. Already the perfect union for creating buzz, Glossier helped drive the conversation even further by hinting that Beyoncé was wearing a mysterious as-yet-unreleased new product.
It’s unclear what impact this moment had on the brand’s sales, but on a red carpet filled with beauty product placements, any impact attributed to Beyoncé’s immense star-power and Glossier’s cultish following was likely the exception.
A new study from the beauty app company Perfect365 surveyed 1,200 women globally to find out what or who was driving most of their beauty purchases, and celebrities came in last.
Focusing on lipstick purchases specifically, the study found that only 5 percent of shoppers were moved to purchase a lipstick after seeing it on a celebrity. Comparatively, 26 percent purchased a new lipstick after seeing it in store, 16 percent bought it after seeing an advertisement, and 15 percent were inspired to buy after seeing it on social media. Even the department store beauty counter trumped a Hollywood endorsement: 14 percent of women reported buying new lipstick after a recommendation from an in-store associate.
Women who spent the most on lipstick (above the average of $6-$10) were also moved the least by celebrity associations. Instead, they were willing to spend the most on the product after receiving a recommendation from a friend (32 percent) or seeing it promoted online by a beauty influencer (19 percent).
These results are in stark contrast to the popularity of celebrity-run brands like Fenty Beauty and Kylie Cosmetics, which routinely sell out and have given traditional beauty giants a run for their money. But that’s a different beast, said Hélène Heath, a senior editor at the visual intelligence firm Dash Hudson: “They’re highly involved in all aspects of the brands they launch, from development to production, to marketing and branding, to evangelizing.”
And yet beauty roundups detailing every single product a celebrity wears on the red carpet abound: Elle, Byrdie and Harper’s Bazaar were just some of the publications that covered beauty looks at the Grammys this year. Similarly, press releases from makeup and skin-care companies are still blasted out, with many promoting barely detectable details like nude nail polish or moisturizer.
These practices also take place, to unclear effect, during fashion week, when beauty brands are responsible for a runway look or when someone in the front row rocks a certain product.
One editor of a popular beauty site noted that, although celebrity-centric stories result in lots of traffic, they tend to see less click-through on the corresponding links that drive to purchase, especially compared to those posts that really highlight a brand or product for what it does.
“Readers seem to look to [stories] more for total-look inspiration, than specific product recommendations,” she said.
The hyper-focus on which celebrity is wearing what, and when, may be better spent elsewhere, according to Heath.
“As brands navigate this shift in consumer behavior, influencer marketing [will likely] become even more appealing to companies,” she said. “They’ll have to focus increasingly on ambassador programs and the power of word-of-mouth [over celebrity placements].”