Are celebrity endorsements and collaborations saving the high street?

High street and online retailers are using celebrities and bloggers to endorse their products, now more than ever. It is becoming increasingly popular for fashion and beauty celebrity collaboration ranges and for celebrities to endorse various products on social media, on a daily basis.

To name a few; well-known 19-year-old model, Hailey Baldwin has put her name to a make-up line with ModelCo and a shoe line with Public Desire (within 4 months of each other), Kendall and Kylie Jenner teamed up with Topshop, there was Rihanna X River Island, the TOWIE girls have endorsed Select Fashion all over social media and Nicole Scherzinger has a range with Missguided.co.uk (who have also featured Pamela Anderson and R&B singer Pia Mia in various campaigns).

I investigated how these celebrity endorsements are affecting retailers, how brands pick the right celebrity and whether it does affect likelihood of buying a product if a familiar famous face is seen endorsing it or putting their name to it.

When we browse shops and see the name of a celeb we love, or scroll down Instagram and see our favourite reality star wearing a brand we can afford, we are instantly attracted. But how do companies choose the right celebrity to go with their brand?

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Harpreet Chhatwal, Director and Strategist at digital marketing company, Out To Sea, said that “it isn’t always easy to predict the effect a celebrity/influencer is going to have on a fashion brand’s growth” as there are many factors to consider. When speaking of these factors, he said:

“The most important factors are: How influential the celebrity is. Some celebrities can have a tremendous impact on a brand regardless of all other factors. Look at the effect Kanye has had on Adidas and his own Yeezy brand, Rihanna had on Boy London, and Kendall Jenner has on pretty much any brand she is spotted in.

“How large is their audience? How engaged is it? Having a million followers is great, but are they actually engaged? How authentic the endorsement is: Depending on the brand authenticity can be important to some audiences, but sometimes the influence of the celeb can override this (e.g. Kanye, Rihanna, Kendall).

“Whether the brand/product is actually appealing to their audience: This may seem obvious, but sometimes brand’s think a big name/following = big sales/growth. This is not always the case.

“Whether the celebrity is appealing to your current/potential audience: Is this the right look for the brand? Will this celeb put your current customers off? Or if there are plans to reach new audiences in the future will these endorsements put them off?”

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Out To Sea’s clients include Whistles and Nicce London, who have seen many celebrities supporting their products including Wretch 32 and Rudimental. Out To Sea’s Director, Harpreet, goes on to say:

“The key thing for brands is to ensure they have a clear strategy in place for how this influencer aligns with their brand, the message they want to communicate to current & potential customers, and how they plan to measure success.”

However, it can go wrong and when a celebrity misbehaves; brands can decide to drop them from their endorsements. The obvious example being Tiger Woods losing many contracts in 2009 and 2010 – such as Tag Heuer and Gillette, due to his alleged sex scandals. Also, Kate Moss was dropped by Chanel and Burberry in 2005, due to alleged drug abuse. Matt Williams, director at Ipsos MORI Reputation Centre wrote about his research in 2011 on Campaign Live, saying: “Our latest research shows that a quarter (27 per cent) of global citizens say they would consider stopping buying a product if a celebrity that endorses it is reported to be engaging in personal misbehaviour. “

Hayley Smith is the owner of Boxed Out PR, a PR and marketing company working with fashion brands who use social influencers and celebrities endorsements. Boxed Out PR have worked with celebrities such as Jessica Alba, Lillie Gregg, Gary Beadle and the watch brand, Lord Timepieces who have used Mark Wright (2014 winner of The Apprentice), and many more.

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Hayley said: “I have seen several fashion brands and other businesses who have failed because they have selected the incorrect celebrities. Celebrities need to reflect the brand, and where you want to place it.”

So why is it we buy into these collaborations and endorsements? It seems that young women are the most likely to invest in them. In 2014, the Daily Mail reported that researchers had found that of those who had bought a product because of celebrity endorsement, there were double the amount of men (854 respondents). They said that the Harvard Business School’s study The Economic Value of Celebrity Endorsements proved that “66 per cent of celebrity endorsed product buyers were women. 34 per cent of celebrity endorsed product buyers were men.” Within this research, they also found that “more than two fifths (41.2 per cent) of those who answered ‘Yes’ were in the youngest age bracket of 18-24.”

Talking on why this is such a successful strategy now, Hayley said:

“Celebrities can change the direction of a brand overnight, and usually all it takes is an Instagram post or tweet. It is a strong marketing strategy to use. Nowadays, celebrities are more accessible than ever, and using them to promote your brand makes consumers feel even more connected to them.

“Using celebrities and influencers can be more cost effective, and have a stronger outreach. Also, using them can build a social following. I know if I get one retweet from a celebrity, my following goes up dramatically in a short period of time.

“Celebrities are influential, and in the age of Instagram and social media, and platforms such as Depop, they are responsible for influencing and setting trends and fashion. It isn’t a coincidence that there has been a rise in reality TV stars on the FROW, or as brand ambassadors.

“Also, there has been an increase in social influencers being used in large brand adverts. They have a voice, they have huge platforms and people listen to them. They are successful because they are accessible, and consumers buy into that.”

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So, is this a reflection on society? Are we more likely to buy a product because we have seen a famous face or name next to it? Or is it just that the world is more celebrity focused these days? Hayley Smith thinks social influencers, such as bloggers, have put it on the marketing map.

She said: “Social influencers and bloggers are ‘real’ people, and are extremely accessible. Consumers can be them, it is extremely possible. Also, consumers are becoming savvier and can tell the difference between advertising and promotion. This is why traditional advertising is declining. So they understand that when an influencer promotes something, whether or not they are being paid, because it needs to be in line with their blog/platforms/interests/lifestyle (you are never going to have Kim Kardashian promote a Ford car, regardless of cost, it just won’t work), there is a truth about it, so people are more likely to buy into it over someone they don’t know or can’t relate to.”

Our 5 favourite celebrity fashion & beauty collaborations of 2016:

Hailey Baldwin X Public Desire

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PDXHB MIAMI LACE UP MESH ANKLE BOOTS IN GREY £39.99

Gwen Stefani X Urban Decay 

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GWEN STEFANI EYESHADOW PALETTE £40

Fenty Puma X Rihanna 

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CROPPED CREW NECK T-SHIRT £50

Ivy Park X Topshop

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LOGO PEACHED SWEAT BY IVY PARK £28

Pretty Little Thing X Sofia Richie

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AVANYA BLACK PREMIUM METALLIC LACE TIE DETAIL MIDI DRESS £38

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