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Beauty retail and the Kate Middleton effect

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All areas of the retail industry have tried to take advantage of tomorrow’s royal wedding in recent weeks. Aaron Chatterley, CEO of health & beauty retailer Feelunique.com, investigates how the beauty sector may benefit from shoppers wanting that all important Kate Middleton look.

I suppose it is possible that there are a few tribesman, in the midst of the Amazon jungle, whom are unaware that there is a certain wedding coming up tomorrow.

But the rest of us have had an unrelenting diet of royal wedding coverage whenever we open a newspaper, click on a website or turn on the TV or radio.

It seems like every retailer on the planet has been jumping on the royal wedding bandwagon and PR companies have been working overtime to associate their clients’ products with the forthcoming celebrations.

I have read about everyone from tax advisors to sex toy manufacturers all shrieking to somehow grab a bit of the wedding limelight.

It is all so very predictable.

But who can blame them? The irrefutable truth is that Kate Middleton, sorry, Princess Catherine, does shift products. One royal nod or even whisper of approval can trigger an unprecedented sales spike.

For professional reasons, I am obliged to flick through the women’s glossies and the beauty pages of all the newspapers to see what brands are doing well.

Getting “the Kate Middleton look” is apparently a vital topic for ladies of all ages at the moment. ‘Get Kate’s flowing shiny hair’, ‘Achieve Kate’s English rose complexion’, ‘Carry off Kate’s style’ and so on and so forth.

There’s even a blog called Thedailykate which proclaims itself “a blog dedicated to the life and style of royal fiancée Kate Middleton”. It details how to recreate every look sported by ‘K-Middy’.

The factory that makes Karin Herzog products must be struggling to keep up with demand after it was “confirmed” that they were used by Kate. Similarly, Oxygen face creams must be flying off the shelves, after this was revealed to be the secret to Kate’s rosy glow. Richard Ward must be booked solid creating the ‘Middleton mane’ after being confirmed as Kate’s go-to hair guy.

We have even seen the knock-on effects at Feelunique, with sales of Kerastase shine products, rumoured to be used by Kate, up 80 per cent.

There is no question that getting a famous pretty face associated with a beauty product is the holy PR grail for cosmetics brands. And even better if you don’t have to pay for the privilege. Paid endorsement is effective. Unpaid brand association is priceless.

This doesn’t just apply for aesthetically pleasing princesses, but for celebrities in general. That is why Charlize Theron gets paid an eye-watering sum by Dior to strut around with only clever lighting to spare her blushes.

Celebrities are more aware than ever of the power they wield and are demanding increasingly large fees to endorse beauty brands. Recent collaborations such as Pierce Brosnan for L’Oreal Men Expert, Catherine Zeta Jones for Elizabeth Arden and Kirsten Dunst for Bvlgari Mon Jasmine Noir will have demanded a huge investment from the brands.

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These associations undoubtedly gain media column inches, add credibility to the product and create the illusion that the particular celebrity’s hair/skin/eye lashes are attainable by the ordinary man or woman.

However, consumers are becoming more and more cynical towards paid endorsements.

So you cannot blame brands for clamouring to make a connection, however small or tenuous, with Kate Middleton: She has no requirement for paid endorsements, comes across as genuine and acts as a beautiful high profile ambassador, just by going about her daily life and looking lovely.

One thing is for sure, even once Friday is over, we won’t have seen the last of Kate Middleton fever… and the post room at Clarence House will continue to groan under the weight of brand gifts for the royal princess.

Note: The views expressed here are those of Aaron Chatterley and do not necessarily represent the views of Retail Gazette.

Published on Thursday 28 April by Editorial Assistant

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