There once was a time when celebrity endorsement was enough to sell a product, but those days may be gone in Europe as consumers say they would rather see a person who represents their own age in make-up ads.
However, in Asia, market researcher Canadean found that people still want to feel connected to celebrities, and personal care product sales on the region continue to be heavily influenced by those kind of endorsements.
"Manufacturers know that celebrities play an important role in people’s lives and offer consumers the chance to create a perceived link between them and the celebrity,” says one of the firm's analysts, Safwan Kotwal.
For example, industry beauty veteran Olay has seen the value of this 'association' by getting Kajol, a famous Indian actress on board as its ambassador for an anti-ageing cream.
“Choosing a household name to promote the product to middle-aged women alongside a slogan of ‘Join me in the battle against ageing’, gives consumers the connection and makes Kajol someone they can relate to,” adds Kotwal.
Social media is a 'key component' for providing connection
A key component in helping to build a connection between celebrities and their fans has been the rise of social media.
Websites such as Twitter and Facebook have provided unrivalled access to the lives of celebrities, making people feel more connected and closer to their idols.
“This greater connection leaves people aspiring to be like the celebrities, usually through similar consumption trends in terms of fashion and style, or by purchasing products endorsed by the celebrity,” concludes Kotwal.
Could a new law make celebrities cautious with brand endorsement though?
Although the rise of celebrity ambassadors is proving a key trend, China’s recently implemented ‘Revised Consumer Rights Protection Law’ means that celebrities are now liable for the claims they endorse and that customers can claim compensation from the producers and sellers.
The update introduced in 2014 is impacting brands and their celebrity partners in the country, with recent celebrity slip-ups highlighting the potential pitfalls of endorsement under the revised rules.
For example, Chinese actress Fan Bingbing, an ambassador for L’Oreal’s hair care range came under fire from social media users for posting a photo of herself with disheveled hair, looking perhaps to go on to endorse the brand’s products with a follow-up ‘after’ snap.
Unimpressed consumers were quick to point out if the actress had been using the brand’s products regularly as a brand ambassador might be expected to - a ‘bad hair day’ should not be a problem, unless the products were inadequate.
However, it still remains to be seen whether the new law will dissuade celebrities on a grand scale from endorsing beauty products.