Its founders, Raja Elly Yusnita and Nur Hafiza Burhanuddin, were prominent Malaysian skin care and beauty bloggers who had built up a sizeable audience. Their thousands of followers respected their opinions, so they reasoned why not turn all this trust into a brand that ticked all the right boxes.
At the time, there were only a handful of Malaysian beauty companies, guaranteeing Fame an explosion when it launched its skin care range. Its entire stock was sold out in three days and the brand quickly became a full-time business for the founders.
Soon, though, they were forced to revisit their business model. Though Fame’s skin care products had been shown to be popular, the response to them had dwindled after a few months because skin care was seen as an occasional purchase. Instead, they turned to colour cosmetics, which they saw as more sustainable because consumers were willing to buy lipsticks and the like more often.
“It was a hit: we sold 17,000 units of lip creams in just a week, so then we expanded into a bigger range of products. Our aim is to be a one-stop centre for cosmetics,” said Zue Shariff, who now looks after Fame’s marketing and business development.
“We have expanded offline, and opened our own counters in malls. We have also been collaborating with third parties and distributors so our cosmetics are known in all Malaysian states now.”
Entering new markets
On the horizon is expansion into new markets, where the JAKIM halal certification Fame’s products carry is in demand.
Countries like Japan, China and the United Kingdom, in particular, as well as the Middle East and neighbouring Singapore and Indonesia, hold the Malaysian certification authority’s stamp in high esteem, at a time when halal cosmetics is on course to become a US$50-bn-plus industry, according to some estimates.
“Our plan is to secure main distributors in high-potential countries. The halal label will really help in these places, and we already have a big following,” said Zue.
Though the brand has its roots in blogging, its founders no longer take to the pixels as they did when it launched. Instead, Fame relies on a legion of make-up artists and social media influencers to broadcast its brand message to new customers.
Targeting young adult women over the age of 24, it is in the process of revamping its brand and changing its packaging to appeal more to this growing demographic.
At the same time, the very few Malaysian brands on the market at its launch has now transformed into thousands of new ones, each leveraging online sales and marketing to carve out a niche for themselves. As “one of the early pioneers” in domestic cosmetics, as Zue puts it, Fame must now roll with a fizzing market in which competitors emerge daily.
“Our strength is in being a pioneer and having a lot of followers—these are around 95,000 on Instagram and over 100,000 Facebook. Our marketing effort now aims for us to sustain and maintain these, while also reach out to new target audiences.”