Almost since the beginning of the lockdown, pundits have been saying that demand for cosmetics would likely decline, as most of consumers’ time has been spent at home and, even as society re-opens to a degree, mask-wearing hides much of the face. This prediction has come true in many cases, as a large number of players have reported significant sales drops since the crisis began. But you would never know it from the number of licensing and collaboration deals being signed in the cosmetics and beauty category—already a crowded landscape—in the past three months.
Most of the recent agreements, as is the pattern in this sector, are for limited editions, creating an incentive for immediate purchase while, importantly, reducing risk. The following property groups have been particularly active, with all of the initiatives mentioned below having been announced during the pandemic:
- Influencers of all types. Teen dancer Maddie Ziegler, who has a popular YouTube channel, has a new Imagination Collection with Morphe consisting of three lip and cheek color sets, a highlighter stick, and a palette of eye shadow. The tween sisters and TikTok creators known as WeWearCute are working with Taste Beauty on a line of hair, nail, and beauty products. Beauty influencer Jkissa and E.L.F. launched a makeup collection featuring an affordable and glittery brush set, eye shadow palette, and eye topper. Teyana, an R&B singer, dancer, actress, and model, collaborated with M.A.C on a makeup collection. And Courtney Shields, a lifestyle influencer, paired with TULA Skincare on an eye balm, marking TULA’s first product collaboration with one of its roster of influencers.
- Classic characters. Nintendo’s Kirby and Lovisia partnered for a line of lipsticks and eyeshadows, in a range of pink shades, plus a mirror, for distribution through stores such as Village Vanguard, Lawson, and Its’Demo in Japan. The upcoming film Wonder Woman 1984 inspired an eight-piece collection of eyeshadow, eyeliner, and lipstick from Revlon. Wonder Woman’s licensor, Warner Bros., also did a deal with Mad Beauty—which has been adding other character properties to its portfolio lately—for collections tied to a range of IP including Friends, Looney Tunes, and DC Comics; the first collection, for Friends, includes eye shadow, lip glosses, face masks, brushes, and other items.
- Celebrities with big LGBTQ+ followings and a focus on inclusivity. Drag artists KimChi and Naomi Smalls, best known for starring on RuPaul’s Drag Race, paired for a limited collection of eye and cheek palettes and liquid eye shadows called 2 Queens in 1 Desert, marketed by KimChi’s KimChi Chic Beauty brand. And Patrick Starr, a professional makeup artist known for his own dramatic styles and his 12 million followers, teamed with Luxury Brand Partners for a cosmetics brand called One/Size, exclusive to Sephora, that is promoted as welcoming to all underrepresented consumers. Teyana, mentioned earlier, is also a well-known LGBTQ+ advocate.
- Corporate brands. Chipotle collaborated with E.L.F. on a 10-piece collection of eye shadows, exfoliator, lip color in four shades, blush, putty primer, and brushes inspired by its menu items and contained in a silver bag reminiscent of the restaurant’s burrito foil, with quantities limited to 100 kits. Coca-Cola worked with Morphe on a collection of eye palettes, lip glosses, highlighters, sponges, and brushes. And Chupa Chups is the inspiration for a collection of cosmetics, including lip tattoos and blusher puffs, from Polka for sale in Indonesia.
- Latina musicians. Late Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla is the focus of a second collection from M.A.C., encompassing an eye shadow palette, lipsticks, and powder. Meanwhile, Thalia is promoting a limited-edition eye and cheek palette in 11 shades with Motives Cosmetics by Loren Ridinger.
- Kardashians. Already well-known for their beauty collections, the Kardashian-Jenner sisters have been making news in this category during the pandemic. Kim Kardashian announced that Coty would purchase a 20% stake in her KKW cosmetics company for $200 million, with plans to expand into new categories such as hair care, skin care, personal care, and nail products. (Coty purchased a majority share of Kylie Jenner’s Kylie Cosmetics brand for $600 million last November.) Speaking of Kylie Cosmetics, it launched a collection of lip color, eye shadow in 15 shades, bronzer, blush, and blotting powder with another of the sisters, Kendall Jenner, last month.
Note that a number of the celebrities on this list are people of color, furthering a trend for diverse, often celebrity-backed, assortments in the cosmetics industry. This movement has only grown stronger in the wake of the protests supporting racial equality that have been top of mind since May.
The deals mentioned in this post have taken place almost since the start of the COVID-19 lockdown, but the pace has accelerated in June and July, as have licensing and collaborative deals in general. For other coverage of the latest pandemic-driven news, see our Coronavirus Resource Page, which has just been updated with a recap of how the licensing business and its approach to the current landscape have evolved over the past month.