Celebrity-backed retail brands grow in popularity

The new wave of clicks-to-bricks retailers opened 300K SF of space in last decade

September 13, 2023
  • Ebere Anokute

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I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s observed the recent phenomenon of nearly every celebrity I follow on social media trying to sell me something. While celebrity-backed retail brands are not a wholly new concept, it’s clear that interest and activity in the category has grown considerably in recent years, as these brands have leased more than 300,000 s.f. of space in the past decade. And with some of these companies now reaching billion-dollar valuations and double-digit store counts, this sector is likely to see sustained growth in the near term.

Celebrity brands founded by year

Source: JLL Research

The growth of these brands has been fueled by 1) the rapid evolution of social media and influencer marketing, and 2) the growth of digitally native retailers in the past decade. Rather than relying on other influencers to market their products to the masses, celebrities today choose instead to own the brands themselves, and act as their own influencers in the process. The combination of these two factors has created a perfect storm for the growth of this category; 60% of all celebrity retail brands were founded in the last six years, and more than a third (38%) have launched since 2020.

Celebrity retail store property type

Source: JLL Research

These brands truly represent the new wave of “clicks to bricks” retailers and are benefitting from best practices established by their digitally native predecessors. With growth in the online advertising market causing customer acquisition costs to triple over the past five years, digitally native retailers now understand that a brick-and-mortar presence can help grow visibility both online and offline. Many of these brands have gravitated towards malls, and have seen that investment pay off through high foot traffic and exposure. Celebrity brands are no different; interestingly, more than three-fourths (76%) of all celebrity retail stores have opened in malls, indicating that the growth of this category could act as a potential boon for mall performance.

Source: JLL Research

While not every celebrity retail brand makes it to the physical store stage, the brands that do all follow a similar path, resulting in a distinct celebrity retail lifecycle. The first stage involves using social media to introduce the brand and creating an e-commerce offering to sell items directly to their fans. Once they’ve grown as much as possible online, these brands will work with existing physical retailers to sell their products in stores - a phenomenon most often observed in the beauty world through partnerships with Ulta and Sephora. Upon solidifying the demand for product in physical stores, these brands often test the appetite for standalone stores by opening pop-up locations in target markets. Finally, they begin to roll out their own physical stores, establishing their presence in the retail sphere.

For a comprehensive retail overview, you can download our celebrity retail report.

Contact Ebere Anokute

Manager, National Retail Research