In November 2018, Kylie Jenner was declared the youngest self-made billionaire ever thanks to her Kylie Cosmetics empire, which Forbes estimated to be valued at $900 million dollars (Dhs 3,305,925,000).
Eight months later, and an exclusive report obtained by The New York Post revealed that her sales had dropped by 14 per cent since the previous May. The data, procured by e-commerce company Rakuten, also revealed that revenue in the company had decreased by 62 per cent in just two years following its peak in November 2016.
It's not just Jenner experiencing a drop in sales. According to a report by Fitch, Anastasia Beverly Hills' sales were also down by nearly 30 per cent in the first quarter of this year.
In fact, according to data we obtained from consumer market research firm, NPD Group, the UK prestige make-up market has declined 7 per cent from January to June 2019 compared to the same period last year. This coincides with what's happening on the other side of the pond.
This week, L'Oréal's Chairman and Chief Executive Jean-Paul Agon announced the company had missed estimates for its second-quarter sales growth, explaining; "the makeup market has really slowed down in the US".
So why are these billion dollar companies faltering now?
“The Kylie Jenner brand is very valuable, but consumer loyalty is a huge piece of a brand’s value,” Jaimee Minney, senior vice president of Rakuten Intelligence, told The New York Post. “Her brand power brings people in, but the big question is whether it keeps people loyal.” Meanwhile Bloomberg cited a "crowded" make-up category, and referenced supply chain problems caused by a warehouse move as reason for ABH's dip.
Crowded is one way to put it. So far this year, Lady Gaga and Millie Bobby Brown have both launched makeup brands, while Selena Gomez, Hailey Bieber, Cardi B, Serena Williams, Ciara and Gwen Stefani have all filed trademarks for upcoming lines.
While this new influx of brands is certainly crowding the market, perhaps Kylie Cosmetics and ABH are particularly struggling due to the sheer volume of products they're launching themselves:
Kylie Cosmetics launches January 2019 - August 2019
- 1. January - Bronzers, blushers and highlighters
- 2. February - 'Valentine's' collection
- 3. March - Setting powders
- 4. April - Makeup setting spray and eyebrow collection
- 5. May - 'Kylie Skin' launch
- 6. June - 'Koko Kollection' with sister Khloe
- 7. July - 'Under the Sea' summer collection and an extension of her skin range to include body products
- 8. August - 'Birthday' collection, plus a fragrance collaboration with older sister Kim.
Over a six month period, Kylie Cosmetics released four eyeshadow palettes which would have set you back roughly £146/Dhs653 (not including shipping and customs charges to the UK).
ABH somehow managed to top this, with six brand new eyeshadow palettes released between January and August.
Anastasia Beverly Hills launches January 2019 - August 2019
- 1. February - 'Daytime and Sunset' collection and 'Love' collection
- 2. March - Dipbrow gel launch, 'Riviera' eyeshadow palette, loose highlighters and makeup setting spray
- 3. May - Summer collection, eyeshadow primer and Alyssa Edwards eyeshadow palette
- 4. June - Liquid eyeliner
- 5. August - Foundation, setting powders, Jackie Aina eyeshadow palette and Norvina eyeshadow palette
If you just purchased ABH's six new palettes alone, it would have set you back £240/Dhs1,073.
Seeing as the average UK salary is £29,009/Dhs129,600, is it any wonder even the most makeup obsessed are simply unable to stay loyal? How can they be expected to repurchase from their favourite brands when there is so much to buy every single month?
As a make-up addict myself, I know from experience how hard it is to keep up with these launches. However, as a beauty journalist, I am in a fortunate position where I receive products for free to review. I wanted to know if other make-up fans were struggling with the amount of newness, so I took to Instagram to ask the question.
"We're overloaded" one person told me. "The average addict can't afford their regular stash, let alone the new". While another complained: "I'm tired of all the unbelievable waste for a slightly different texture, or colour".
View this post on Instagram
NORVINA Vol. 1 . . .. PALETTE DETAILS.. - 60 - Vegan - Launching on ABH.com 8/26 and ONLINE-ONLY with all domestic retailers on 8/27, and online with international 8/28 . . - @norvina - Mua @alyssamarieartistry - Photo @jairobrito805 - Art @awesomeshorts - Body Paint @brittbrutal
In fact, reading through my comments, the overwhelming response was that people are fed up of these releases, "The never ending launch announcements have taken the excitement out of new make-up".
As one person pointed out, these limited edition launches come and go so quickly, there isn't actually enough time for people to save up to afford to buy them. "I loved the Charlotte Tilbury Superstar eyeshadow palette but I didn't have time to save up for it before it went".
Another make-up enthusiast pointed out that an increasing number of these limited edition releases can often be found in TK Maxx once the hype has died down. A quick scroll through their website spotting long forgotten releases from brands like MAC, Too Faced, Urban Decay and Becca, confirms this.
If you need any further proof of consumer fatigue, just read the comments on Instagram makeup news account Trendmood.
When Trendmood shared the news that Anastasia Beverly Hills was releasing a Norvina palette, two weeks after its collaboration with YouTuber Jackie Aina, fans were quick to share their views.
With 705 and 388 likes respectively, two of the top comments were: "What’s the point of Jackie Aina’s palette now since this palette has that palette’s colours?" And, "The palette is gorgeous but these brands really need to chill out with the releases. Jackie Aina's has barely come out and now there's a new one? The whole cosmetic industry needs to slow down, consumers can't keep up and are losing interest."
It seems this combination of consumer fatigue, combined with an increased awareness around sustainability is having a knock on sales effect. In fact, L'Oréal's Agon put it best himself when he said, “Maybe the cupboards are a bit full with makeup and after a while people will go again and buy some makeup products.”
While I doubt brands will switch back to seasonal launches, the focus needs to change from quantity, to quality. Companies need to lure customers back with new formulations and innovative products, rather than slightly different coloured eyeshadow palettes.