Are Celebrity-Endorsed Beauty Brands Worth the Extra Cash?

I put on my journalist pants and dug deep to answer every question you've ever had (or not had) about celebrity-branded "masstige" makeup
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Publish date:
February 11, 2016
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drugstore beauty, drugstore makeup, celebrity beauty, Masstige

We know celebrities are lending their names and faces to brands for prestige products at affordable prices, but are people really buying products just being stars are endorsing them? Some of you commented on my previous masstige article that you’re not suckers for a pretty face. Pass me the makeup remover wipes, because I need to come clean: I am a longtime reader, first-time commenter when it comes to the beauty industry. I do not have a degree in YouTube vlogging, nor do I own a spare bedroom filled with untried packages of Black Friday beauty hauls. I post smiling selfies on Instagram rocking my latest lippie, add a caption that says, “#LipColorsOnBrownSkin,” and call it a lipstick review. I am not Coco Chanel or Madame C.J. Walker over here! I am just a Drugstore Beauty Clearance Shelf standing in front of a Sephora asking you to love me. The facts and figures I am researching to legitimize this post are for all of our education.

Maybe it’s me, but the masstige section in Duane Reade (a NYC chain of drugstores owned by Walgreens) always seems to be deserted. I gotta know: do the people want masstige, or is it just corporate hype? I put on my journalist pants and dug deep to answer every question you've ever had (or not had) about celebrity-branded "masstige" makeup

WHAT IS MASSTIGE?

First of all, masstige is not a French boob massage; it’s a marketing term, “used to refer to mass-produced, relatively inexpensive goods that are marketed as luxurious or prestigious.” Whenever I hear the word “luxury” I think of the glamorous Ms. Zsa Zsa Gabor in Green Acres, and every time I hear “prestige” I think of the 2006 magic movie starring a very handsome Hugh Jackman, so yeah, I’m hooked on wanting the finer things.

Guess what: I hate the finer prices! They’re not fine at all.

Now you tell me I can have fancy stuff without paying so much? I am listening. But then you tell me it costs more than the widely available, “drugstore beauty” products I have come to rely on? I am folding my arms but still listening. I would assume masstige products skimp on quality or consumer experience in order to reach a wider audience, but according to webpackaging.com I would be wrong. Due to “modern techniques related to mass production, storage, and distribution logistics,” the prices are brought down to reasonable margins so that packaging matches perception of products as luxury items.

WHY IS MASSTIGE?

I’m cheap, or as my mom taught me to say, frugal, or as I prefer to point out, a financial wizard, but suffice it to say I do not like to pay full price for anything. It turns out even people who exclusively buy premium goods like getting a deal on them, so we all meet in the middle as an ideal demographic for these higher-than-mid-range products.

A study in 2013 shows the growth of the $4 billion U.S. shampoo market since 2010 could be mostly attributed to masstige and premium products, and that masstige shampoos ($4-$10) grew at the highest combined annual growth rate, more than value, mid-tier, and premium products. In other words, people are willing to shell out the extra dough because they think they’re getting something better, and they think they’re getting it at a discount.

WHEN IS MASSTIGE?

The whole concept was identified and the term coined by two guys named Michael J. Silverstein and Neil Fiske in 2003 in a marketing book called, “Trading Up: The New American Luxury.” They tracked sales of juice that soared when it was sold with a fancier label and fresh-squeezed--not just in cylinder ice blocks (ah, the days of adding water and stirring with a wooden spoon like the settlers).

Masstige, as it applies to beauty, began its boom with affordable shampoo that offered premium ingredients like keratin and moroccan oil.

Nuance by Salma Hayek debuted at CVS in August 2011, and a few short years later sales were “the highest of a proprietary brand in CVS’s history” according to The New York Times. That paved the way for Nonie Creme, former founding creative director of Butter London, to launch her line Colour Prevails in February 2015, Eva Mendes’ CIRCA Beauty in Spring 2015 and Drew Barrymore’s FLOWER Beauty in Summer 2015.

WHERE IS MASSTIGE?

For Nonie Creme’s Colour Prevails or Eva Mendes’ CIRCA Beauty head over to Walgreens. For Drew Barrymore’s FLOWER Beauty, you need to shop at Walmart. If you want Salma Hayek’s grandmother’s beauty secrets then CVS is the place to go. You will also find excellent masstige beauty options at Target, Drugstore.com, and Ulta.com.

WILL YOU STOP SAYING MASSTIGE?

I for one am glad that mid-priced, high quality products do not have to be reserved for the beauty blogging elite (who, by the way, get them for free anyway so they may review them for us). In a country where billionaire politicians vie for the presidency by appealing to the 99%, it is kind of nice to think that looking beautiful and wanting to save is something we all have in common. Where do you fall on the spending spectrum? Let me know in the comments.

Check out all my sources right here (and here and here):

The Masstige Miracle: Building a Bridge to Higher Profits, Kurt Salmon Review Not Your Grandmother’s Skin Care? The New York Times Why Masstige Beauty Matters, MIMI CHATTER Upscale, Masstige, and Mass Market Products, WebPacking.comThe Difference Between Prestige and Masstige- When to Pinch or Pony Up? LifeTips.com