Guess who is hitting the jackpot on India’s start-up street? Their films might be hit or miss, but Bollywood celebrities are finding huge success with the brands they are co-creating.

Take Katrina Kaif, who teamed up with beauty and lifestyle retailer, Nykaa, to launch Kay Beauty in 2019. Nearly 1.5 million consumers have bought the products of this brand so far. Earlier this month, Falguni Nayar, Executive Chairperson, Founder and CEO of Nykaa, pointed out that Kay Beauty was the “third-most searched” direct-to-consumer brand on the platform and also among “the top three brands at Nykaa’s stores”. She said, “Kay Beauty is expected to grow at the rate of 62 per cent after a robust year of expansion into new doors (retail stores).”

Nayar said that the brand was created by Katrina Kaif and Nykaa, to “bridge the gap between high glamour and care.” With a 1.4 million-strong Instagram community, the brand’s lip oils were sold out in one day demonstrating its prowess in bringing international trends to the forefront, she added.

Winning partnerships

Equally sweet has been the brand outing of Kareena Kapoor Khan. Last year, she formed a strategic partnership with SUGAR Cosmetics founders Vineeta Singh & Kaushik Mukherjee to launch a premium Korean skincare brand, Quench Botanics.

Kaushik Mukherjee, Director, Quench Botanics told brandline, “When the superstar and beauty icon Kareena Kapoor Khan loved the Quench products, she came on board as a co-owner and investor, affirming faith in the brand. Sales have more than doubled for quarter-on-quarter. A substantial increase in the follower base was also observed on our Instagram platform. Associating with her has helped step up the brand’s awareness and reach significantly amongst consumers.”

Mukherjee pointed out that Quench Botanics’ proposition of accessible Korean skincare tailored for Indian skin and weather conditions resonated well with consumers.

According to Sukhleen Aneja, CEO, Good Brands Co, Good Glamm Group, celeb-led brands are thriving in today’s beauty market as they gain instant recognition and recall. “We partnered with Manish Malhotra in 2018 to create and launch Manish Malhotra Beauty by MyGlamm, which has become one of the largest luxury makeup brands of India. These kinds of partnerships enable us to tap into diverse consumer segments and engage with them in innovative ways gaining access to their loyal fan bases,” she says.

Besides co-creating a brand, the beauty major has also come up with celeb-anchored limited-edition collections and exclusive launches. “Our most recent launch of the MyGlamm POUT collection in partnership with Karan Johar in December 2023 was a huge success and has gone on to be the No 1 best-selling lipstick for MyGlamm on platforms like Amazon,” she added.

For film stars, feted for their looks, it’s natural to segue into the booming beauty industry and the associations with new age start-ups is paying off.

Nayar said as India’s per capita income rises from $2,500 today to $5,500 by 2030, it is projected that the BPC (beauty and personal care ) per capita spend will go from $15 today to $50 by 2030 in India.

Business acumen

None of these are vanity projects; they are raking in the moolah, backed by large communities of loyal fans. In fact some of these ventures are backed by VCs and angel investors. Take for instance, Deepika Padukone’s “self-care” brand 82°E, which raised $7.5 million in seed funding in early 2022. DSG Consumer Partners and IDEO Ventures along with other angel investors participated in the round. And just last month, the brand — which has a presence in the body care and women skincare segment — expanded into the men’s skincare category.

But celebs aren’t restricting themselves to the beauty segment alone. They are monetising their popularity with business ventures in a wide array of segments. Shipa Shetty Kundra, who has several business interests, has invested in many ventures. Her early bet as an investor on Mamaearth-owner Honasa Consumer yielded her massive returns when it got listed at the bourses.

Her latest foray is in the kids-wear space with a brand called Zip Zap Zoop, launched in partnership with Ashmika Sadh. “Shilpa Shetty is a household name. Her expertise as a mother and a fashion icon combined with my manufacturing background led to this collaboration,” said Sadh. She added that the online brand now wants to focus on offline expansion besides setting up stores in tier-2 and tier-3 cities.

Last year, actor Sanjay Dutt forayed into the alcohol business with the launch of his scotch whiskey brand, The Glenwalk. This was launched on the back of his investment in Mumbai-based alcobev start-up Cartel & Bros. Jittin S Merani, Co-Founder, Cartel Bros, said, “In the competitive landscape of the Indian alcohol beverage industry, The Glenwalk has swiftly risen to prominence, thanks to a strategic partnership with Bollywood superstar Sanjay Dutt.”

Globally celebs have had a great track record of creating winning brands thanks to their OG influencer status. Notable examples are Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty, Kylie Jenner’s Kylie Cosmetics and Ariana Grande’s REM Beauty. In fact, some of the celeb-owned or co-owned brands have been sold at hefty valuations. Actor Ryan Reynolds successfully sold a stake in Aviation American Gin and few other brands to Diageo at over $600 million valuation. It wouldn’t be a surprise if we see a celeb-owned brand emerging as a unicorn soon in India.

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