Sold Out in Seconds: How Celebrities Influence The Market
2 min read
It has happened to everyone. You see the newest paparazzi photo or video of your favorite celebrity and are captivated by what they are wearing or a product they are using. You never knew that you needed this product until now and scour the Internet searching for it only to see that it is sold out, with little chance of a restock. How can this be, perhaps you wonder, I only saw that product yesterday. One of the biggest, if not the biggest, influences on our market today are celebrities. From the US to the UK to Korea, celebrities nearly control everything we buy, from what we wear, what we eat, and what we read. Keep reading below to learn about four of the most famous celebrities who have the greatest influence on our buying behaviors:
British Royal Family
To properly examine celebrity influence on the market, we must first start across the pond in the United Kingdom with the British Royal Family. Not only do they influence the British public’s buying behaviors, but they also influence the American public’s buying behaviors. Vanity Fair estimates that American consumers’ interests in a clothing item are peaked 38% when Kate Middleton wears it.
The Duchess of Cambridge has been an international fashion icon since the media’s first introduction to her in 2006. Kate Middleton is known for wearing affordable clothes from Zara, and causing them to sell out quickly. In 2018, while watching Prince William participate in a charity polo game, she was photographed in a Zara sundress. The dress, which cost under $50, sold out within minutes. While pregnant with her second child, Kate wore a polka-dot dress from ASOS. Within 30 minutes of the photographs being leaked, the maternity dress sold out. Kate is also famous for wearing Superga Cotu sneakers. Many news outlets, including Today and Entertainment Tonight, exclusively refer to these shoes as “Kate Middleton’s favorites” when writing about them.
Since 2018, Meghan Markle’s high fashion has been in the public eye. In April 2018, just a month before her wedding to Prince Harry, Meghan wore a springy striped dress with a blazer. This outfit was one of the highest praised royal outfits of 2018, with the dress selling out indefinitely. In March 2021, Meghan Markle announced her second pregnancy wearing a floral maxi dress by La Ligne. This dress sold out quickly and has not been restocked in that color.
Not only are the adult Dukes and Duchesses under scrutiny, but the royal babies and children are also in the public eye. These little tykes were influencing buyer behavior before they were even born. Prince George, the first child of Duchess Kate Middleton and Prince William, is a prime example of how such a little boy can have such a big impact on consumers. Prince George’s personalized sweater in The Royal Family’s 2014 portrait caused it to sell out after 1200 orders were placed in only a couple of days. We have all seen the infamous picture of former President Barack Obama greeting Prince George who is in his pajamas and personalized robe. After the photos were leaked, the robe sold out in minutes, estimating that web traffic was up by 500% and one robe was selling every second. However, Prince George is not the only influential royal toddler. His sister, Princess Charlotte, sent the Internet into a frenzy after she was photographed wearing a light blue dress to meet her new little brother. Within hours, every size from 6 months to 6 years was sold out.
Now that we’ve talked about the British Royal Family, we must talk about the American Royal Family: The Kardashian-Jenners. Over the past fourteen years, the Kardashians have created an influential legacy that is second to none. Love them or hate them, their influence on consumers is undeniable as it is impossible to scroll through social media without seeing at least one Kardashian post or sponsored ad.
Whether she is on the red carpet or airport, Kim Kardashian’s fashion catches the media’s eye. Kim K’s red carpet fashion is so highly sought after that fast fashion sites such as Fashion Nova and Pretty Little Thing created inexpensive versions. However this became problematic in 2018 when Kim Kardashian called out Fashion Nova on Twitter for replicating a design made exclusively for her. Kim Kardashian has lent a great hand in the popularization of her ex-husband Kanye West’s brand, Yeezy. A couple of years ago, she was spotted wearing Yeezy clear PVC high heels and boots. This ultimately led to the popularity of clear shoes which are now available at almost every major clothing chain. Just recently, Kim, her sisters, and her children were wearing the new Adidas Yeezy 450 Cloud White sneaker. On their release date, they sold out in one minute.
Although her title of most liked Instagram photo was taken by a photo of an egg, Kylie Jenner still has an incredible influence on the market. In summer of 2020, Kylie posted a photo of herself wearing an inexpensive dress on Instagram that sent the Internet into a frenzy. Though she did not tag the designer, her followers found the designer, LoudBrand, and caused the dress to sell out in a day. Her promotion of her lip kits, makeup palettes, and skincare line caused them to sell out within a matter of minutes, some without hope of a restock.
While the Kardashians’ influence is generally positive, they have promoted problematic items in the past. In 2019, Kim Kardashian was embroiled in controversy after promoting diet lollipops on Instagram. Actress Jameela Jamil called her out for endorsing a product that promotes unsafe diet practices and having an unhealthy body image to young girls. Her sisters have also been the object of ridicule after promoting dangerous detox teas and misleading hair vitamins.
Through her talk show, cable television network, and books, Oprah has influenced her fans and viewers for years. She is regarded as the original Instagram influencer because of the extent of her authentic impact on consumers.
Move over Louis Vuitton and Gucci, a new designer purse is in town. Telfar is a black-owned, inexpensive yet chic brand that makes clothing and handbags. Oprah listed their versatile, unisex carry-all shopping bag in her 2020 favorites. The bag sold out in every color and size, and is still sold out as of mid-April. When the bags are restocked, they sell out in seconds.
Oprah Book Club
Oprah’s Book Club is a platform in which Oprah offers recommendations for the best books. Oprah usually adds three books to her list with the most recent being Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. Other books included in her book club include Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Poton, Becoming by Michelle Obama, and Sula by Toni Morrison. Oftentimes, the books included in Oprah’s Book Club will feature a special sticker on the cover to entice readers. While book shopping, I purchased Mother of Pearl by Melinda Haynes largely because it had an Oprah’s Book Club sticker.
To talk about the celebrities’ influence on our buying behaviors in 2021, we must talk about TikTok. With, as Media Kix estimates, over 315 million users, it gives everyone a chance to share the newest gadget, gizmo, and life hack. It is nearly impossible to scroll through TikTok for 5 minutes without seeing a product that peaks your interest.
Though only a teenager, TikTok creator Charli D’Amelio has one of the greatest influences over children, teens, and adults alike. Most recently, her fame has allowed her to enter into a partnership with Dunkin Donuts and create a unique drink. The coffee shops have since been flooding with orders for “The Charli”, with some employees making TikToks about their frustrations with making the same monotonous order. At the end of March, Dunkin Donuts released a merchandise line in partnership with Charli D’Amelio.
LED Light Strips
The item TikTok has influenced us to buy the most would definitely have to be LED light strips. Sophisticated statistics and sales data aren’t needed to explain this. Taking a simple walk on a college campus is enough as nearly every room in the dormitories is lit up a different color. They have become so synonymous with TikTok that, in many situations, they are referred to as “TikTok Lights.”
So what is it about celebrities that make us feel so compelled to buy what they are using or wearing? The answer lies in their credibility and reputation. Because these people are in the public eye, we feel as though we know them like a friend and come to trust them like a friend. Thus, when they recommend something, we trust their recommendation like we would that of a friend.
I hope this has taught you more about consumer behaviors and how they are influenced by celebrities and social media. Make sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for another blog next week.
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