Celebrity partnerships can be a powerful tool for any retailer. The built-in audience and media-grabbing appeal of the world’s most famous people make them perfect allies for brands, and they can complement more targeted influencer partnerships by providing a different kind of reach. Inclusive swimwear brand Andie has been utilizing its celebrity partners, including Claire Holt and Demi Moore, to help maintain 100% growth over the past year, with record-breaking sales every month.
At its core, celebrity marketing shares the same key ingredient as influencer marketing: authenticity. Andie has different team members who handle different types of partners, from microinfluencers with thousands of followers to established global personalities like Moore, but authenticity remains vital to the swimwear lines created in partnership with even this biggest celebrities.
“I think one of the key learnings is really making sure that you keep the authenticity of the collaborator and that they are really involved in the process,” said Melanie Travis, CEO and Founder of Andie in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Consumers are savvy. They understand what’s going on. You can’t pull the wool over their eyes.”
This principle has paid off for Andie —Claire Holt’s limited-edition swimwear collection collected a wait list of thousands of email launches pre-launch, then sold out within 72 hours. Other keys to the retailer’s celebrity success include:
- Match the celebrity with the demographic: Each celebrity and influencer has their specific audiences, and while it can be tempting to look for partnerships that could break your brand into new demographics, reinforcing your existing message is almost always the stronger play;
- Build a long-term relationship: Bringing a global celebrity on board won’t produce good results if your brand doesn’t mean anything to them — for instance, Andie’s partnership with Demi Moore is the result of a years-long relationship, making the resulting collaboration much more authentic for all parties; and
- Listen to your customers: You can’t wow shoppers with even the best-thought-out celebrity partnership if you’re not in touch with their needs in the first place. Brands can use everything from direct polls to the shopping experience itself to determine the audience’s needs.
Celebrity Partnerships Should ‘Lean Into What’s Working’
The first step in forming a successful celebrity collaboration is finding a celebrity with a compatible audience. In Andie’s case, Holt’s enormous Instagram following and status as a young mother (an important demographic for the swimwear brand) made her a natural fit — reinforcing the authenticity of the partnership and building off a shared set of interests. Holt also is popular in her native country of Australia, where Andie is building its international presence.
“Sometimes people think, ‘Oh, I will find an influencer or celebrity partner that has a different audience from my company so that we tap into a whole new demographic,’” said Travis. “I understand the logic, but it doesn’t really work. I think that my advice would be to find a partner that is aligned with your brand and with your demographic and lean into what’s working, because the payoff is always greater.”
Moore, who is appearing with her three daughters in Andie’s summer advertising campaign both on social media and a Beverly Hills billboard, both brings the prestige of an A-list celebrity and further builds the brand’s presence with mothers.
A Celebrity Partnership Should be More Than a Business Transaction
A celebrity partnership is always going to be part business, but that can’t be the whole of it. The key to Andie’s success so far has been to take it slow and get to know its partners, before beginning the hard work of designing a product line or creating a massive ad campaign. The authenticity principle is important right down to the nature of the relationship between the brand and the celebrity.
“[Holt and I] had great conversations —she came to New York, we got drinks and chatted and we built a good relationship between the two of us,” said Travis. “Then, once that relationship is there, you can partner and enter what is certainly a business transaction, but it’s infused with maybe not a loving relationship, but something that just isn’t in a transactional relationship. I approach all our partnerships that way.”
This approach holds true for celebrities of any size — Travis noted that “you can’t just call up Demi Moore or her agent and say, ‘I want to take pictures of you and your daughters.’” Moore was an early investor in Andie, and her relationship with Travis and the company developed organically over a period of years.
The collaboration launched when it did because it was the right time for everybody, making it more authentic and better positioned for success. The inclusion of Moore’s children was her own suggestion, further establishing that Andie is for all ages in an authentic way.
Listen to Your Audience to Create a Good Template for Collaborations
A celebrity-backed product won’t sell if your core offering isn’t strong to begin with, and Andie has maintained four years of strong growth by ensuring that its product offerings reflect exactly what its audience wants. Everything from social listening to direct polling to sales information informs and improves future launches.
“On the product side, we’re focused on listening to our customers and basically designing what we know our customers want based on feedback, versus just leaning into the fashion angle and just doing what we think will be trendy,” said Travis. “I think more companies can do that, and it’s one thing that’s contributed to our sales increasing the way that they have.”
The customer support process also plays a vital role. Shoppers looking for the perfect fit can work with Andie’s Fit Experts, both to help ensure shoppers get the right suit for their needs and to record their likes and dislikes for the design team to take into consideration. This has led to the development of a number of unique sizing options across the swimsuit lineup, letting shoppers look for selections based on bust support, bottom coverage and even torso length.
With this data as a baseline, Andie was able to work directly with Holt as they designed their swimwear collection together. The swimwear retailer knew what it needed to offer to create a product its audience would love, and Holt was able to add her personal touch.
“We collaboratively designed the whole collection,” said Travis. “We were mailing fabric swatches back and forth to her house to proof colors and fabrics. That design process was probably three or four months of just design before we turned into the actual development. It was a pretty long, very collaborative process, and we were super happy that it really resonated with our customers.”