Why Do Some Celebrity Entrepreneurs Succeed and Others Fail?

Hawke Media is located in Los Angeles; therefore, I think it is appropriate to ask why some celebrities succeed as entrepreneurs and others fail. Celebrities starting side businesses is nothing new. Since the dawn of the movie age celebrities have been moonlighting as entrepreneurs. But only recently has this issue been thrusted into the spotlight with success stories such as Jessica Alba’s, The Honest Company and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s, The Row.  On the other side of the coin you have spectacular celebrity business failures such as Britney Spears restaurant Nyla or Curt Schilling’s 38 Studios.  Personally, I believe celebrity entrepreneurial success is the result of three important traits.  These traits are important in celebrity owned businesses as well as those owned by the general public.

  1. Authenticity

Authenticity within your business is vital! It does not matter if you are a celebrity who has been in twenty movies or a middle age male in Des Moines, Iowa.  In the majority of startups, the owner is the face of the franchise. Due to this it is vital that consumers identify with the owner. People connect with people and if the owner is the face of the business, people need to connect with the owner.  This is exemplified in Jessica Alba’s Honest Company which oozes authenticity.  Consumers identify with Jessica Alba’s story of struggling to buy safe and healthy products for her children.

  1.  Industry Experience

In the vast majority of cases consumers do not want to buy from those they deem untrustworthy.  Successful celebrity backed businesses are almost always started by celebrity entrepreneurs who have demonstrated expertise in that particular category. A perfect example is Tony Hawk’s Birdhouse skate line. According to a recent article, “Hawk knew exactly what his customers would like and used his wisdom to create his own line of skateboard decks, clothing, and other accessories to offer a better, more authentic customer experience than his competitors.” He was able to stand by his products and consumers trusted him based on his dominance within the skateboard circuit. Professional experience is important whether or not you are a celebrity.

  1. Be Aspirational

A brand, at its heart, is simply a collection of products, services and concepts which are distinguishable versus another. But in the abstract a brand is an aspirational movement that allows a consumers to move from A to B. Put simply: it allows the consumer to actualize a better version of himself or herself.  Remember Michael Jordan back in the 1990’s in the Be Like Mike campaign? He prompted us to drink Gatorade and be “Like Mike.”  Today a perfect example is Gwyneth Paltrow’s, GOOP, which at its core is exclusively an aspirational play. This core segment of customers who drink Gatorade to be like Mike and shop at GOOP to be like Gwyneth are called aspirational consumers.  Today they account for over 39% of the global population.  According to a fantastic article from Fast Company, there are five main reasons why these consumers buy:

  • Consumers want something to believe in
  • Consumers want to belong
  • Consumers want their voice heard
  • Consumers want social status
  • Consumers want a platform for action.

The bottom line is that when they look at a brand they see much more than a pile of stuff or services. Thus my advice for your next brand, whether you are a budding celebrity or an average Joe, is to harness the power of aspiration. Make the brand stand for something more than just a purchase. With this you are bound to succeed. If you need help with any of the concepts articulated above feel free to reach out to us.

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