Soon after Kylie Jenner launched her namesake cosmetics brand, she and the company started promoting customer product reviews. Some of them seemed fake, at least early on, but the company’s interest in sharing customer feedback has only increased. For Kylie Skin, which relies on the efficacy of its skincare products much more than a cosmetics brand, she doubled down on sharing customer reviews, sending dedicated emails featuring 5-star reviews and tweeting about them constantly. Haus Labs, Lady Gaga’s beauty brand followed suit, as have other celebrity-driven brands.

Why do celebrity brands care so much what people think of their products? 

The proliferation of millions of products and tens of thousands of brands on the internet has made customer reviews both a helpful and increasingly deceitful signal of trust. Some reviews are real, many are fake, and there is no way to verify the credence of this feedback from different brands, retailers and platforms. 

At a high level, most brands and retailers barely use the tactic across their marketing communications. The Megaphone Report, which benchmarks the marketing strategies of 58 brands and retailers, found that only 7% of all Facebook and Instagram ads included customer testimonials and only 3% of all emails did during 2019.  

The premise of a celebrity-helmed brand, no matter the product it sells, is that shoppers are both highly-aware of the figureheads and that they trust them, hence why shoppers support them in the first place. This level of trust could be thin, but it exists. 

This reality, on the surface, has made the focus on customer reviews perplexing—it questions the very nature of building brands around famous people. But beneath the surface, the amount of competition in the market, the various and sometimes seedy ways celebrities make money endorsing products that are light on science, and the numerous websites and blogs dedicated to reviewing every last thing on the planet all add up to shoppers needing trust signala more than ever. Simply being famous is not enough to make your brand trustworthy, and in some cases, it might make it harder to build the initial trust. 

While it’s likely that brands such as Kylie and Haus are using this tactic because it works, it actually makes their brands seem weaker and less sure of themselves—that they need to rely on other unverifiable people to tell the world their products are good. Interestingly, few are relying on press reviews to build this trust, which is partially because the practice is losing effectiveness—especially as these media companies rely more on affiliate revenue, which sometimes compromises their impartiality—and because products from celebrity brands often aren’t that great to begin with. 

People will always care what other people think. But celebrities—who are known for not caring what other people think—sure seem to care what other people think.