Makeup

Becca Cosmetics Closing Down: An Inevitability or COVID woes

Illustration By Odia Melissa Nyembo

Becca Cosmetics is sadly closing its doors after 20 years in business. They announced the news via Instagram to their 3.8 million followers on February 24th, 2021. Many popular beauty influencers and industry professionals were shocked, but I, however, was not. 

Becca outlined the global impact of COVID-19 as the reason for closing their doors, stating that the virus “has sadly been more than our business can withstand.” Unfortunately, the pandemic permanently shut down several businesses across different industries like retail, hospitality, and tourism. However, in the case of Becca Cosmetics, could there be more there?

Don’t get me wrong, people losing their jobs and closing down a business in this climate is sad. My heart truly goes out to everyone working in and around Becca Cosmetics, from their founder Rebecca Morrice Williams to the people packing orders in their warehouse. However, if you’re like me and like to investigate and look at the beauty industry through the lens of social media, then you saw the decline of Becca as an eventuality.

Before I go on, I just want to preface by saying that I am taking a look at Becca from a social lens. This is Becca Cosmetics’s downfall from the view of a beauty enthusiast, connoisseur, and content creator. A girl how spends way too much time on the internet watching and making beauty content and has an extensive makeup collection herself. This is strictly my opinion. 

Becca Cosmetics is an Australian company founded in 2001 and was later acquired by Estee Lauder in 2016. Becca made headlines in the online beauty scene, most notably in 2015. Becca announced their collaboration with one of YouTube’s O.G. beauty influencers Jaclyn Hill. Hill and Becca would go on to create what is now one of their bestselling highlighters Champagne Pop. According to Racked, the highlighter sold 25,000 units at Sephora in 20 minutes. 

The Jaclyn Hill x Becca Cosmetics launch was one of the first collaborations between a well-established brand and an influencer. The partnership couldn’t have come at a better time; the rise of the online beauty community made the product sore in popularity. Becca, however, didn’t seem to realise that they’ve struck gold.

Another Jaclyn Hill and Becca Cosmetics was supposed to release during the holiday season of that year with a new highlighter called Prosecco Pop and other goodies. However, due to some drama causing a falling out between Becca and Hill, most of the collab was never released. One of the products set to launch was an eyeshadow palette. It was sent to influencers before the launch for early reviews. To say that the reviews were negative was the understatement of the century; you just had to be there. 

I think Becca, for the first time, saw the pros and cons of influencer marketing. They saw the wonders it could do, but they also saw how a couple of bad reviews could affect their consumers. Maybe this is why, contrary to their counterparts, like Anastasia Beverly Hills and Too Faced, they started to stray away from influencers and partner with celebrities.  

Celebrities and influencers are not the same. It seems like everyday people (especially in the beauty space) respond better to influencers than celebrities. Their edge? Relatability and attainability. Influencers create a parasocial relationship through their fan by being vulnerable, acknowledging their supporter, and reminding them that “hey, I’m like you.” Their unique relationship ultimately translates to support in collaboration and other endeavors.  

Becca Cosmetics X Chrissy Teigen

Becca collaborated with model and television personality Chrissy Teigen for the first time in May of 2017. Despite the collection being a success, it did not socially receive the same type of hype as the Jaclyn Hill collab. Another notable partnership was the Khloe Kardashian, and Malika B.F.F. collection released the following year but still nowhere near as socially relevant as Champagne Pop. Becca released other gems like their Under Eye Brightening Corrector and their Frist Light Priming Filter, but none of them were enough to keep Becca at the front of many makeup drawers. 

As the years progressed, so did the competition. The boom of the beauty community and, therefore makeup brands, caused Becca to lose their footing as one of the industry’s giants. By the time 2019 rolled around, Becca started to get desperate. They tried repackaging existing favourites, and in early 2020 is Becca in my opinion hit rock bottom. In July of 2020, Becca released their Zero No Pigment foundation. The product was not a delayed April fool’s joke but marketed as an actual transparent foundation. It was allegedly supposed to blur skin, reduce shine and have skincare benifits. To give you a sense on how consumers reacted to the product, it currently sits at a 3.3 rating on Sephora, with one review describing it as a gimmick.  

Granted, the internet-savvy, heavy makeup-wearing Gen Z and Millennials might not be Becca’s target audience. In a Racked interview Becca’s C.E.O. Robert DeBaker (from April 2011 to October 2018) said that Becca’s 48% of Becca’s consumers were 35 and over. 

“We have a really great segmentation that allows us to play in multiple age categories. Look, our foundations start at $44. This is a commitment. As we would view the world of price points, that’s not necessarily your first-time foundation. An 18- to 25-year-old might not be buying us for foundation, but a 35-plus consumer is,” said DeBaker. He does note that Becca’s true worth lies in the people who buy the products. 

So that brings us to today, did COVID-19 really contribute to the death of Becca Cosmetics? Absolutely. To me, Becca closing was inevitable, but COVID-19 accelerate the process. It’s not difficult to see that since the start of the pandemic, skincare has become the new makeup. Popular beauty brands like Fenty Beauty, E.L.F., and Colourpop, for example, have started to venture into the world of skincare. According to a CNN article, in 2018 alone, skincare sales grew 13%, hitting $5.6 billion, while makeup grew only by 1%.

While it’s sad to see Becca to go, I think they served as a wake-up call for brands still stuck in their ways and not evolving. They serve as reminder that one day you can be in, and the next, you’re out. The brand will officially close it’s doors in September 2021, so be on the lookout for deals and steals at your local Sephora and everywhere Becca is sold. Shop some of my favourites below:

Becca Cosmetics, Champagne Pop, $50, sephora.com

Champagne pop

Becca Cosmetics, Under-eye Brightening Concealer, $42, sephora.com

Under-eye brightening concealer 

Becca Cosmetics, Even Matte Poreless Priming Perfector, $51, sephora.com

Ever matte poreless priming perfector

Ps. Someone check on Smashbox to see if they’re doing ok on life-support. As much as it pains me to say it, we might need to cut the cord on them too.

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