It’s claimed that our passion for narcissistic pictures is fuelling the growth of everything from lipstick to old-fashioned photobooths.
Here’s a sector-by-sector breakdown
by: Simon Usborne
A disputed economic theory says that lipstick is a harbinger of economic gloom. When times are tight, we’re inclined to buy cheaper luxury goods, so makeup sales go up. But a current spike in sales is being blamed on something more depressing than global recession – namely Kylie Jenner, one of the Kardashian klan. Not just her, to be fair, but the generation of narcissistic celebrities who have turned the selfie into the craze that wouldn’t die – and an economic propellant. We are in the age of the selfie economy, and big business is all over it.
Sales of lippy are predicted to reach £306m this year, a 12% rise on last year. Consumer analysts Mintel put the increase down in part to the quantity that the full-lip look, popularised by Jenner, requires. Jenner, 18, has her own range of makeup and offers tutorials on her subscription website and app. Last year, she uploaded My Makeup Skillz, in which she revealed the secrets behind her “everyday glam” look. Twenty minutes later,after using products worth just short of $600 (£450), she was done. That’s good business.
A few years ago, the words “selfie stick” meant nothing. Today you can go online and download a Global Selfie Stick Consumption 2016 market research report, which includes a regional breakdown and a profile of the big players. It was too expensive for me to buy, but basically the selfie-stick industry is huge. They’re like microscooters without the wheels – a whole new product we once managed fine without but now can’t get enough of. Demand peaked in Christmas 2014 with a 300% sales rise on Amazon between September and November. In the same period, eBay sold one every 30 seconds. You can get two for a tenner on eBay, or a fancy PowerGrip H20 for £69.
Yes, it’s a thing. When tellies went high-def and we could explore every pore and crevice of Huw Edwards’ face before bedtime, the cosmetics industry responded with this new category to save the blushes of primetime stars. In simple terms, the new ranges reflect more light – in the trade, they call it blurring. Now HD products have hit the high street, fuelled, anecdotal evidence suggests, by the selfie phenomenon. Guess who uses HD foundation in her everyday glam routine. Yep, Kylie Jenner.
There have been suggestions, generally from the industry that stands to gain, that the unstoppable rise in popularity of cosmetic surgery can be blamed in part on the selfie craze. We can only hope that the rise of eyelid surgery to No 2 (behind breast enlargements) on the Britain’s cosmetic procedure rankings has nothing to do with the craze. Alas, it does for Triana Lavey. The LA-based TV producer has spent more than $12,000 on surgery, including to her eyes and chin, in order to look better in selfies. “I think that social media has really changed so much about how we look at ourselves and judge ourselves,” she told ABC News. “Ten years ago, I don’t think I even noticed that I had a weak chin.”
Before selfies, there were photographs of people. How did we manage? But for 100 years, there has been another way to do it yourself – the photo booth. Anatol Josepho, a Siberian in New York, patented the first automatic booth in 1925. His Photomaton, first plonked on Times Square, spat out a strip of eight images for 20 cents. They democratised photography and made Josepho rich. Billions of passport photos and friends foreva snaps later, the photo booth industry is muscling in on the selfie boom. Thumbtack, a major US website that connects consumers with professionals, reports a steady growth in demand for rental booths for weddings and parties. In 2014, orders for booths outstripped bookings for wedding photographers for the first time.