Since 2014, ColourPop Cosmetics has been innovating the affordable beauty space with its extensive licensed collaborations.

McKenna Morgan, Content Editor

March 8, 2024

6 Min Read
Sailor Moon ColourPop collection.
Sailor Moon ColourPop collection.ColourPop

Makeup fans need no introduction to ColourPop Cosmetics. The brand was founded 10 years ago by parent company, Seed Beauty, when it launched Super Shock Shadows – a cream-to-powder eyeshadow formula that promised to pack a punch. With the success of the Super Shock Shadows, ColourPop expanded its line to include lip and face products and began releasing collaborative collections. Since, the brand has worked with Disney, Sanrio, Harry Potter and others.

If there’s demand for an IP-themed makeup collection, chances are ColourPop is working on it (if they haven’t done it already). As beauty continues to be a hot opportunity for brand extensions, Dasha Suharev, director, brand partnerships and growth, ColourPop Cosmetics, chats with License Global about the brand’s meteoric rise in the licensing space and how it approaches collaborative collections. 

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A Customer-First Approach 

More than 50 collaborations over the last five years have made ColourPop one of the leading beauty brands in the consumer products space. Suharev says that ColourPop’s engaged fan base inspires the number of collaborations and the attention to detail in each.

 “Our inspiration behind all these collaborations always comes back to our core brand value: our customers,” says Suharev. “We are known for listening and responding to our community’s asks, carefully taking into account our customers’ feedback so that their interests are front and center. We continue to see strong demand for licensed consumer products and want to ensure we can accommodate this ask from the community. We’ve had numerous collections sell out in 10 minutes (or less), so we want to ensure we can continue building on this demand. The inspiration truly always comes back to our fanbase.” 

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This connection with its fanbase and their favorite properties enables the company to work with some of the biggest IPs in the world. ColourPop values selecting the right partners to ensure it serves exactly what its consumers are searching for. 

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“This is a lengthy process,” continues Suharev. “First, ensuring that our customers have a strong appetite for the collab – as we are a customer-centric brand. Our social listening tools are key to understanding what types of partnerships our customers are interested in (we have dedicated reporting internally to ensure we’re hearing what our customers are asking for). Then, we conduct comprehensive market research to identify trends, target audience preferences and gaps in the market. We also have a rigorous proprietary scorecard to help evaluate the best partners for the brand. We take a lot of time to understand the partners’ brand guidelines upfront and how we can push those boundaries while staying in our sandbox to ensure we merge the two brands authentically.” 

Licensing as a Story 

Once IPs are selected, the company focuses on telling a story through its products. The products act as a jumping off point to retell the story of the IP. Whether it’s shade names, products chosen or the color story, ColourPop aims to tell a story authentically through its launches.

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“Storytelling through our collections is what’s made us known in the licensing space,” says Suharev. “We spend countless hours choosing the right partners, building out an intentional product assortment, choosing the correct artwork and shades and telling a story through our unique and different products, but remain true to the IP. We see the most success when there is a 50/50 split between ColourPop and the partner, so we work hard to merge the ColourPop brand identity, product formulas that made us famous and the IP in a unique way that stays true to both parties. This ability to create unique products, our robust social and influencer marketing network and a loyal beauty community have allowed us to continue to excel within the licensing space. Authenticity is key throughout all our packaging, shades, artwork and marketing. We work closely with the licensor to ensure all elements are authentic and true. Regular communication between partners is key to ensuring this seamless integration. We also work with internal and external fans so that each detail in our collaborations has a meaning and stays true to the overall IP.”

The latest licensed launches from ColourPop include its popular “Twilight” collection, based on the film and book series. Rather than a vampire-red color story, the launch included an eyeshadow palette inspired by the blue-green filter of the first film. The collection also featured lip oils, a shimmering body oil, metallic eyeliners and highlighters. Additional collaborations recently launched include “Naruto,” “Winx Club” and a continuation of its previous “Sailor Moon” collab. More are on the way, according to Suharev, including another restock of the “Twilight” collaboration. 

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“Our latest launch was our highly requested ‘Twilight’ collection, which sold out in less than 10 minutes,” says Suharev. “Our ‘Twilight’ collection performed better than we hoped, and we are working hard on a restock for our community. Outside of ‘Twilight,’ our fans can expect some amazing new licensed collaborations with new, exciting partners this year. We can’t give away too much just yet, but get ready for some new ColourPop collaborations this year across our DTC, Ulta Beauty and Target.” 

Though the brand has exploded, licensing has proven valuable to ColourPop’s overall business strategy. It has acquired dedicated fans through the execution of its collaborations with intellectual property. “Through licensed collaborations, we can attract and acquire new hyper-engaged audiences while expanding our existing hyper-engaged beauty community,” says Suharev. “We carefully select collaborations that hit these various communities, such as our previous ‘Animal Crossing’ collaboration, which targeted the gaming community, ‘Sailor Moon’ and ‘Avatar’ hitting the anime community, NBA hitting the professional sports community and ‘Twilight’ hitting that community that craves nostalgia. This allows us to not only prioritize the various existing ColourPop audiences but also expand and acquire new audiences.” 

Considering the massive impact ColourPop has had in the cosmetics licensing space, it’s hard to imagine it not being around even a decade ago. In 2024, ColourPop will mark 10 years in the beauty industry. Still, through its product creation strategy, both licensed and unlicensed, the company is continuing to grow and make its name in the affordable beauty space even more prominent. Authentic, comprehensive launches, engaging with its fanbase and understanding IP fans’ desires have brought the beauty brand to the forefront of the cosmetics discourse.

The article was taken from March's issue of License Global. Read the issue in full here.

About the Author(s)

McKenna Morgan

Content Editor, License Global

McKenna Morgan is Content Editor for License Global. Based in the Santa Monica office, McKenna specializes in coverage involving non-profits, beauty and cosmetics, health and wellness, new and social media and entertainment licensing.

When McKenna isn’t covering the latest licensing news, she spends her time attending live music shows and finding her next travel destination.

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