Justin Bieber nail polish and other overpriced celebrity goods
When I was a kid I had a newspaper route, although those are mostly done by grown-ups now, so kids must have to find other ways to make money. I didn't have throngs of teenage girls screaming my name at concerts, either, so I can see how Bieber is trying to take advantage of his celebrity and make some extra cash while he's the hot flavor of the month.
Bieber is being hired by Nicole by OPI to create a line of polish called One Less Lonely Girl. The collection has six shades: One Less Lonely Glitter (pale purple), Prized Possession Purple (grape), Give Me The First Dance (silver), Me + Blue (metallic blue), O.M.B! (metallic red) and Step 2 the Beat of My Heart (heart shaped specks).
They'll be sold exclusively at Walmart starting in December, which gives you an idea of the target audience (and maybe their moms, too). In February 2011, the Bieber polish will also be sold at Target and Ulta. The Nicole by OPI website doesn't list prices, but some of its polishes can be found for $9, and other brands of nail polish cost $18 each at Nordstrom.
But since Walmart and Target will be selling Bieber's polish, we're guessing it will be much less than $18 for a bottle, and probably closer to $9. Whatever the cost, there has to be enough markup to give the pop star his cut. That's why celebrities put their names on things -- to increase sales for the company and make money for themselves. It's a win-win for everyone but the consumer. Researchers in the Netherlands found that women like celebrity-endorsed products more than the same products not endorsed by celebrities, so there's a reason why the sellers of weight loss products and other things seek out the Kardashian sisters to sell their wares.
Without knowing the price, it's difficult to say if Bieber's nail polish will be a total ripoff or a partial ripoff for his fans. Maybe getting that Bieber sparkle is worth an extra hour of babysitting. But when buying celebrity-endorsed products, it pays off to shop around. Here are some other celebrity products and what the generic version costs:
Justin Bieber headphones
With only Bieber's name stenciled on the outside, these Beats headphones by Dr. Dre are $200 for the on-ear model and $120 for the in-air version. That's a lot to pay to show off Bieber's brand. Quality headphones are expensive, but $50 will buy a great pair of headphones, but without a celebrity name attached.
Bill Wyman metal detector
Nothing against a member of the Rolling Stones who wants to stroll the beaches looking for coins, but charging the equivalent of $192 in U.S. dollars for the Bill Wyman Signature Detector is a bit off. Other metal detectors can be more expensive, but $99 is a better way to get into the hobby.
Barbra Streisand dog thermal hoodie
For Streisand fans with small dogs, the hoodie is $19.95, discounted from $29.95. The Streisand crest (who knew there was such a thing?) is on the back, so every "Yentl" fan will know you're part of the "in" crowd, and it has a pocket for carrying biscuits. A generic thermal hoodie for your dog is on sale for $8.70 after being discounted from $17.09, making the original price already cheaper than Streisand's sale.
Rachael Ray cookware set
You could probably pick anything from Ray's online store and find it to be overpriced. Or you could find it irresistible and buy it anyway. Her 14-piece hard anodized cookware set is $300 and looks like a quality product, but the price is a little steep. A similar set from Calphalon is on sale at Amazon for $294, which is only $6 less than Ray's but 25% less than the $390 list price for the high quality Calphalon product.
Way back in 2001, the band KISS sold what it called the KISS Kasket for $4,500 (unsigned) or $5,000 for a signed coffin with its logo all over it. Until death comes, it made an interesting beer cooler. A wholesale coffin runs about $900. You could buy a lot of KISS stickers for the money you save.
Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area.