The rise of influencer marketing at once delighted and flummoxed CMOs. The lure of incredible visibility, a fresh form of persuasion, and engaging content battled with an overall inability to prove ROI and assess how much to pay and for which activities. Yet the benefits quashed the negatives, and influencers of all tiers flourished. Concurrently, the beauty industry surged, in part as a response to the hyper-visual world of social media. Beauty also accelerated because new direct-to-consumer brands changed the way that they spoke to consumers. Education and communication around products became friendlier and simpler, and women felt more comfortable trying new things from their social feeds. There is now more data around influencer effectiveness that can help guide brand strategy.
In the last year, influencer-sponsored content on Instagram in North America surged 150%. #Fashion is the top trending hashtag, but beauty influencers are driving three times the number of mentions than those promoting fashion brands. Gen Z, in particular, leads the conversation, while Millennials and Gen X are bringing their considerable purchasing power to the discussion. So, what are the factors driving this cross-generational engagement? In general, women seek out influencers for education and remain for entertainment. 69% of Gen Z and Millennial women follow beauty influencers for the tutorials, 52% follow to discover new products, and product reviews motivate 49%. Another niche seeking benefits from beauty influencers are busy mothers; expert recommendations paired with easy checkout results in time saved.
Regarding entertainment, the buzz around beauty is capitalized on weekly (if not daily). Major celebrities and bloggers now consistently unveil exclusive collections, drumming up ceaseless newness, fun, and frenzy.
DISPELLING ROI WOES
Understanding how influencers affect the path to purchase and drive sales is becoming more important—and more apparent. New research notes that Instagram beauty bloggers impacted the purchases of 34% of survey respondents; 28% felt similarly, but with celebrities. Products that do not require choosing a shade perform better via social media. For example, 57% of women surveyed reported that they purchased haircare as a result of social media; skincare and body care are also thriving due to influencers. And although YouTube is essential—particularly with Gen Z—much of this activity happens on Instagram, a behavior set to continue. Shortly after debuting new in-app checkout in March, Instagram now allows users to shop directly from influencer posts, too. This development will simultaneously re-define the conversation around influencer ROI and bolster Facebook’s formidable grasp of user data.
IT’S NOT ALL ROSY
Beauty influencers have disrupted the $52B beauty industry significantly already. That said, there are issues with trust and plenty of skepticism. Women continue to rely on friends and family for recommendations mainly, and only 32% of women surveyed trust internet celebrities. Younger generations ask more from brands and the callout culture very much applies to the beauty industry, with accounts like Estee Laundry determined to keep brands honest. So, while the data persuasively recommends that brands play in the influencer beauty space, they still need to take care with messaging and prepare for negative responses. Most importantly, consumers need to feel that the partnership between brand and influencer is honest.
In a sign of their growing power, many influencers are, like Kylie Jenner, creating their own beauty lines. One to watch: Target’s launch of a new body care brand called LoveAnyBody, in partnership with YouTube and Instagram influencer Loey Lane. Target is betting that Lane, who has a powerful message of size inclusivity, will inspire women and stand out in the increasingly crowded beauty space.
Sources: Marketing Land, eMarketer, The Atlantic, Mintel Beauty Influencers, US, February 2019, The Wall Street Journal