The influence YouTube beauty vloggers maintain over their subscribers is undeniable. With 73% of Millennials viewing it as their responsibility to guide friends, peers, and family toward smart purchase decisions, beauty influencers exercise the power to deliver honest and credible feedback regarding the legitimacy of brand claims. A mascara that lengthens lashes by 10x? We will see about that.
Their opinions can make or break the launch of a new product and subsequent reputability of a brand. For example, take the top 200 most-viewed beauty videos on YouTube; 86% were filmed by bloggers whilst only 14% where by beauty brands. Therefore, when we talk about the ‘power’ of YouTube, we are talking about that incomparable authenticity unique to real people, with real opinions.
With the influencer market continuing to expand at a rapid speed, and the potential for exposure and positive sentiment leading to a consequent spike in sales, it is obvious why leading brands are turning to these self-made beauty gurus. What is compelling is how brands are increasingly using and applying innovative approaches to influencer marketing to generate consumer engagement.
Since the boom of the beauty vlogger in the late noughties (one word, Zoella), brands have evolved their marketing strategies to encapsulate such authenticity, be it through affiliation, imitation or collaboration.
Take Loreal for example. Back in 2016, they increased their market share and improved brand reputation through deploying their first ever influencer-led campaign. In support of the release of the True Match foundation range, Loreal launched the #YoursTruly campaign; sourcing a diverse mix of YouTube influencers to establish the range as inclusive and credible. Since the campaign, and further collaboration with YouTuber’s, L’Oréal has since experienced a positive uplift in sentiment as well as sales.
Becca’s product collaboration with YouTube beauty vlogger, Jaclyn Hill, of a limited edition ‘champagne pop’ highlighter, is another example of a brand nailing it. Drawing on Jaclyn’s, at the time, 3 million subscribers and personable approach, Becca broke Sephora’s record to become the store’s most-purchased product on its first day of release alone selling out 25,000 units in 20 minutes. This initial success propelled Becca from relatively unknown, with a consumer brand recognition of 0.5%, to a brand with a two million strong Instagram following. In late 2016 the company was then sold on to Estee Lauder for a reported 200 million.
However, failure to recognise an audience’s needs, overpricing and portraying a lack of diversity can lead to a financial and reputational loss for both YouTuber and brand. YouTube has the power to reward and ruin, as Benefit Cosmetics found with their collaboration with five big beauty YouTuber’s for their Beauty Stowaway set. The set received huge online backlash for products which were suitable for white skin only, unoriginal and minuscule in size.
In summary, if done well, YouTube influencers offer brands countless opportunity to engage an audience they would otherwise have limited access to and derive credibility not found in traditional advertisements. However, with the influencer market becoming more cluttered with beauty brand affiliations, it is questionable whether YouTuber’s can continue to maintain such reliability and, in turn, power.