An analysis of beauty brands’ performance in Earned Media Value (EMV), (Tribe Dynamics’ proprietary metric for quantifying the estimated value of digital earned media), points to the key trends in influencer activity that spelt success for Q4 2020’s top independent cosmetics, skincare and haircare brands. It suggests strategic steps that all indie beauty brands can take to level up their influencer marketing programs in 2021.
Sustained enthusiasm for self-care drives momentum for Tula Skincare and Belif
Taking the time to address skincare needs isn’t only more convenient when you’re stuck at home; the soothing ritual also provided a much-needed reprieve from 2020’s stresses. It only follows that two of Q4’s fastest-growing indie skincare brands both benefited from lifestyle influencer posts that positioned caring for one’s skin as a wellness practice. For example, Tula skincare inspired content creation about its probiotic-powered products via its ongoing #EmbraceYourSkin campaign, which celebrates self-compassion and self-acceptance. Thanks to heartfelt posts from influencers such as lifestyle blogger and mental health advocate Katy (@mumuandmacaroons on Instagram), the initiative accounted for $4 million EMV of Tula’s $18.4 million EMV Q4 haul, contributing to the brand’s 38 per cent quarter-over-quarter EMV growth. Meanwhile, Belif owed its 77 per cent quarter-on-quarter EMV improvement (the brand accrued $4.6 million EMV in Q4) partly to a wave of activity around its hydrating Aqua Bomb products. Members of Belif’s #BelifBFF family championed offerings from the range after receiving them in PR sends, emphasising the importance of “nourishing” their complexions during the dry winter months.
Halloween hype triggers EMV spikes for indie special-effects makeup brands
Clubs may have been closed this Halloween, but the party was as hot as ever on Instagram, where influencers shared theatrical, full-face makeup creations. Many independent special-effects and costume makeup brands enjoyed sizable EMV boosts from the show: Mehron Makeup, for example, increased its EMV by 105 per cent from Q3 to Q4 of 2020. The #HalloweenMakeup craze almost entirely fueled this surge — the brand stoked holiday excitement with its annual #31DaysOfMehronHalloween challenge, inviting influencers to share new Halloween looks featuring the brand’s products every day of October. Altogether, #HalloweenMakeup accounted for $18.8 million EMV of Mehron Makeup’s $55.6 million EMV Q4 total, while #31DaysOfMehronHalloween collected $5.4 million EMV.
Similarly, Ben Nye raced ahead 115 per cent quarter-on-quarter in EMV, owing $3.9 million EMV of its $12 million EMV Q4 haul to content tagged #HalloweenMakeup. Halloween’s consistent and pronounced impact on cosmetics brands’ EMV performance, relative to other holidays, is largely a result of content creators’ posting habits. Even outside of Mehron Makeup’s initiative, special-effects makeup bloggers, such as Naezrah (@naezrahlooks), who ranked among the top 10 EMV-driving influencers for both Mehron Makeup and Ben Nye in Q4, generally celebrate Halloween with series of themed looks that feature offerings from multiple brands.
Insert Name Here, Bellami prove wigs and extensions are for everyday ‘dos
In 2020, wigs and hair extensions found an even larger audience: with access to professional haircare limited by salon closures, content creators got increasingly creative at home with temporary styles, inspiring ample conversation about their brands such as Insert Name Here, whose $15.9 million EMV in Q4 represented two per cent quarter-over-quarter and 82 per cent year-over-year gains. In addition to scoring a high-impact Halloween shout-out from TikTok star Avani Gregg (@avani), the wigs and extensions brand featured widely in unsponsored beauty and fashion posts from lifestyle bloggers eager to change up their ’dos. Bellami, too, saw an uptick in influencer activity this past quarter, increasing its EMV by 20 per cent from Q3 to close Q4 with $17.4 million EMV. The brand’s success can be partly attributed to the debut of its collaborative collection with Canadian actor Kristen Hancher (@kristenhancher), which Hancher promoted enthusiastically, as well as broader organic enthusiasm among influencers and celebrities.
Building a cult beauty brand without the backing of a large corporation has always been a noteworthy feat. When small businesses around the world are confronting steep losses in revenue, and even some of the most storied names in beauty are struggling to keep up with consumers’ changing behaviour, indie brands merit particular recognition for closing 2020 strong. And with a new year ahead of us, brands still grappling to get ahead in an uncertain and ever-competitive climate should hardly give up hope. The following takeaways offer a primer for both up-and-coming and established beauty brands to energise fans and kick-off 2021 better equipped than ever to excel on social media.
1. Embrace cultural shifts in content creation
Like culture, the topics that resonate most on social media change with the times. During the pandemic, beauty influencers have increasingly eschewed more performative, aspirational content to focus on the role that daily practices, such as skincare routines, have on their sense of wellbeing. Rather than trying to redirect influencer conversation when it doesn’t align with your brand’s messaging, embrace the natural evolution of influencer and consumer priorities and adapt by creating new initiatives that cater to your fans’ current interests.
2. Capitalise on holidays and events (from home)
The absence of in-person events doesn’t mean that holidays and other events, such as weddings and awards shows, don’t still carry meaning for influencers — or that brands can’t unite their fans around important moments. The success of Mehron Makeup’s #31DaysofMehronHalloween campaign and broader proliferation of Halloween content is a testament to beauty enthusiasts’ continuing excitement to celebrate with their favourite brands, even from a distance. Leverage content creation opportunities already on influencers’ calendars with creative, compelling initiatives your fans will look forward to participating in.
3. Iterate on organic support
Nurturing content creators’ existing affinity for your brand and products is the foundation of any effective and sustainable influencer marketing strategy. If, like Bellami, your brand is inspiring a significant volume of organic content creation, don’t hesitate to stoke their enthusiasm with a new launch or campaign that reaffirms the reasons your fans already love you. Better yet, collaborate with a time-honoured advocate to recognise their consistent support and take your relationship to the next level. Influencers love to celebrate and participate in their favourite brands’ accomplishments, and you’ll reap the rewards in EMV.