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Influencers: The New Beauty Tastemakers

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Beauty players enlist social media stars to help boost brands

Kylie Jenner

Kylie Jenner is the social media queen, with 97 million followers on her own Instagram and 14.2 million on her kyliecosmetics Instagram.

NEW YORK — Not that long ago, beauty marketers pumped mega-dollars into a beauty brand or hired a celebrity to hawk it. Big brands prospered, while niche lines often got lost in the shuffle.

Today, one post by Kylie Jenner about a beauty item, especially her own, can break the internet with activity. Few people were paying much attention to eyebrows until Anastasia Soare, who had been grooming clients in a Beverly Hills salon, kicked into high gear with an Instagram account in 2012. She now has 14.4 million Instagram followers and is credited with cracking open the booming brow business that cascaded down to the mass market, too.

Major beauty brands are adding influencers to their rosters to garner the attention of younger consumers.

Influencers, a term that emerged in just the past five years, is considered an official profession, according to a survey from IndaHash, an app that connects brands with influencers. That survey found, not surprisingly, most influencers are women. Seventy-seven percent of influencers surveyed also claimed to be competitive with traditional media.

Why has the voice of the influencer been amplified? As with many consumer trends, Millennials have changed the conversation.

According to Nielsen, online reviews are not the most trusted source of advertising. Seventy percent of consumers rely on product reviews before making purchases while 92% trust reviews over branded content. A Bazaarvoice survey indicates that 45% of offline purchases are influenced by user-generated content.

Kandee Johnson_beauty influencers

Kandee Johnson

Beauty companies from the biggest, such as L’Oréal, to nimble niche brands, including Nudestix and Boots’ Sleek, are turning to influencers to build traction for their beauty lines. This practice has put all players on an even playing field — often resulting in the venerable nameplates losing shelf space to independent items garnering attention on social platforms.

Content providers have put a spark in many mass market brands, including Paris Presents Real Techniques; OGX with its Rock What You Got campaign with several influencers; L’Oréal’s Beauty Squad; and the four distinct faces handpicked by Almay for its new push called Reveal The True You. The latter spotlights women with backgrounds ranging from Hispanic to Lebanese, and light to darker complexions help Almay broaden its reach through video content on Instagram and Facebook through their personal stories about how there is no longer one definition of beauty.

Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) has a unique campaign with beauty influencers to help launch Sleek Makeup, which is sold in Ulta Beauty and selected Walgreens doors.

Called The GlowDown, the campaign pits social stars against drag queens in a series of makeup challenges. YouTuber Laura Lee hosts each face off, along with influencers Bri Hall, Sonjdra Deluxe, Nazanin Kavari and Kristen Leanne, and drag queen stars Miss Fame, Peppermint, Pearl and Violet Chachki. Each challenge includes two participants, an influencer and a drag queen, who go face to face to create personalized looks based on a specific theme, rallying around Sleek’s #MyFaceMyRules mantra.

“By pairing beauty’s top names and faces alongside one another, we are able to celebrate their own unique styles, while encouraging makeup lovers everywhere to do the same,” said Lauren Consiglio, category director of global consumer brands for the Americas at WBA.

Within the content provider community, there are subsegments emerging. Some social media stars prefer to expand their postings into lifestyle so they show off fashion, their exotic travels, food and beauty tips. Others are hyper-focused and often have fewer than 100,000 followers.

But for some in the industry, these “micro influencers” are highly coveted, because they have greater engagement. They have more people commenting on posts and more direct messaging. Many companies zero in on the micro influencers who they feel net greater conversion at cash ­registers.

Sam and Nic Chapman_beauty influencers

Sam and Nic Chapman

Beauty companies are staging their own contests to find the next big beauty influencers. NYX, for example, has staged its FACE Awards for six years to identify the Vlogger of the Year. NYX helps launch the winning makeup artist’s career. This year’s winner was Jessica A.M. Kalil, who takes home $50,000 in prize money, consultations with professional makeup artists and a year’s supply of NYX Professional Makeup. There were more than 1,000 video entries for this year’s contest.

“The beauty industry has seen a large shift in growth due to the power of influencers. We’ve been lucky at NYX Professional Makeup to be a historical source and platform for their career launch as artists, online and off-line. We’ll continue to foster the growth of influencers and have them be part of our family,” said NYX assistant vice president of integrated marketing Sarah El-Annan.

A growing cadre of influencers are producing their own beauty lines. Of course, Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian are prime examples, but those with smaller followings are, too.

Mariale Marrero, a Venezuela-born YouTube star, released her own lip kit earlier this year. Fleur Bell, known as Fleur de Force, launched her own and worked on lashes from Eylure. YouTube makeup social media personalities Jeffree Star and Manny Gutierrez created the Jeffree Star Cosmetics x Manny MUA collaboration.

Without extensive budgets and studios to shoot, some brands fear their products aren’t presented to perfection by YouTubers or on Instagram. Several public relations firms, such as Coburn Communications and Tractenberg & Co., crafted solutions. Coburn has a studio for influencers and companies to shoot spots. Tractenberg has a lounge for social postings and one-on-one events.

And then there is the question, “When will the bubble burst?” At this point, said one buyer, there’s no letup. “Every company is coming to us with the same stories — they are adding more multicultural products and using influencers.”

There are thousands of beauty influencers across the globe. On the ensuing pages are 30 influencers who have scored some of the biggest deals in beauty, are making waves in the category or have been proven able to help sell products that they post.


CHECK OUT OUR LIST OF MAJOR BEAUTY INFLUENCERS ON THE FOLLOWING PAGES

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