The beauty industry runs on two main principles: visuals and trends. Beauty is subjective, and by curating the images consumers see and constantly searching for the next big thing, luxury beauty brands have kept the industry evolving over time.
The newest evolution in beauty, however, is not being controlled by the brands, but by consumers who have taken matters into their own hands. The rise of social media has turned advertising and customer outreach completely on its head. Brands no longer have complete control of how their products are represented, shared, and reviewed. Consumers are using the beauty industry to create brands of their own, and the industry has certainly taken notice. The masterful way that the beauty industry has harnessed the power of this user-generated content should cause all other industries to start paying attention.
The Magnitude of User-Generated Content
The first step in harnessing the power of user-generated content is to truly understand its magnitude. In the past, movie stars and other celebrities were hired by luxury makeup brands to define and influence what customers bought and used. The YouTube revolution has awarded anyone the power and tools to become celebrities themselves. Fame is now defined in the beauty industry by how many followers you have; a recent Statista survey shows that the top YouTube beauty channel Yuya accumulated 19.19 million followers as of August 2017. In addition to creating their own channels, like prominent brand Beauty Bridge, beauty brands are now beginning to work with these channels through paid endorsements or simply by providing sample products to review. This allows brands to cast the widest possible advertising net over their key beauty demographic.
User Channels & Social Media Platforms
The fervent trust that users give to these channels are causing brands to rethink their advertising budget dramatically. While placing an ad or paid endorsement within these channels is fairly expensive, depending on the channel’s level of popularity, the consumer reach is far more tangible than a magazine ad or television commercial. By strategizing appropriately, brands can successfully reach a higher volume of consumers through social media channels, while being cost effective.
YouTube may have been the birthplace of online beauty gurus, but these influencers and the beauty brands that harness them are now spreading their content across the entire arena of social networks to be consumed in all possible outlets.
A recent Pixability study found that the timing of branded content is everything. The study showed that users are consuming beauty video content throughout the day, but on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, viewer impressions reach their peak around 9 p.m. ET, while activity on YouTube peaks around 3 p.m. and again at 10 p.m. ET. Beauty brands who take note of this gain a key advantage by reaching the highest possible number of users.
Brands have found a golden opportunity within these channels to connect with customers: through customer reviews. Reviews, including both written accounts of product experience and uploaded images, allow customers to chime in on their own experience. This tool is invaluable to both potential customers and brands looking to build brand loyalty.
Interacting with Reviewers
A quick response by a brand to positive reviews will not only make customers feel special, but will afford brands the opportunity to curate their online personality. On the other end of the spectrum, addressing negative reviews publicly will create a positive customer service experience and reinforce trust in the brand. Many negative reviewers want to know that their opinion is being heard and will feel valued and appreciated when individual attention is paid to them by brands. By making customer service recovery public, you are also allowing potential buyers to see that you as a brand care about your customers and are willing to assist with any issues that may arise.
Customers and brands alike are now tuning in to the authenticity (or lack thereof) of online reviews. Although it is tempting to bulk up the number of reviews by employing a sweepstakes or other incentive, an influx of inauthentic reviews can lead to distrust of the brand.
Brands like Beauty Bridge aim to cultivate trust by a employing a customer feedback management team to moderate and authenticate every review they receive. Shoppers are significantly more likely to shop with brands that they can trust, and so managing reviews thoughtfully is imperative to capturing and keeping loyal customers.
Finally, brands have tuned in to what the social media generation is truly searching for: authenticity. The trend of extravagant, airbrushed print ads is quickly fading out and giving way to content that is relatable and genuine. By working with independent beauty channels and engaging with customers through their individual reviews, brands are leaning into the transparency that their customers are fiercely craving.
Other industries, take note: the beauty industry is truly at the forefront of harnessing user generated content to forge a deeper connection to their customer base and to exponentially grow their business.