The Evolving Concept Of Beauty In The Gulf

5 Min Read |

Even compared to just a few years ago the cosmetics sector today looks vastly different. Beauty is no longer restricted by region, culture or even gender. The internet has transformed how we engage with beauty.

Whatever your location or background, the internet provides access to others with a similar interest or mind-set around beauty trends from around the world. Living in one location no longer means you cannot become part of a tribe that follows a trend from elsewhere in the world.

The built-in capacity of social media for content to go viral has enabled the spread of innovative trends and beauty practices across the globe. For anyone who wants to experiment with K-Beauty or sample the Goth look, all they have to do is follow one of the many bloggers.

This new global beauty landscape is opening up new opportunities for brands, influencers and followers. A report recently published by Tribe Dynamics looks at how social media impacts on the dynamics between brands and the market. It has quantified the value of publicity gained from using the various forms of digital media; assigning a monetary value to each piece of content, based on perceived value of digital word-of-mouth to brands in the industry.

A very successful merchant in the 19th century John Wanamaker, coined the now familiar phrase, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” Putting a value on social media is no different. What value can you put on a like? Or a retweet? These are the sort of questions that come up when brands are planning their marketing strategies. To understand the real value of social media to an organisation it’s just as important to look at the relational value as the transactional.

Earned Media Value (EMV) provides a means of benchmarking value across marketing activities such as posts from retailers, influencers, publications and brands. It rates online activities according to a scale of values ranging from video and blog views at the lower end of the scale through to likes/favourites, then comments, with shares, repins and retweets at the top end.

The report suggests strong growth in influencer following in the Gulf Region with an average QoQ increase of 2.4%. The community of influencers carries a lot of weight; a fact recognised by the major brands operating in the region.

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One of my favourite Abaya designers in Dubai???? @hessafalasi ❤️ always has the best Abayas ????

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The best performing bloggers in the region were the key drivers behind Pantene’s success; responsible for 86% of a total EMV of $419.5K. Pantene has one of the most dominant influencer communities in the region and their ambassadors generate an average $42.0K per influencer compared with $20.2- the average for the region’s top beauty brands.

In the Gulf Region, collaborations are proving to be the key to consistent content creation where several brands chose to work with a few select influencers through product partnerships. Fouz Al-Fahad, a top-tier level influencer in the region, and one of the most successful, collaborated with Pantene by creating content for their #StrongisBeautiful campaign which achieved $327.2K. The beauty blogger @therealfouz on Instagram with 2.6 million followers) is a Kuwaiti makeup artist who started posting makeup tutorials in 2014 on the Kuwaiti TvBelMokhba YouTube channel. In late 2017 she collaborated with MAC for a relaunch of her custom lip colour, which sold out after its initial release in June. It formed part of a global campaign by the beauty giants who have worked with select influencers, YouTube beauty gurus and makeup artists to create 10 unique lipstick shades. Each shade was named after, and chosen by a social media star and representing different regions around the world.

The report divides the community of influencers by tier – powerhouse, established mid-tier and micro. Al-Fahad features in the top tier while the report  also mentions – Nida – a mid-tier lifestyle blogger with of 256K followers, Sheida Babareza – an established fashion, beauty and lifestyle blogger since 2014 and Maysam – a micro-tier makeup guru and eyeshadow expert from Bahrain with a following of 67k.

The average EMV for the top 20 brands in the Gulf region was $2.3 Million per brand compared with $123.4 Million in the US and $21.0 Million in the UK. Top grossing brand for the region was MAC with an EMV of $6.2 million.

Perhaps, not surprisingly, Huda Beauty is mentioned as a high-performing local brand in the region with a YoY growth of 128% and generating an EMV of $4.9 million. The brand’s #Faux Filter Foundation was the top earning product scoring mentions from 48 unique ambassadors. 70% of the influencers who uploaded a post about the product mentioned it more than once- suggesting that the product has widespread and sustained popularity.

Significantly, the report indicates that the influencer market is still growing across all markets with, bloggers in local language markets growing at the fastest rate. Brands considering entering the market or expanding can capitalise on this opportunity by building relationships with budding influencers early on and so profit from increasing reach.

The report also found that brand preference is increasingly tied to language preference and local language influencers are more likely to strongly promote local brands. Brands working across ethnicities need to be aware of this segmentation among their consumers and adjust their strategies accordingly.

One of the key positive conclusions in the report is that the global nature of social media means that brands can develop markets in any part of the world without having a physical retail presence; beauty trends and practises know no boundaries. This is key for smaller brands and start-ups as well as established players, as entering a new market, or launching a new product in an existing market, is always fraught with uncertainty. Collaborations with influencers, either on an individual basis or in teams can be an efficient and low cost way for brands to gain insights and create momentum in a market before establishing a retail presence.