Why Influencer Marketing Prevailed In The Beauty Industry

8 Min Read |

Influencers have been changing the face of the beauty industry in recent years, attracting cult-like followings on social media, particularly Instagram and YouTube. In the competition for the consumer’s attention, influencers are winning with stylish collections of photos and videos, as consumers increasingly reject more traditional forms of marketing like TV commercials and magazine ads—even those with smiling celebrities pitching beauty products—as less credible and less trustworthy.

In 2019, an estimated 2.95 billion people were using social media globally, a number projected to increase to almost 3.43 billion in 2023. Social network penetration is constantly increasing worldwide and as of January 2020 stood at 49 percent. With such extraordinary growth, it’s understandable why new marketing strategies have emerged that were not contemplated just a decade ago.

By 2020, the influencer marketing industry will be worth an estimated $10 billion. The growth and continued upward trajectory of this industry has been astounding and is fast becoming one of the most important areas in brand communications for many businesses. Marketing teams are increasingly allocating large chunks of their budgets towards influencer marketing in a bid to extend the impact of their digital strategies. So why has the relationship between influencer marketing and the beauty industry proved so mutually beneficial.

Social Proof

According to Robert Cialdini, who studied the principle of social proof in-depth in his book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, “we view a behavior as more correct in a given situation to the degree that we see others performing it”. Often in situations where we are uncertain about what to do, we assume that the people around us (experts, celebrities, friends, etc.) have more knowledge about what’s happening and what should be done.

It is human nature to seek direction from peers and trusted sources when encountering unfamiliar or new situations. It’s easier for people to buy new products or services when they see that other people use it, especially through individuals they trust. Influencer marketing is a visual demonstration of how it works. According to the research, 88% of consumers trust online recommendations as much as personal ones, and this is proved by high ROIs.

Having realized the opportunity, beauty brands with a clear understanding of consumer behavior have tapped into the power of online influencers for endorsement opportunities.

Brand Building

Influencers have legitimate reach and form deep, organic connections with audiences by creating engaging content; sharing stories, images, and videos with their dedicated, always-on fans, multiple times a day. They also have the ability to diversify across numerous social platforms and provide brands with the opportunity to amplify their marketing campaigns and cross-promote through the vast, ever-growing networks they have built. 

Working with influencers can unlock many powerful advantages, such as the level of authenticity your products can achieve when they are supported by someone who has the respect and admiration of an army of online followers. Today’s customers are more educated and often make purchase decisions based on research, reviews, and even personal recommendations.

Thanks to the success these influencers have achieved to date, many forward-thinking beauty brands are eager to work alongside these leading social media stars. Their aim is simple; they too want to tap into these influencer’s sphere of reach, which potentially adds up to millions of socially engaged consumers. As a result, these brands are recognising the value of the influencer ecosystem – and they want to play their part.

According to The State of Influencer Marketing 2020 from Influencer Marketing Hub, 91 per cent of survey respondents from the beauty industry believe influencer marketing is effective. For every $1 spent on this strategy, brands secured an average return on investment of $5.78.

Building brand with influencer marketing works when a company commits to long lasting partnerships with authentic and highly valuable influencer communities and refrain from one-time product placements.

Gen-Z Driven Market

The popularity of social media among Gen Z consumers and their willingness to listen to the opinions of influencers is a key reason why marketers have paid close attention to influencer marketing in order to capture the attention of this group. Influencer marketing has been especially important in connecting with Gen Zers, who tend to be more difficult to reach through traditional media channels like TV and print.

Kantar’s research indicates that Facebook is the most popular social media app among Gen Z. Still, other research indicates that Facebook-owned Instagram is the most popular app for influencer campaigns. Almost 80% of brands using the image-sharing app most frequently for influencer campaigns, making it more popular than Facebook (46%), YouTube (36%), Twitter (24%) and LinkedIn (12%), according to Influencer Marketing Hub. Instagram’s role in the space has grown with its user base, which eMarketer forecasts will lift 5.4% to 112.5 million U.S. users this year.

Gen Z is living in an age where brands are telling individuals it’s ok to be themselves, and not aspire to look like the year’s most popular celebrity. Part of this change has been driven by the rise of influencer culture. Like the principles referenced in social proof, young adults are living in a world where they learn and embrace trends through peers. Gen Z tells Gen Z how to look like the best version of themselves.

This shift in behavior has not gone unnoticed by the beauty industry. Kylie Cosmetics, founded in 2015 by Gen Z’s own Kylie Jenner, is worth an estimated $900 million. Prestige brands are now playing catch-up. According to Piper Jaffray’s recent survey of US teens, just one heritage label, Clinique, ranked among Gen Z’s 10 favourite skincare brands. To court younger consumers, these decades-old brands are signing teen-friendly ambassadors — Zendaya (22) for Lancôme, Yara Shahidi (19) for Bobbi Brown and Kaia Gerber (17) for YSL Beauty – as well as experimenting with a raft of creative marketing strategies and targeted product lines.

Be it addressing topics such as veganism, sustainability or eco-friendly product offerings that appeal to a socially-aware audience or involving audiences in their content creation process through contests and giveaways, influencers are the perfect candidates as brand advocates to tap into this young audiences’ mind.


Influencers help them forge relationships with consumers that they perhaps couldn’t do alone. According to the The State of Influencer Marketing, 76% of those surveyed affirmed that influencer campaigns are effective for building customer loyalty. With the multitude of messages and signals that we consume on a daily basis, brands are looking for specialized channels of communication that their audience trust and are more primed to listen to when it comes to their beauty marketing strategies.

Instagram and YouTube are the go-to platforms of beauty influencers, but it is YouTube that is preferred by these creators for connecting with their audiences as they can communicate their personality via video content. The average engagement rate on YouTube is much higher than that of Instagram for all tiers of influencer.

YouTube makeup tutorials with established influencers have been the perfect vehicle to drive conversation around a product and build a rapport with the audience. Beauty brands are in a position to promote products and services that can be easily demonstrated for other people to see. Influencer marketing works effectively for beauty brands because influencers can easily create content using the branded products and showcase the results through video or live-streaming.

As Rihanna’s namesake brand, Fenty Beauty takes advantage of beauty influencer marketing by putting a famous name front and center in all aspects of its communication. Fenty also succeeds in creating content for a wide variety of customers, including those with different skin tones and different approaches to style. Rihanna herself is involved with much of the brand’s content, personally applying products in tutorials and providing an approachable sense of aspiration.

Ad Blocking

According to PageFair, 615 million people use Adblock apps. But people can’t block a bloggers’ post, even if it has a promotional nature. Moreover, they won’t even think of that — because influencer’s posts are interesting to them. They will read, discuss, and engage.

As Influencer marketing is typically a partnership with an influencer to review and promote a brand or product, it’s widely considered one of the most cost-effective and powerful strategies used today. And because there is no “ad” in a sense, nothing is blocked or filtered. This puts your message in front of as many eyes as possible, and provided the correct research has been completed beforehand in finding the right influencer, it’s a targeted audience.

Done right, influencer marketing bypasses ad-blockers and delivers marketing that people actually want to see. Teenagers on YouTube following popular make-up artists, for example, trust the opinion and recommendations of these influencers more than celebrities. They relate better to them, and believe the influencer understands them as well or better than their friends.

Looking To The Future

Audiences are constantly looking for the most authentic content and influencer recommendations are the new currency of transparency to build customer trust. As such, partnering with influencers help to sustain the momentum of publishing new and authentic content that resonates with the brand’s target audiences and to reach the right demographic and niche audiences.

It is a fact that beauty brands have adopted influencer marketing more fervently than any other industries. With the correct approach and marketing strategy, there is no denial that digital-influencers will still play critical roles in propelling beauty brands to the next level. But at the same time,  in the modern beauty industry, genuine success depends on having an authentic, relevant and engaging brand, which has earned loyalty by providing quality products and a rewarding customer experience.

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