Samantha Dover
Samantha Dover is Mintel's Category Director - Beauty & Personal Care, identifying and analysing emerging beauty and personal care trends and writing in-depth market research reports in multiple sectors.

The first lockdown saw a shift  in consumers’ beauty and grooming priorities, from colour cosmetics and fragrances to skincare. Now in this second lockdown, with consumers’ focus back on social media – beauty and personal care brands need to reconsider their marketing efforts.

The rise of the ‘skinfluencer’

Since the first lockdown, we’ve seen growing interest in the role of TikTok influencers. As the Guardian highlights, a new breed of beauty influencers – ‘skinfluencers’ – have gained popularity, as consumers turned to their phones during their spare time. 

‘Skinfluencer’ Hyram Yarbro, 24, has made $265,000 from his online brand, with 6.6 million followers on TikTok and close to 4 million on YouTube

Source: The Guardian

Consumers’ increased time on their phones has boosted consumer exposure to beauty/grooming content on social media, which in turn has buoyed demand in certain beauty and personal care categories, such as skincare.

Sectors that promote wellbeing and self-care have already performed better since the start of the pandemic than colour cosmetics and fragrances, which saw a decline in priority due to ongoing lockdowns and social distancing measures. This demand has been strengthened by a heightened emphasis on skincare on social media as beauty brands, retailers and influencers alike turned their attention to the category.

TikTok – a big opportunity

Source: Teen Vogue

Although platforms like Facebook and YouTube are instrumental for beauty and personal care brands wanting to reach a wide audience, it is in fact TikTok users who are the most likely to get beauty/grooming inspiration or advice from social media. Although this is driven by the platform’s youth bias, it also highlights how big the TikTok opportunity is for beauty and personal care brands, particularly for those targeting a young audience. 

Although usage of TikTok remains niche and its impact on purchasing is limited, its influence will continue to grow as its content is clearly resonating to many, with brands and consumers alike using TikTok in a much more experimental way than other social media platforms.

Unbiased and credible advice gains popularity

J.C. is a Marine Biology student who educates his 2.9 million followers on TikTok on everything from ocean animals, to how our skin ages, to the “best” and “worst” celebrity skincare brands.

Source: TikTok

Social media’s influence on beauty and personal consumers is significant, as over a third of online shoppers in the UK have purchased products after seeing them advertised on social media in the past 12 months. However, the influence of social media personalities remains up for debate as consumers are sceptical about how trustworthy their recommendations are. Brands need to emphasise authenticity in their influencer collaborations, as the latest research from Mintel shows that over two thirds of social media users in the UK do not trust that people on social media genuinely like the beauty/grooming products they are promoting. 

The success of various social media personalities, however, indicates that they do sway purchase decisions amongst an engaged subset of consumers, with those that provide unbiased but credible advice continuing to gain popularity

What we think

There are more brands and influencers looking for the beauty and personal care consumer’s attention than ever before, meaning the challenge going forward will be to provide consumers with information and advice that stands out. In addition, an increased focus on skincare will make the category more competitive in the future. 

Authenticity will be imperative to stand out from the crowd. This will result in a shift away from partnerships with social media personalities. Instead, expertise will be a differentiator, meaning beauty/grooming professionals and scientific experts will be used to build trust in product claims and recommendations, particularly as the COVID-19 outbreak is seeing more consumers question the credibility of the advice they are receiving.

In parallel, fostering deeper relationships with loyal customers will give further authenticity. This will see more brands utilising user-generated content and word-of-mouth marketing. Beauty and personal care brands that can provide their consumers with trustworthy advice and recommendations will also stand out. This will see diversity efforts extended as brands will need to ensure the influencers and educators they work with are relatable and reflect their customer base. Meanwhile, a greater emphasis on authenticity will result in a shift away from overly polished online content, with more emphasis instead being placed on peer-to-peer marketing and user-generated content.