84% of beauty brands choose digital influencers over celebrities

Digital influencers have overtaken celebrities as the choice of promotional talent for 84% of beauty brands.

Comparatively, just 33% of beauty brands worked with film actors in the past 12 months, solidifying a huge shift in the way beauty products are marketed in the digital age.

An in-depth report by celebrity and influencer marketing agency Celebrity Intelligence and media contact database Fashion and Beauty Monitor asked 385 beauty marketing specialists about the ways in which their brands work with influencers in an online survey.

A key finding was that brands’ investments in digital beauty influencer personalities is paying off – every £1 spent on beauty influencers in 2017 got an average ROI (return on investment) of £8.81, according to the report.

However, 33% of respondents said that their top reason for working with influencers is to build brand awareness rather than to drive direct sales, with 82% now relying on social media engagement figures as a strong measure of success.

A further 33% have been working with influencers for more than five years, and over that period have seen YouTube fall out of favour as the most successful platform for influencer partnerships in monetisation terms.

The report found that Instagram is now the channel of choice for 78% of the beauty industry in 2018 and is the best for monetisation, largely (57%) because an influencer’s audience engages the most on this channel – Instagram has an average engagement rate of 3.21% compared to an average of 1.5% across other social platforms, according to a separate study cited in the report.

Just 7% of respondents maintained that YouTube was still the channel that worked best for them. But regardless of the channel of choice, “female niche” (those who promote an organic or gluten-free lifestyle, for example) and “mid-tier” (with 100k-1m followers) digital influencers are in highest demand.

Beauty marketing specialists who answered the survey said this was because these personalities have few pre-existing commercial ties and are known for being authentic with their messages through everything they do. Authenticity is an important factor for brands when choosing who they work with now.

73% said Generation Z are pushing beauty companies to be more transparent and ethical, and 53% say this group has already been the biggest driver of change in business over past couple of years, as these digital-born consumers have a new set of expectations whereby they don’t want to be sold to in the traditional sense, but rather have a desire to be part of the creative process when working with or buying from brands.