Makeup and cosmetics have long been popular among youngsters; however, it is now even more evident as the industry sees increased sales and good demand online and in stores while other retailers face a harsh selling environment.
A recent article in the New York Times said that young shoppers were a driving force behind the cosmetics industry boom. Millennials, who are now seeking to be “always camera-ready,” are buying and using 25 per cent more cosmetics than they did two years ago and significantly much more than Baby Boomers.
This boom in the cosmetics sector comes in an environment where other retailers see a drop in sales. Companies like Ulta Beauty and Sephora have increased revenues and new store openings. The New York Times article added that the cosmetics industry’s growth is probably understated since most estimates fail to capture sales at online retailers like Amazon.
Newer brands are making their presence felt too. The 20-year-old model and reality TV celebrity Kylie Jenner’s Kylie Cosmetics have made more than US$420 million in sales in just 18 months without any traditional advertising. The products gain popularity on Instagram and other social media. Popstar Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty has seen many products going out of stock due to increased demand.
Cosmetic companies have been quick to cash in on new-age advertising by using social media celebrities. Makeup and skincare companies have seen products fly off shelves after being promoted by popular YouTube influencers and Instagram celebrities. Brands are now collaborating with millennial stars with a large following to reach their target audience without relying on traditional advertising directly.
According to experts, more advertising dollars are spent on Youtube and Instagram celebrities than print advertising. Celebrity influencers with a large following online are taken on trips to exotic locations and sent new products. They, in turn, pass on the message to their subscribers, who don’t hesitate to buy the latest makeup and skincare recommended by their favourite Youtuber or Instagram personality.
It is not just the new launches that are receiving the attention of millennials online. Even products that have been around for a while see a jump in sales after being endorsed by social media celebrities and beauty gurus.
Estée Lauder’s Double Wear foundation, a product launched 30 years ago, is experiencing double-digit growth rates, Jane Hertzmark Hudis, group president at Estée Lauder, said in the New York Times article.
Companies rely on beauty bloggers to popularise their products even as subscribers learn new makeup techniques and ways to use them. While this is not a recent phenomenon, it is only recently that larger companies are using Youtubers and Instagram celebrities instead of traditional print and TV advertisements. Earlier, the smaller brands reached out to beauty gurus online to help popularise their products by including them in a beauty tutorial or makeup look video. More brands now realize the reach of the beauty gurus and the buying power of millennials.
It is not surprising that millennials are buying the products they see online. They spend a lot of time watching YouTube makeup tutorials and browsing content online. According to Pixability, a Boston-based company that tracks influencers and provides data to brands, global views of beauty videos on YouTube surged 60 per cent to 219 billion, with millennials making up 60 per cent of the beauty audience on social media site Facebook.
Using beauty bloggers and YouTubers also brings a certain risk element to the beauty companies since their content cannot be monitored strictly, and comments on posts can often be negative. However, most brands are willing to take the risk in the hope of the increased reach of their products.
However, some experts have said that millennials are tricky since their choices and priorities can change instantly. Instagram, where a lot of the makeup gets promoted, wasn’t something millennials used a few years ago.