TikTok is a dominating force in the beauty landscape. In September 2021, the short-form app hit one billion users, with beauty being one of its biggest communities thanks to users’ fascination with makeup transformations, skincare tutorials, hacks and advice. Not only does the app shape current beauty trends but our shopping habits too.
With a staggering 74 billion views on the #beauty tag alone, it is a challenging space to navigate for businesses new to its world. TikTokers’ product reviews can make or break a company and they wield this power thinking not about how they can attract brands for partnerships, but how they can deliver the most accurate information to their trusting followers. Beauty on TikTok is less about perfection and more about entertainment, creativity and honesty.
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In this report, we’ll be exploring the influencers who are synonymous with the beauty community and how brands can launch successful TikTok campaigns to drive engagement, grow their audiences, increase sales and refresh their brand image.
You may be thinking this is exactly what you use Instagram for, but according to those running successful beauty TikTok campaigns everyday, there is no comparison between the two platforms. And to be at the forefront, you have to be on the latter.
Why should a beauty brand use TikTok?
Freya Sheard, campaign director for influencer marketing and creative agency The Fifth, credits the dynamic nature of TikTok videos and the obsessed creators as being the two things that make it so trailblazing. “They’re always on it creating content and absorbing other people’s content, whereas on Reels it feels much more like its recycling trends from TikTok that perhaps aren’t as relevant anymore,” she said.
If you’re looking for the next trending beauty product, look no further than the app. Need an example? Take a peek at the #heatlesscurls tag. Meanwhile, for a mini facelift, there’s #concealerhack. One-minute make-up challenges are widespread, as are ASMR-style tutorials and a wealth of unfiltered product reviews.
The pandemic changed beauty consumers
Antonia Baildam, head of brand partnerships for beauty at TikTok revealed the breadth of the beauty community on the platform, noting there are numerous engaged communities driving an ever-evolving hub-bub of niche conversations. “It isn’t just people passively watching beauty content – users are actively participating by hyping their favourite products, sharing tips and giving product recommendations to their fellow beauty fans,” she said. “War Paint for Men is a good example of a beauty brand that has challenged gender norms around beauty and engaged with their target audience in new ways and on their own terms.”
The platform is designed to encourage collaboration and conversation, and can also offer a real-time insight into what consumers want. And it’s a goldmine – according to the NPD Group, beauty ecommerce in 2020 was worth over £989 Million, up 50% from 2019. There was a mass digital migration as bricks and mortar stores were forced to close during the pandemic. “This, coupled with brands and retailers continuously improving their online consumer journey means that purchasing online will continue to be an extremely prevalent channel for consumers to purchase beauty going forward,” an NPD Group spokesperson said.
TikTok is creator-led and influencers love it
For businesses, there’s no shortage of influencers producing sponsored content to mark new launches and strengthen brands’ narratives via unfiltered reviews and live product testing. For example, New Jersey’s Mikayla Jane Nogueira has built a fanbase of 9.3 million thanks to her unapologetically honest videos.
Closer to home, Danielle Marcan is a go-to in the UK if you’re looking for flawless transition makeover videos and Abby Roberts has a thriving audience of 17 million watching her adopt The Joker-, Harley Quinn- and Doja Cat-inspired looks. Ling Khac Tang recreates viral beauty trends and Ryley Isaac embraces the birthmark on her face as part of her glamorous makeup videos.
However, it’s not just TikTokers with millions of followers who entertain the platform’s enormous beauty fanbase. There is a vast community of micro influencers with high engagement rates and loyal followings too. Emily Camm – a 22-year-old content creator whose signature style is a mix of maximalist graphic eyeliner and bold eyeshadow blend – has almost 9,000 followers and told CORQ why it’s such a “super fun” place to be. “You are able to use trending sounds to really get your content out there and connect with creators who do a similar thing,” she said.
Similarly, Tallulah Scarlett Sitwell, a UK content creator with 151,000 followers, loves the creative freedom of TikTok. “I also enjoy being able to share my process in some of my videos because it gives a different aspect of the art and let’s people see the hard work that goes into creating content like that,” she said.
Beauty brands thriving on TikTok
High street brands such as Rimmel London, Revolution Beauty, Maybelline and L’Oreal have huge consumer reach on the platform reflecting the fact there’s an insatiable appetite for budget-friendly products, dupes of luxury counterparts and tips on how to save money in your beauty routine.
Take CeraVe. The affordable US-based skincare brand owned by L’Oreal is a particularly potent example of how success on TikTok can earn a beauty brand cult status. As users flocked to the app during the first lockdown of 2020, organic product reviews of its cleansers grew. Then it got the stamp of approval from Hyram Yarbro – one of the most influential beauty creators on the platform – and suddenly it was the brand synonymous with Gen Z skincare. As for Yarbro, he went on to work with CeraVe to produce regular content about its products.
But what if you’re joining the party in 2022? Is it harder for a brand to achieve CeraVe levels of adoration? Well, it is certainly a more crowded place, meaning competition for consumers’ attention makes gaining visibility a greater challenge – but here’s a top tip. The Fifth’s Sheard highlighted that brands supplying their own audio has been proven to deliver success, particularly for Fenty Beauty. This gave influencers creative free rein and users immediately recognised Rihanna’s voice which created traction and drove engagement, even if they weren’t familiar with Fenty products. Audio matters on TikTok and making it easy for creators to access and participate in your campaign is crucial.
Meanwhile, CORQ has been supporting the TikTok campaigns of biggest beauty brands in the world since 2020 via influencer identification, strategy and trend forecasting. Our takeaways? TikTok influencer campaigns require scale and creators with a range of audience sizes to really make an impact on the platform. Macro influencers are key as they set the tone and brands that are taking the platform seriously are working with 500 to 1,000 creators every month. While payment via gifting is becoming unacceptable on Instagram, many beauty TikTokers will connect with brands willing to provide products if it helps them produce creative content that their audiences will love. Also, brands should keep campaign concepts fun, simple and immediately possible for users to replicate. The moment it gets too complicated or requires too much of users, it falls flat.
Can any of this drive revenue?
So, you’re convinced by the content, you like the influencers and you want to be a beauty brand that’s killing it on TikTok. But how does any of this drive actual sales? In 2021, the app rolled out TikTok Shopping, which Baildam describes as “a suite of solutions that empower brands and sellers to build their presence on TikTok and sell directly through their TikTok accounts”. It’s part of the company’s commitment to drive users from being entertained purveyors to motivated consumers who purchase products through the app. She cites Elf Cosmetics sending a music track into the Spotify charts, and L’Oréal Elvive’s #WonderWaterWhip racking up over four billion views as examples of how the beauty industry benefits from increased exposure on TikTok.
As for the future, Baildam believes engaging with authentic conversations on the platform is a must for every beauty brand. “TikTok is helping businesses turn their fans into loyal brand advocates,” she said. “Looking at the bigger picture, the most valuable aspect for beauty brands is the opportunity it gives them to be discovered by TikTok’s incredible beauty community.”
A dedicated user base with influencers who really want to be on the platform. The birthplace of trends which are shaping consumers’ decisions and what’s happening on competitor platforms. A fresh way to connect with beauty lovers who are deeply inspired by short-form content and value creativity. TikTok has proven itself to be an asset to the beauty industry – the only question is, will 2022 be the year it transforms your business?
By Louise Whitbread, editor of CORQ. Picture credit: Ling Khac Tang.
NEED TO SMASH IT ON TIKTOK IN 2022?
CORQ works with the biggest beauty brands on TikTok and globally to find the most exciting influencer talent, track and analyse data and devise digital strategy. Find out more by emailing our head of beauty Arabella Johnson on firstname.lastname@example.org.