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YouTube Vloggers and Haul Girls Crush Big Beauty Industry Brands [Study]

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The Massive YouTube Beauty Ecosystem

Apparently, Michelle Phan isn't the only YouTube beauty guru who is radically transforming the beauty industry. She's just one of the best known YouTube vloggers (video bloggers), "haul girls", and other beauty content creators who are crushing big brands in the beauty industry.

According to Google research, 50 percent of all beauty shoppers watch a beauty video on YouTube while they are shopping for beauty products. But according to a new study by YouTube marketing company Pixability, these shoppers are bypassing major brands for product recommendations, instructional guidance, and social engagement from thousands of YouTube beauty personalities and vloggers who create YouTube beauty content focused on makeup, skincare, hair care, and nails.

Earlier today, Pixability released "Beauty on YouTube: How YouTube is Radically Transforming the Beauty Industry and What That Means for Brands," a comprehensive study on one of the most active and leading-edge industries in the digital video marketplace. For all their creative and advertising investments, major brands have only garnered only 3 percent of the 14.9 billion beauty-related video views on YouTube, according to the study.

Michelle PhanPixability identified and analyzed how 168 major beauty brands and 45,000 YouTube beauty-focused personalities manage, produce, and socialize more than 877,000 hair care, skin care, makeup, and nail videos. And their report highlights striking differences between those manufacturing products and those manufacturing videos about products. Just a handful of beauty brands are effectively incorporating YouTube into their web and commerce initiatives, while only a few are successfully working with YouTube's independent beauty personalities.

"Understanding the important role of video in the beauty industry is a given, so we had the foresight to fully integrate YouTube into our marketing several years back and it paid off," Cory Pulice, VP Ecommerce for e.l.f. Cosmetics, said in a press release. "Creating informative and instructional videos for our premium cosmetic and makeup products is only part of the equation. Genuinely engaging with our passionate YouTube community is the other part, and that helps drive our business."

Pixability's beauty study uses more data than any other previously conducted analysis on the digital video marketplace for the beauty industry, and delivers both critical market insights and important prescriptive measures for brands and beauty content producers. Some of the report's key findings include:

  • Teenagers challenge brands and agencies. Multi-billion dollar beauty corporations with massive ad budgets and high-end creative agencies are getting beat on YouTube by teenage girls producing content in their bedrooms. YouTube vloggers, haul girls, and other beauty content creators control 97 percent of conversations around beauty topics and related brands on YouTube.
  • YouTube emerges as a lifestyle utility. People watch non-branded YouTube tutorials in the morning and in the evening on the East and West Coast as they prepare for work and then a night out. Non-branded beauty tutorial content shows significant YouTube search spikes at specific times of day typically associated with applying makeup and doing hair. Comparatively, beauty brand video searches and views on YouTube, however, remain flat regardless of time of day.
  • A television mentality doesn't work on YouTube. Brands and their agencies continue to suffer from a "television" mentality on YouTube as they deliver content that's out of step with the digital audience and miss the enormous opportunities for engagement, awareness, and commercialization. Repurposed television commercials published to YouTube generally underperform both on views and with audience engagement. YouTube's top 25 beauty vloggers receive 2,600 percent more comments on their made-for-YouTube content on average than beauty brand channels' content.
  • Beauty brands need to create a wider variety of YouTube content – and more of it. YouTube's top beauty vloggers have 10x more videos on their channels than beauty brands. Top beauty vloggers publish new YouTube content 7x more frequently than beauty brands. Beauty brands are underinvesting in YouTube's popular long-format beauty tutorials and seasonal events, and are overinvesting in publishing less popular commercials. In YouTube's top quartile of beauty brands, video lengths vary 5x more than the bottom quartile.
  • Beauty brands aren't getting found on YouTube. Beauty brands show up only 2.5 percent of the time in YouTube search results for popular beauty keywords. YouTube's top beauty-brand quartile uses 7x more playlists and 170 percent more metadata tags than the bottom quartile of beauty brands to ensure video content is discoverable on YouTube.

"The data in this study highlights the tipping point for share-of-voice for the beauty business," said Rob Ciampa, CMO of Pixability. "More importantly, these YouTube dynamics will have a profound effect on how beauty brands and their agencies market and advertise." "Brands that mistakenly treat YouTube as a quasi-television station should not be surprised by dismal ROI," he added. "Those that embrace YouTube as a critical digital marketing and communication medium, however, will see outstanding results. Pixability's analysis of the beauty industry on YouTube backs that up."

Pixability will present additional details of the study at WWD Digital Forum: Beauty Edition on Feb. 11 in New York City. The company will also host a free live webinar on both the study and the beauty industry on YouTube on February 26. Registration details can be found on Pixability's website.

Although Pixability's beauty study uses more data than any other previously conducted analysis on the digital video marketplace for the beauty industry, its findings shouldn't come as a total surprise for long-time Search Engine Watch readers. Back in August 2010, SEW featured an interview with Jordan Blum of Beautychoice.com. He discussed Beautychoice.com's outreach to the top YouTube channels in the beauty tips category. Beautychoice.com gives products to professional makeup artists like Michelle Phan, who then link back to beautychoice.com.

According to Blum, the results were spectacular. What he called "product placement on steroids" had generated "millions of dollars" in product sales for Beautychoice.com.

In case you think this is too good to be true, consider this: Michelle Phan's "Lady GaGa Poker Face Tutorial" has more than 34 million views and the Michelle Phan channel on YouTube has almost 862 million views and over 5.7 million subscribers, according to VidStatsX.


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