As our society is becoming increasingly digitalised, a vast majority of the younger population either subscribe to a channel on YouTube or follow one or more social media celebrities. This development has created a new battlefield for brands and companies in which they fight to win the attention and in turn, gain the economic profit that the consumer ultimately represents. Especially in the beauty industry using social media celebrities to influence the consumer has become increasingly popular with many brands due to its effectiveness. This trend consequently puts the old relation and power structure between brand and consumer out of order, but with whom does the power lie then?
A significant part of the power now lies with the beauty influencers. They are a profitable media for the brands because they are liked and trusted by their followers, qualities that conventional advertisements from the beauty industry and the brand itself tend to lack in the eyes of the consumer. This gives the beauty influencers power to the brand and the consumer, as the influencers choose which brands and products they are willing to promote and how they want to do it. Consequently, the brands might not be able to get the wanted products endorsed or have them promoted as they desire. Using influencers minimises the brand’s control over how it is portrayed, and its image can be significantly affected by miscommunication or unfortunate incidents caused by the influencer. As for the consumer we tend to idolise the influencer while feeling they are our friend at the same time which makes it easy to influence us as we trust them almost blindly. This relation between influencer and consumer means that we are willing to accept more drivel from the brand that we want to take. And if the influencer started collaborating with a different brand, we would be more inclined to follow that example than to question it. In these cases, we grant a great deal of power to the influencer. So even though many beauty influencers are more truthful than the brand about the products, we as consumers have to realise that they are doing it to earn a living and not for our good.
One of the factors that contribute to the credibility of the beauty influencers, I believe, is the format and the platform that the influencers use. When scrolling down any social media, it is almost impossible not to come across a makeup tutorial or another type of beauty influencer post. This enforces the feeling of the influencer being your friend as social media are more informal and many people use them to follow and share everyday life with friends. We feel that social media are our platforms, it is increasingly becoming the way we communicate with our friends and even relatives; through likes and comments instead of phone calls and text messages. The left side of our brain knows that we are exposed to a lot of advertisements and influencer posts when we are using social media, but our Sunday-laziness somehow seems to overrule that logic when we prove ourselves to influencer post after influencer post.
Another factor that plays an important role when it comes to influencers reliability is the apparent transparency that the video appearances and posts give, alongside the dialogue that arises between the beauty influencer and the consumer. As I see it, the conversation is one of the best things about influencers in the beauty industry as it enables the consumer to take power. In this way the influencers can operate as a mediator between the consumer and the brand by passing on popular requests from the consumers to the brand, giving the influencers the power to create a two-way communication as opposed to conventional advertising and one-way communication from brand to the consumer.
Furthermore, influencers in the beauty industry have the power to create trends and help shift consumer values. As for now, the society is generally moving towards a more sustainable mindset. So if the influencer you follow make a switch to an organic mascara or a more sustainable foundation you are more likely to follow that example. A clear evident on influencers in the beauty industry have the power to influence other areas in the consumers’ life.
So, what does all this mean? For the brands, it is crucial to recruit reliable, professional and loyal influencers to convey the desired identity and maintain a good image. For the consumers, it is essential that we increase our awareness and adopt a more critical approach towards the influencers. We can not trust influencers blindly and let them lead us in whichever direction the power lies with them. We need to start by questioning what they say and have a more critical approach towards them so that we can gain control in this relation.