Calling all micro-influencers: Maybelline New York is seeking the next big YouTube stars.
The L’Oréal-owned brand has teamed with one of the video platform’s most-watched beauty influencers — Nikkie de Jager, 7.4 million subscribers and some 580 million views to date — for its latest influencer play, a YouTube series for Maybelline’s channel.
The 10-episode series, called “I Makeup Like This” and hosted by de Jager, will begin on Oct. 2, preceded by an Instagram contest for micro-influencers, meant to secure 10 guest hosts — one per episode. Once selected, the chosen micro-influencers will be flown to New York to film an episode of the series — each one centers on a surprise makeup challenge based on a beauty look that is trending on social media.
“We know consumers are going to YouTube for tips and tricks, obviously,” said Amy Whang, senior vice president of marketing at Maybelline. Whang joined Maybelline in March, shortly after Ikdeep Singh took over David Greenberg’s role as president of Maybelline, Essie and Garnier. A L’Oréal veteran, this is Whang’s second time working for the brand. “Being a mass brand, you have your [products] in store, but you don’t have a beauty associate to communicate to the consumer on education.”
For Maybelline, the YouTube series will be key in providing that missing link between shoppers and education in the drugstore aisle.
“It’s about being able to connect with the consumer — the number-one objective is to provide her with educational content,” said Whang of the YouTube series. “Our consumer wants to see how these influencers are creating their own looks — how they’re hacking it. You just can’t communicate that in a print ad or on the shelf — for us [YouTube is] the best channel to really drive education.”
Said de Jager: “When Maybelline approached me, I immediately fell in love with the concept….I am a firm believer in supporting the next generation of beauty stars.”
Aside from de Jager’s massive following, the fact that Maybelline is promoting micro-influencers is the most compelling aspect of the series, said Conor Begley, president and cofounder of Tribe Dynamics. “The vast majority of [beauty influencers] are of the smaller variety — under 100,000 followers,” he said. “They’re actually a very tightly knit community, and what one brand does for you gets communicated very quickly, and it engenders an incredible amount of loyalty.”
Begley noted that similar competitions — such as fellow L’Oréal brand NYX Professional Makeup’s NYX Face Awards — have garnered exponential growth in followers for contest winners. “The real magic is if [Maybelline] really helps accelerate the careers of some of these micro-influencers — someone who started with 5,000 followers can end up with 150,000,” Begley said. In that case, “the likelihood of talking about Maybelline in the future or using it in their next tutorial might go up 20 to 30 percent.”
This is certainly not the first time Maybelline has tapped into influencer marketing — just last week, the brand announced a product collaboration with Shayla Mitchell of @makeupshayla. The YouTube series is just the latest in a series of initiatives that have sent the brand’s earned media value skyrocketing. According to Tribe Dynamics, from January to June of this year, Maybelline generated $196 million EMV, up 94 percent compared with the same six-month time period last year.
A high EMV is something few of Maybelline’s peers in the drugstore channel have been able to attain. In the latest Tribe Dynamics report, Maybelline was one of only two brands sold in the drugstore channel — the second was NYX — to break into the top 10 list of top EMV generators in beauty. On average, Maybelline’s top EMV-driving ambassadors mentioned the brand on social media a total of 167 times each between January and June — that’s almost one mention a day per influencer.
Those mentions are largely unpaid, said Begley, and are likely due to a product being used in a tutorial or tagged in a post — or suggested as an alternative to a prestige product being used.
Being associated with prestige products could be where other drugstore brands are missing out. “Where you get excluded from [those] social media conversations is when you’re not seen as an alternative to prestige,” Begley said.
Maybelline has spent the past few years focusing on a highly trend-driven product assortment inspired by social media and the prestige market.
Whang sees the YouTube series as an opportunity to further promote new products like the Master Chrome highlighter, a summer launch centered on the current molten, high-shine metallic trend, and Master Precise Ink, a line of metallic and glitter eyeliners. She noted that Maybelline is putting forth a sizable digital campaign for Master Precise Ink this fall.
“Nikkie loves eyeliner — it’s her one thing she’s obsessed with — and we’ll be able to showcase [the digital campaign] in a big way [via the YouTube series],” Whang said. “Consumers can sit [watching YouTube] for hours and hours, and we want to make sure we’re there. It’s a way for us to educate the consumer in her own language.”