Dash Hudson

Social media is the first point of contact for many beauty consumers today.

According to research by Dash Hudson presented during Beauty Inc @20, Instagram has become one of the most powerful tools in informing purchase decisions with 81 percent of consumers discovering new products on the social media platform and 80 percent of consumers using Instagram to make purchase decisions ­— perhaps unsurprising since data also revealed the average adult in the U.S. spends 82 minutes on social networks daily and the average U.S. teen spends a reported 12 hours using social media each week.

“Consumers have been spending more time on their phones in the past year, and, for better or worse, there’s been a 61 percent increase in social media usage across platforms as compared to the typical average since the beginning of the pandemic,” said Marie La France, vice president of strategy at Dash Hudson. “These habits that we’ve formed have changed the way we now discover and buy products. The majority of consumer culture and activity is playing out online and social media, while an important avenue to reach and build relationships with consumers prior to the pandemic, has now become an essential driver of business.”

Moreover, France said, Instagram, TikTok and Pinterest have become the new storefront, making it crucial for brands to harness every social media channel.

Notably, while all are labeled as social media channels, France said it is crucial to recognize each channel’s unique qualities. Each has its own key elements and opportunities, she said, and it is important for a brand to play into those strengths. To illustrate, France explained the key differences between Instagram and TikTok both in audience demographics and accepted messaging.

“[Instagram] is the key channel where consumers not only expect but welcome marketing for brands,” France said. “We know that Instagram is a safe space to put social commerce at the forefront, there’s no reason to be afraid to sell there. Ninety percent of people follow a business on Instagram, so Shops has been a natural fit for brands that want to capitalize on purchase read audiences.”

In contrast to Instagram, which has a high concentration of Millennial users, TikTok’s audience has a high representation of Gen Z users. Though, while France noted Gen Z’s sensitivity to marketing messaging, 52 percent of users are discovering brands on the platform without commerce being at the forefront of the platform.

“User behavior indicates that [when using TikTok] consumers want to be entertained,” France said. “Playing to the strength of this channel, brands must think about creatively engaging their audience to build brand awareness. The key on TikTok is to approach it with authenticity and really be strategic and partner with creators that align with your brand and understand the space.”

Through its software, Dash Hudson enables brands, including Puig, Unilever, Estée Lauder and Sephora, to close the loop on all key visual marketing channels by focusing on the performance of photos and videos. The software empowers brands to predict the performance of photos and videos, analyze trends and accelerate growth across key visual marketing and e-commerce channels.

Put simply, France said, as brands work to effectively reach consumers across all channels, “having access to this kind of technology is like having your consumer in the room with you when you’re making strategic decisions, but in a way that doesn’t compromise the brand visions. The brand-specific algorithm knows what performs for your unique visual identity.”