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After analyzing 491 million hair-care searches over a one-year period, researchers at search intelligence firm Captify and project partner Publicis Media found some startling data along with insights that can help brands better leverage consumer trends.

The report, “Coming Clean,” found that influencers “are one of the biggest trends shaking up the beauty industry, with searches increasing 55.3 percent year-on-year.”

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“Given the need for better transparency around influencer marketing, search intelligence can dig deeper into the true authenticity of influencers for brands,” authors of the report said. “For example, 54 percent of hair-care searches around influencers in 2018 were associated with Jen Atkin, celebrity hairstylist and owner of cult hair-care brand Ouai.”

Ouai x Summer Fridays kit for hair and skin care.  Courtesy Image

Researchers at Captify said influencer marketing engagement “has proven popular for brands and audiences alike, but brands need to be careful.” They said when brands don’t “curate the right association, audiences won’t have a positive reaction to your campaign.” The authors of the report said the strategy tends to work well for direct-to-consumer brands that have “niche audiences, but big brands with a mass following need to remember that one face won’t resonate with their whole audience.”

Other revelations gleaned from the study included identifying Watermans as a disruptor brand. It has the highest volume of searches “across 100 global hair-care brands with 8.6 percent share of search, beating legacy brands and household names, including Pantene and Garnier,” researchers said in the report.

There were also some counterintuitive results from the analysis. For example, researchers said that despite hair-care brands “investing in sponsorship of popular calendar events, big moments such as London Fashion Week and festivals actually resulted in a decrease in hair-care searches.”

But overall, events tended to drive searches. “Film/music events and seasonal changes are the driving force for consumer interest around hair care, with the 2018 Oscars sparking a dramatic 214.3 percent increase in searches,” the company said.

Lupita Nyong'o, Oscars 2018

Lupita Nyong’o at the 2018 Academy Awards.  Andrew H. Walker/WWD/REX/Shutterstock

And in regard to how they search, desktop was the highest with 54.9 percent of all hair-care searches. “Brands must [adopt] a truly always-on strategy to be able to leverage each platform on the most effective days for engagement,” the researcher said.

Anand Siddiqui, global vice president of insight and analytics at Captify, told WWD that with “more and more direct-to-consumer brands disrupting the marketplace and essentially transforming retail, big brands are being forced into evolving the way they interact with audiences. Consumer demand for personalization has rendered the ‘one-to-many’ model that big CPG brands have traditionally adopted ineffective, transitioning into a time of true ‘one-to-one’ relationships between brand and consumer.”

Siddiqui hopes the report can help inform how brands bring products to market. “The insights in the report prove that though the model is shifting and despite fickle consumer behavior, the big legacy brands are still very much in the consideration set,” Siddiqui explained. “In fact, those that take a page out of the DTC playbook, integrating omnichannel strategies with their audiences sitting right at the center, will be in a better position than ever before as they reconsider their messaging and how they take new products to market. As new tactics and strategies continue to influence the marketing landscape, big brands need to remain flexible and ready to pivot.”

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