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Beauty’s Battle for Views: Brands vs. Vloggers

Beauty brands are outnumbered by vloggers in beauty category searches by 14 to 1.

Beauty brands need to step up their game on YouTube.

While the volume for search term “Beauty Products” on YouTube now yields the same amount of results it does on Google, brands are at a serious disadvantage on the video platform, according to a study released by digital research firm L2 this week, Beauty: YouTube Search.

On YouTube specifically, beauty brands are outnumbered by vloggers in beauty category searches by 14 to 1.

Giulia Prati, associate director, beauty, at L2 said it’s surprising how few brands actually appear in visibility in beauty-related searches on the platform.

“It’s about two percent of first page results across the categories we looked at,” Prati said, noting that research focused on organic visibility, “which requires more thought and skill than putting money behind an ad arbitrarily.”

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She cited Makeup Geek and ROC as the brands with top visibility in skin care searches, and the Estée Lauder-owned I Love Makeup Channel as the top result for color cosmetic-related searches. The latter has over 550,000 subscribers and produces content that supports the Lauder portfolio, including Bobbi Brown, Clinique, MAC Cosmetics, Aveda, Bumble & bumble and Smashbox. In fact, it’s the only branded property that even comes up when searching for color cosmetics on YouTube.

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“It’s hard to break into because there are so many vloggers in that space — compared to, say, fragrance, and to a lesser extent, skin care,” Prati said. “With color and skin care there is a wide array of influencers who have risen to prominence and are very visible…[but] fragrance, being a less visual category…[is] less prone to the video format. There are very few influencers [here].”

Save for Jeremy Fragrance, the only vlogger L2 called out for gaining significant visibility in the space. He appears on over 40 percent of key words that L2 studied.

However, there is a downside. While he has managed to outperform nearly every brand in terms of organic YouTube visibility, Jeremy Fragrance links to Amazon most frequently. Prati said that 78 percent of these links direct viewers to product pages that are unofficially distributing on Amazon, or third-party sellers.

“The brands aren’t able to control how they appear and what those product pages look like, so it’s really amplifying a big problem fragrance brands have on Amazon. It amplifies the gray market,” Prati explained.

But overall, fragrance brands are better equipped to go toe to toe with influencers than any other category in beauty.

This could be due to how brands are leveraging their existing content to become more visible to consumers on YouTube. L2 looked at Dior specifically, which took a traditional TV ad for its Sauvage fragrance and “sliced and diced” it to create bite sized pieces of video — from multiple teasers to director’s cuts — to extend shelf life.

Aime Arroyo, an L2 research associate, beauty, said that Dior’s efforts with the Sauvage videos garnered 22 times the amount of organic views, on average, the brand typically receives when posting a video on the platform.

“This is an opportunity that fragrance has over other categories on YouTube because the audience has a genuine interest in fragrance ads. They have high profusion value, and in this case feature Johnny Depp,” Prati said. “Consumers are seeking these out more frequently than ads for color cosmetics and skin care, which don’t have that same clout and intrigue.”