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19 April 2022

#TikTokMadeMeBuyIt: why social commerce is the next big thing for beauty brands

Over the past decade, shopping has increasingly become a digital experience, with an estimated 2.14 billion consumers buying products and services online in 2021. With the growth of platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and, more recently, TikTok, the digital environment has become more and more social, changing not only how billions of people connect with one another across the world but also the ways in which they interact with brands and shop for products.  

Today, social commerce is a growing force: led by China, it is expected to become a $1.2 trillion market globally by 2025, according to Accenture, with more than half of US adults expected to make a purchase on social platforms in 2022 (Insider Intelligence). And it’s not simply about shopping: social has deeply transformed the entire customer journey. In a recent Bazaarvoice survey, three quarters of respondents said that social media platforms have influenced their shopping behavior and two thirds stated they turn to social media for inspiration; likewise, more than 60% said they shop when they come across something they are interested in mid-feed. 

Woman applying skincare product

Social commerce: changing the face of beauty brands 

The beauty industry has thrived in the social media landscape for years now. Thanks to the sector's strong visual component and quick adoption of tools such as influencer marketing and video content, brands have been able to engage effectively with potential customers, using the channel for more interactive digital window shopping and product promoting.  

Now, with the rapid rise of social commerce tools, beauty has become the most shopped for product category on social media, according to Bazaarvoice. Brands can sell their products right there and then, mid-scroll on a feed, making the process from discovery to purchase seamless by removing the potential friction of having to change online environments. Whenever inspiration strikes, be it while watching a video tutorial or looking at a product spread, consumers can act on it instantly, without having to go on a search engine or a marketplace. 

More than half of shoppers say that they would more likely buy a product from a social media post if they could click on it and get the information instantly, according to Bazaarvoice, making it clear that consumer appetite for seamlessness and convenience is on the rise. Likewise, the rise of livestream shopping not only points in this direction but also highlights the need for real engagement that only social, as opposed to ecommerce, can offer.

All these things only mean that the opportunity for the beauty sector is huge, and brands are increasingly aware of it. 

#TikTokMadeMeBuyIt: how beauty brands are leveraging the power of social media 

While social shopping features have been available for a few years on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, the much newer TikTok has managed to become essential in attracting not only beauty consumers looking for recommendations and inspiration but also beauty brands. Among 143 of the world’s top global beauty brands, 15% had an official TikTok account in April 2020, up from just 5% six months prior (Glossy)

Thanks to its ‘For You’ page, which recommends content to users based on their activity on the platform, TikTok has become a key driver of purchase intent and product discovery. According to Bazaarvoice, it also has one of the most engaged user bases when it comes to shopping, with more than 20% of social shoppers saying they purchased goods on the app ‘all the time’. 

Posts on TikTok not only turn into incredibly viral sensations, racking up hundreds of millions of views, but also translate into sales — both online and offline. For instance, Clinique’s Black Honey Almost Lipstick, a product that originally came out in 1971, was catapulted back to fame after being rediscovered on the app in 2021, leading to it being sold out in brick-and-mortar stores. By the end of August 2021, #BlackHoney had more than 11 million views. 

Beauty brands are already not only leveraging these explosions of viral fame but also pairing them with the social commerce tools different social media platforms offer to boost their sales. For example, L’Oréal recently partnered with TikTok to sell curated gift boxes with products from their different brands directly from the app’s TikTok Shop marketplace in the UK. The boxes are branded with the #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt hashtag — the first time TikTok has ever put its name on another brand’s product in this way. 

Beauty social commerce top tips 

If your beauty brand is dipping its toes into the social commerce world, follow the tips below to help your products go #viral and boost your sales on social:  

1. Create a positive, seamless and reliable consumer experience. Trust is the main barrier for consumers to shop on social. According to Accenture, concerns over their order not being protected or refunded and a lack of trust over the sellers or the authenticity of the products are the two things that consumers worry about the most when considering a social commerce buy. Hence, investing time and money to offer potential customers the assurances they need is key to gain their trust. Just like you would on your ecommerce website, make sure your refunds policy is clear and easily findable, offer accurate images and descriptions and make the entire shopping process as frictionless as possible. 

Skincare products on pink background

2. Focus on networking. Teaming up with the right influencers is critical. Consumers not only want to feel they are buying from reliable brands: they also want to feel confident that their purchase is right for them. Word of mouth, from friends, family or subject-matter specialists, has always been an essential part of traditional commerce. In the social shopping era, influencers play a central role in helping consumers discover products and decide on purchases by sharing their own experiences and opinions of a product they have tested themselves. Bazaarvoice’s social commerce survey revealed that 60% of respondents shopped from influencer recommendations, and over a third shopped from what they considered to be subject-matter experts, such as make-up artists and beauty consultants, as they trust them the most when it comes to sharing authentic and genuine content. However, not all influencers are created equal and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to beauty influencer marketing strategy. Make sure you carry out extensive research to see who fits your brand's identity best and partner with influencer marketing experts, such as THG Society, whose extensive network of influencers will help you find the right talent for your target audience. If your brand operates internationally, ensure you not only look for local influencers but also localize your offer. 

3. Leverage user-generated content (UGC). Social commerce is not only about platforms but about real people using real products. When consumers see others using and celebrating your product, it creates trust in your brand and offering, as well as a sense of community among consumers or followers of a brand. It might also be just what sways consumers considering a purchase. Bazaarvoice found that 53% of shoppers say that UGC, such as images from customers, gives them more confidence when completing a purchase than professional photography, so encouraging your followers to tag you on their posts and getting their permission to share their content and turn it into a shoppable post, for example, is crucial. Coming up with challenges, hashtags or simply sharing customer testimonials on your page are all good ideas as well. 

From providing influencer marketing solutions to ensuring your orders are fulfilled no matter where in the world your customers are shopping, at THG Ingenuity we’ve helped countless brands grow their digital operations and successfully engage with online audiences across the globe. Get in touch today to learn how we can support your brand’s journey.  

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