Consumer preferences towards influencer marketing in the beauty industry on instagram and youtube platforms (comparative analysis)
Bogdan Gregor1, Aneta Olejniczak2*
1Chair of Marketing Research, Department of Marketing, Faculty of Management, University of Lodz,
Jana Matejki 22/26 Street, 90-237, Lodz, Poland
2Chair of Fundamentals of Marketing, Department of Marketing, Faculty of Management,
University of Lodz, Jana Matejki 22/26 Street, 90-237, Lodz, Poland
1 ORCID: 0000-0003-1681-2073
2* E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The purpose of this article is to compare consumers’ preferences towards activities and content, published by beauty influencers, on Instagram and YouTube platforms. The motive behind embarking on this topic is to address the research gaps in the available literature and studies on this subject. Previous research works mainly concentrated on markets other than Polish or addressed topics in other contexts. To achieve the purpose of the paper, a study was conducted using a survey technique supported by an online questionnaire, on a sample of 146 individuals who use social media platforms. The survey results reveal that users in the beauty category are most likely to watch product reviews on both Instagram and YouTube platforms. Moreover, favourite products in the beauty category for Instagram users are facial care products, and for YouTube viewers, are makeup cosmetics.
MINIB, 2023, Vol. 49, Issue 3
Published 15 September 2023
Consumer preferences towards influencer marketing in the beauty industry on instagram and youtube platforms (comparative analysis)
Social media is a phenomenon that has modified the ways people around the world interact and communicate (Edosomwan et al., 2011). More than half of the world’s population (59.4%) use social media, making a total of 4.76 billion users, while in Poland it is 66,3% of the total — 27.5 million residents (DataReportal, 2023).
What has made social media so popular among users is convenience, enjoyment and access to information (Chai & Kim, 2012). Social networking sites (SNS), such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc., are an integral part of social media and one of the fastest-growing uses of the Internet today (Omar et al., 2014). Society uses social networks for entertainment, to create and maintain relationships, to connect with others with similar interests or hobbies, or to fill free time (Marino et al., 2016; Ryan et al., 2016). Nowadays, in many cases, social media are replacing traditional forms of communication such as calling or e-mailing (Sigurdsson et al., 2021). The data also show that social media are engaging users around the world, who spend an average of 2 hr and 31 min a day, while for Polish residents, it is 2 hr and 2 min (DataReportal, 2023). Social media users use their favourite platforms because they want to stay in touch with relatives and friends, fill their free time, read news, find interesting content and be up to date. Alongside these reasons, they indicate a desire to find shopping inspiration or just to make purchases (DataReportal, 2023). One of the tools used to respond to users’ purchasing needs is influencer marketing-an extremely popular type of advertising that uses an opinion leader-an influencer. It was chosen to concentrate on this form because 66% of consumers say they trust shopping recommendations from family, friends or influencers. At the same time, only 33% trust brand recommendations (Celestino, 2023).
Moreover, it is decided to focus on the beauty industry, because beautyrelated content is one of the biggest and fast-growing industries across all social media platforms (Van Kessel et al., 2019). Also, an analysis was performed on two-of the most relevant-social media platforms for the beauty field:
- YouTube, because according to the data, beauty-related videos (about makeup and cosmetics) are the most popular content category for females on YouTube (Petrov, 2023).
- Instagram, because there is the second largest number of beauty influencers on this platform (after those addressing lifestyle topics; Statista, 2021). Moreover, Instagram is one of the fastest-growing platforms with the highest engagement from social media users (Phua et al., 2017).
Furthermore, on both Instagram and YouTube, ‘makeup’ is the most used hashtag, which also indicates a huge interest in beauty topics (Geyser, 2022). Also, Instagram and YouTube are the most common combination of platforms for beauty influencers. The majority of beauty influencers are active on both platforms (Industry Report — Beauty Brands, n.d.). Taking into consideration, the aforementioned information and the literature review, the objective of the article was formulated, which is to compare consumers’ preferences towards activities and content, published by beauty influencers on Instagram and YouTube platforms.
To achieve the objective, the paper was based on primary and secondary sources. The former was obtained through an empirical study, using a survey method, of a sample of 146 individuals. The latter included a review of scientific articles from the SCOPUS database, industry reports and articles.
Influencer marketing is a form of marketing that allows brands to have commercial partnerships with selected social media influencers, thereby addressing the influencer’s community and the collaborating brand’s content (Lou & Yuan, 2019). Influencer marketing has become an indispensable part of digital marketing strategy that enables reaching out to target customers (Kim & Kim, 2021). According to the Influencer Marketing Hub report, the market of influencer marketing reached $16.4 billion in 2022, an increase of $2.6 billion (so 19%) compared with the previous year.
Influencers are individuals who are active on social media and influence their audience, fans, etc. through the content they add on social media platforms (Vodák et al., 2019). Beauty influencers focus specifically on creating beauty content and promoting beauty products or brands. Tran, Rosales and Copes define a beauty influencer as an aesthetic expert who provides teaching on topics of enhancement (life, health, style, etc.) and beautification practices (Tran et al., 2020).
Beauty influencers are eager to use social media platforms to share the content they create and to promote many of their own products as well as brands that collaborate with them. The beauty industry itself is worth a lot of money, and it is expected to increase from $420 billion in 2018 to $716.3 billion by 2025 (Roberts, 2022). The beauty industry on YouTube has grown, thanks to interesting personalities who engage their audiences. In 2019, there was an important event for the beauty industry when two popular beauty influencers, Jeffree Star and Shane Dawson, created a documentary series of beauty videos titled ‘The Beautiful World of Jeffree Star’, which achieved 152 million views on YouTube. The series resulted as the most significant customer engagement and the largest product launch in e-commerce history (Cowburn, 2022) with 2 million users queuing on the website to purchase the products promoted in the series (Weinlich & Semerádová, 2022). Another example is Instagram beauty influencer Kylie Jenner, who released her first product-lipsticks-called ‘LipKits’-and sold them out in minutes after announcing the launch on Instagram (Duboff, 2015). Kylie Jenner, who is the biggest beauty influencer in the world, is also in the second place (after Christiano Ronaldo) in terms of the number of followers on Instagram with 378 million (Instagram, January 2023).
Based on the mentioned examples, beauty topics are particularly popular and engaging for social media users. Researchers are also paying a lot of attention to the topic of social media (265,987 publications can be found in the SCOPUS database alone). However, considering the purpose of the article and the research gap, it was decided to narrow down the search results.
Table 1 presents a literature review based on the SCOPUS database. In order to search for relevant results, it was decided to use the following keywords: ((‘beauty influencer’ OR ‘beauty content’) AND ‘social media’). Initially, 18 results appeared. Then the results were reduced by branch criteria. Articles belonging to the categories of Business, Management and Accounting or Social Sciences were filtered out. Eventually, 14 articles were included for further analysis.
In the available literature, it is noticeable that the authors address the topic of influencer marketing in the beauty industry on social media in different contexts. Some researchers have concentrated on word-of-mouth marketing as a strategy for promoting brands (Fitriati et al., 2022; Yones & Muthaiyah, 2022), others as a potential determinant of SME resilience and competitiveness (Konstantopoulou et al., 2019). Some researchers concentrated on the influence of electronic word-of-mouth and perceived quality on purchase intention of beauty products (Rosara & Luthfia, 2020). Other papers focused on aspects of gender, such as exploring the topic of beauty in the context of plastic surgery for trans women (Zhang, 2022) or the level to which influencers show themselves in a sexualized manner in various roles (Devos et al., 2022). Previous studies have also examined the impact of beauty content on purchase intentions (Pangaribuan et al., 2019). Others have examined the level of consumer engagement with products (Rutter et al., 2021) or the reasons why users follow influencers (Tran et al., 2022). There was also a concentration on how the attitudes of beauty influencers influence repeat purchase decisions (Ayuaspharalinda & Tanuwidjaja, 2021). The authors also focused on ethical topics, examining transparency while influencers disclose information about advertised products and brands (Lee et al., 2022).
Several articles did not concentrate on a specific platform at all. The studies were conducted in the context of social media in general (Ayuaspharalinda & Tanuwidjaja, 2021; Tran et al., 2022; Zhang, 2022). One article focused its considerations on TikTok platform (Yones & Muthaiyah, 2022). Others approached the research only in the context of Instagram (Devos et al., 2022; Fitriati et al., 2022; Konstantopoulou et al., 2019; Pangaribuan et al., 2019; Rutter et al., 2021) or only on YouTube (Bishop, 2019; Dekavalla, 2022; Lee et al., 2022; Rosara & Luthfia, 2020). However, they did not put both platforms in one study. The exception was the research of Sokolova and Kefi’s (2020) who focused on those two, previously mentioned platforms; however, the paper concentrates on examining the para-social interaction (PSI) that the audience creates with an influencer online and how this influences purchase decisions. To do this, the authors based their study on four beauty influencers who are popular in France. The survey considered not only beauty but also fashion influencers. Also, all the studies have been conducted in foreign markets, mostly in Indonesia (Ayuaspharalinda & Tanuwidjaja, 2021; Fitriati et al., 2022; Indrawati et al., 2022; Pangaribuan et al., 2019; Rosara & Luthfia, 2020).
The literature review helped to reveal that the Instagram and YouTube platforms have not been studied in terms of consumer preferences for the preferred beauty content shared by influencers and the product categories that they are most interested in. Moreover, neither the study focused on the Polish market and addressed the topic of the behaviour nor preferences of Polish consumers in terms of the beauty industry. This lack of information indicates a research gap, which prompted the authors, to conduct the following study.
To fulfil the objective of this paper, a research design was prepared according to the following research questions:
RQ1: What are consumers’ preferences for content, published by beauty influencers on Instagram and YouTube?
RQ2: What are the respondents’ preferences for beauty products recommended by beauty influencers on Instagram and YouTube?
RQ3: How do respondents perceive beauty influencers on Instagram and YouTube and how does it affect followers’ purchasing decisions?
The study was conducted using a diagnostic survey method, with a questionnaire as the research tool, hosted on Microsoft Forms and distributed via the Internet. The process of collecting responses lasted from December 2022 to January 2023. The selection of individuals for the survey sample was based on a purposive selection scheme, in which the categories were the use of social media, particularly the Instagram and YouTube platforms. A total of 151 questionnaires were collected; however, due to not meeting the criteria, 5 questionnaires were rejected. Thus, a total of 146 questionnaires were taken into further consideration. Responses were given anonymously.
The questionnaires were divided into three parts. The first part is general questions directed at active social media users. The second part involved questions related to the Instagram platform for respondents who declared that they use it, and a sub-category of this part-question related to beauty influencers on Instagram. Analogous to the previous one was the last part, concerning the YouTube platform and then the perception of beauty influencers.
Most of the participants in the survey were women (73.5%). The largest group are the respondents who were aged between 19 years old and 27 years old (76.8%), followed by young people between 12 years old and 18 years old (13.2%), then people who were aged between 28 years old and 42 years old (6.6%). The smallest group are the respondents who were aged between 43 years old and 57 years old (33%). In terms of occupational status, the survey mainly involved those declaring themselves to be university or school students — 91.4% and the rest were people who work. The sample was dominated by respondents who lived in large cities, with over 500,000 residents (536%). The others lived mainly in villages (172%) and mediumsized towns with a population between 50,001 and 200,000 (126%). The fewest number of respondents lived in small towns with a population of up to 50,000 residents (93%) and those who lived in large towns with a population between 150,001 and 500,000 residents (73%).
The first question, in the general part of the questionnaire, required to identify the one social media platform that respondents use most frequently. The largest group chose Instagram (36.4%), followed by TikTok (19.9%) and Facebook Messenger (19.2%). The others indicated YouTube (14.4%), Facebook (5.5%) and WhatsApp (1.4%) as their favourite platform. The rest chose the answer ‘other’, indicating Twitter, Telegram and Snapchat here (0.7% each of additional responses).
The second question asked respondents to estimate how much time they spend on average on social media per day. The average was 3 hr and 38 min (SD = 1.96).
The next question allowed respondents to indicate their three favourite social media topic categories. The study found that it was mainly lifestyle (39%), entertainment (38%) and beauty (32%).
The next question referred to the Instagram platform. Thus, only people who use it participated in this part (n = 136). Instagram users declare that they use Instagram an average of 12.8 times per day (SD = 17.77) and spend on average 1 hr and 42 min on the app each day (SD = 1.22).
About 87% said they follow influencers on Instagram. Those who do were asked if they follow beauty influencers. A total of 100 respondents declared that they follow beauty influencers on Instagram.
Respondents, who are active on YouTube, were asked the same questions as with Instagram. Only those who use YouTube answered questions about this app (n = 131). YouTube users say, they use the platform 4.6 times a day (SD = 5.33) and spend an average of 2 hr and 10 min on it daily (SD = 3.36). About 91.6% of respondents said they follow influencers on YouTube. Those 120 people who gave a positive answer were asked if they also follow beauty influencers on YouTube. About 84.1% answered affirmatively. Therefore, 102 people answered further questions about the YouTube platform.
Table 2 presents the preferred types of content published by beauty influencers on Instagram and YouTube. Respondents were asked to rank this content in the order from 1 (most favourite) to 10 (least favourite). They had the following types of content to choose from when ranking:
A – Tutorial videos
B – Product reviews
C – Shopping haul
D – Unboxing
E – Testing products of various brands
F – Comparison of the same products from different brands
G – Videos with invited guests
H – Review of the latest products
I – Promotional videos of own-brand products
J – Promotional videos about the products of the brands the influencer works with
Then a weighted mean value was calculated showing the degree of importance of each quantity, according to the respondents’ preferences.
The lower the value of the measure, the more the respondent prefers a particular type of content. The results are presented in Table 2.
Most respondents mainly prefer to view product reviews on Instagram (2.82%) and then tutorials (4.13%). On the other hand, the fewest number of respondents are interested in promotional videos of the influencer’s own products (7.47%) or a collaborative brand (8.66%) as their favourite type of content. In terms of respondents’ favourite content viewed on the YouTube platform, similar to Instagram, were product reviews (2.95%) and next tutorial videos (3.54%). Again, most consumers were least likely to indicate promotional videos about the products of the brands the influencer works with (8.23%) and videos about influencers’ brands (7.56%).
In the next section, respondents again ranked, but in this case, they decided which beauty products were their most (1) and least (7) favourite in content posted by beauty influencers on Instagram and YouTube. Respondents had the following types of content to choose from when ranking:
A – Makeup products
B – Facial care cosmetics
C – Body care cosmetics
D – Hair care cosmetics
E – Hair styling cosmetics
F – Nail products
G – Beauty accessories
Then, similarly to the previous question, a weighted average value was calculated showing the degree of importance of each quantity according to the respondents’ preferences. The lower the value of the measure, the more the respondent prefers a particular type of content. The results are presented in Table 3.
Favourite beauty products in consumers’ feeds on Instagram are primarily facial care products (2.17%). Slightly fewer respondents indicated makeup products (2.44%). The last choice for consumers on Instagram were beauty accessories (5.43%) and nail products (5.43%). For the YouTube platform, respondents primarily pointed to makeup products (1.93%). The second most popular product category was facial care products (2.50%). As with Instagram, beauty accessories were the least popular.
The final part of the survey attempted to explore how respondents perceive beauty influencers on Instagram and YouTube. For this purpose, a 5-point Likert scale has been applied, with which consumers could assess the extent to which they agree with the given statement. Table 4 compares the two platforms: Instagram (IG) and YouTube (YT). Only Instagram users responded to the statements (n = 100), and the same is the case of YouTube (n = 102).
Over half of Instagram users say they trust their favourite beauty influencers on Instagram (55.2% trust and 5.7% definitely trust). By contrast, on YouTube, 42.6% say they trust influencers and 18.5% say they definitely trust them. On Instagram, 9.2% do not trust their favourite beauty influencers, and 5.6% simply do not trust them. Overall, slightly more than one-fifth of respondents do not trust influencers on YouTube (14.8% of viewers disagreed with the statement in Table 4, and 5.6% strongly disagreed).
In the second affirmative given in Table 4, the audience was asked if they agreed with the statement that beauty influencers are the first source of information when they want to purchase a product. About 43.7% of Instagram users agreed with the statement, while 5.7% strongly agreed. In contrast, Instagram users answered rather positive (42.6%) and strongly positive (18.5%). Very similar results were noted in the case of negative attitudes to the given statement, for 9.2% of Instagram users and 9.3% of YouTube beauty influencers are definitely not the first source of product information, and for 29.9% Instagram and 25.9% YouTube consumers are rather not.
Another statement focused on purchasing issues, specifically whether beauty influencers influence followers’ purchasing decisions. The study found that for both platforms they do. About 46% of Instagram viewers declare that beauty influencers rather influence their purchasing decisions, and for 11.5% they definitely do. In the case of YouTube audiences, 35.2% of respondents are rather under the influence and 16.7% definitely are affected by influencers when it comes to purchasing from beauty influencers’ recommendations.
Responses to the last statement were quite divided. About 34.5% of Instagram users tend to agree with the statement: ‘beauty influencers on Instagram are credible’. In contrast, 25.3% think quite the opposite, while 28.7% have a neutral opinion on the issue. Meanwhile, in the context of trusting beauty influencers on YouTube, 29.6% rather trust them, 24.1% rather do not, and 27.8% do not particularly have an opinion.
The objective of the paper is to compare consumers’ preferences towards activities and content, published by beauty influencers on Instagram and YouTube platforms. The study showed similarities between consumer preferences for content. On both Instagram and YouTube, consumers are most likely to watch product reviews, and secondly tutorials. On the other hand, they least prefer advertising content, such as product promotional videos of brands the influencer works with and promotional content of his own products. This may be because promotional content is increasingly associated with advertisements, and consumers realize that such videos are aimed at profit and selling specific products. Reviews, on the other hand, respond to the needs of consumers, who see value in these videos for themselves, they might get an opinion on a product they are interested in, e.g., some particular cosmetics.
Meanwhile, taking into consideration the product preferences of respondents, some differences were noted between the platforms discussed. Favourite products in the beauty category for Instagram users are primarily facial care products and secondarily makeup products. These two categories are also the most popular on YouTube, with the difference being that makeup products were the primary choice and facial care the secondary choice. Given the high popularity of tutorials and makeup products, it can be assumed that Internet users are learning how to apply makeup from beauty influencers.
The survey also showed that both Instagram and YouTube users perceive beauty influencers rather positively. In both cases, most of the consumers trust their favourite influencers, but they do not always feel the same way about beauty influencers in general. In this case, opinions were mainly spread between rather negative, neutral and rather positive. Respondents also mostly declared that influencers on both Instagram and YouTube are the first source of information when they want to purchase a beauty product, and most often the mentioned influencers later affect their purchasing decisions. Such results show that influencers are opinion leaders and have a real impact on consumers’ purchasing decisions.
The study fulfilled the purpose of the article and answered the research questions. However, the conducted survey had some limitations, such as non-random nature of respondent’s selection and a relatively small sample size. Therefore, it is difficult to generalize the results of this research. Nonetheless, it is hoped that the presented article can expand the knowledge of buyers’ perception towards influencers. In the future, it would certainly be worthwhile to overcome these limitations. Moreover, future research could focus on other social media platforms, such as TikTok, which has recently become incredibly popular, especially among teens and young adults.
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Bogdan Gregor — Full Professor at the Department of Marketing at University of Lodz. His main research interests include marketing, especially the evolution of marketing concepts, marketing in the digital era and marketing research. His scientific achievements involve over 400 papers, among them 26 books (published in Poland and abroad). He is a Scholar of the Humboldt Foundation and DAAD and Visiting Professor at universities in the USA, Germany, Spain and Holland.
Aneta Olejniczak — An assistant at the Faculty of Management at the University of Lodz. Her research interests concentrate on social media, social networking sites and influencer marketing. She is an author and co-author of several scientific papers.