As the original platform that gave rise to the beauty influencer, YouTube is ramping up its shopping links features with a focus on beauty as the catalyst.
When YouTube unveiled its shoppable links capability on its TikTok-like Shorts feature in June, beauty was its go-to category to unveil the feature. Debuting the tool for the first time at the YouTube Beauty Festival held last month, YouTube used the event to showcase its expanding livestream shopping capabilities as it taps into the social shopping revolution happening across platforms.
“Shopping is a huge white space,” said Derek Blasberg, head of fashion and beauty partnerships at YouTube. “Beauty is one of our biggest categories for YouTube Shopping, and we only expect it to keep growing.”
To get brands on board with the feature, YouTube published a study with advertising and PR company Publicis and consultancy TalkShoppe with findings that 70% of YouTube viewers say they bought a brand as a result of seeing it on YouTube.
Bridget Dolan, managing director of YouTube shopping partnerships, highlighted the fact that beauty creators have been on YouTube “from the very beginning.”
“We at YouTube see shopping as being a critical element for our beauty creators, brands and viewers,” she said. “I expect beauty to rank high as a category for shopping overall. It is why we started our shopping pilots with beauty and tech.”
Like many social platforms, YouTube has been increasing its shopping capabilities during the pandemic, adding shoppable ads in June 2020 and livestream shopping in July 2021 via a pilot program with select influencers. It also recently announced the capability to allow two influencers to do a joint livestream, hosting on each of their accounts to double the audience. It also gave them the capability to share a promotional link ahead of time for the joint livestream.
Glossier tapped into YouTube’s new shopping features for the Beauty Festival. It made its new No. 1 eyeliner pencil available exclusively through livestream shopping during the festival and YouTube Shorts. Ahead of time, it seeded the eyeliner to 100 influencers.
“Beauty discovery was fostered on YouTube and we believe in the platform’s vision, power and reach to continue to do just that. We believe that livestream shopping will continue to flourish when you have a strong community-first approach,” said Kleo Mack, svp of global marketing at Glossier.
“Shoppable livestreams are the next generation of home shopping. They are still at an early stage here in the U.S., but we see exponential possibilities, given the success of social shopping in Asia,” said Asha Coco, president at Jackie Aina’s brand Forvr Mood, which also participated in YouTube’s Beauty Festival.
YouTube is one of several tech giants creating its own version of TikTok-style short videos, along with Instagram’s Reels and Snapchat’s Spotlight. It is also joining a wave of other platforms offering livestream shopping, including Instagram, TikTok and Pinterest, as well as a wave of shopping-focused startups. These include beauty-exclusive platforms like Supergreat and Flip, as well as TalkShopLive, Shop LIT Live, PopShop Live and NTWRK.
Patrick Starrr, who participated in a livestream shopping video with Blasberg for the event promoting his brand One/Size, has been active with livestream shopping on Instagram and TikTok, as well. He described the feature as an “interactive, immersive and engaging way to shop.”
Olaplex, which also participated in the beauty festival with a livestream featuring influencer Mai Pham, uses YouTube “primarily for engagement, education and conversion,” said company CEO JuE Wong. The brand is also “exploring” YouTube Shorts, “but will also keep our focus on how successful YouTube long format has worked for us,” she said.