As fashion and beauty brands continue to pull the influencer marketing lever, MAC Cosmetics announced a new 12-person influencer partnership today with ambassadors across the globe.
It follows a playbook similar to newer brands like Morphe and Colourpop, which continue to lean heavily into influencer collaborations.
The new MAC program is launching in tandem with MAC’s Maker lipstick line and takes an international approach to influencer marketing. Each of the beauty influencers will target specific markets: Nyma Tang will focus on the U.S., Patricia Bright on the U.K., and Maine Mendoza on the Philippines. Other key regions include Canada, Chile, Mexico, Brazil, Russia, the Middle East, Germany and Spain.
Each influencer worked closely with the MAC Cosmetics labs to create custom colors and packaging for the launch, and will promote her own MAC Maker lipstick. Tang’s is the first to launch, with the roll-out taking place online and in select MAC locations on Sept. 13.
MAC’s collaboration strategy has evolved since the 1990s, when it debuted its Viva Glam collections in collaboration with the MAC AIDS fund, and it has continued to iterate from those with celebrities like Rihanna and Mariah Carey — the former sold out in 24 hours — and more influencer-focused lineups. Depending on the said partner and their vision for product and packaging, MAC said these collaborations can take anywhere from six to 24 months from concept to delivery.
“Consumers are accustomed to the consistent drumbeat of monthly launches,” said MAC Cosmetics svp of global product marketing Elizabeth Otero. That these MAC launches are typically well-kept secrets continues to add excitement for customers and that the brand is going global with a “market-adapted” approach is intended to connect with local consumers in a grassroots way.
According to launch-to-market platform Launchmetrics, more and more brands are re-allocating advertising dollars and converting them into influencer marketing budgets. In the last three years alone, this has increased 25 percent. In its latest The State of Influencer Marketing report, Launchmetrics found that in 2017 “80 percent of professionals in fashion, luxury and cosmetics activated campaigns with influencers, and their budgets for the coming year were projected to grow.” The company saw a 25 percent increase year over year from its previous report.
MAC has had success working with influencers in the past. In a partnership with influencer Patrick Starrr, the #MACPatrickStarrr hashtag drove $7.6 million earned media value (EMV) from 250 unique ambassadors, according to Tribe Dynamics co-founder and president Conor Begley.
“Nearly 50 percent of influencers used the hashtag in more than one post, indicating a sustained interest in the collaboration,” he said. Starrr himself drove a total of $3.6 million EMV across 194 posts, while the MAC x Patrick Starrr collection garnered $10.9 million from 447 unique ambassadors. This is a prime example of a best-in-class, meaningful influencer collaboration, added Begley.
Newer brands like Morphe and Colourpop are also testing rapid influencer drops and getting more personal with influencers — Morphe even calls them “extended fam” on its site. Regular Morphe collaborators include Manny Gutierrez (aka Manny Mua), Laura Lee and Bretman Rock. According to Tribe Dynamics, in the first quarter of this year, all three were the top EMV-driving ambassadors for Morphe. And the Morphe x Bretman Rock Babe in Paradise Highlighter Palette ranked in the first quarter’s top 15 mass cosmetics products, overall.
Colourpop, too, is another brand banking on sustained influencer relationships to create buzz, according to Begley. Through their work with the brand, beauty influencers Kathleen Fuentes (aka Kathleen Lights) and Karen Gonzalez raked in $3 million and $1.4 million EMV across their 75 and 67 posts, respectively. And these posts didn’t feel foreign to their massive audiences, either. In 2017, Fuentes and Gonzalez independently posted upward of 63 times about Colourpop. With conversion and traffic like that, clearly, influencer co-branded product collaborations will continue to be the norm in beauty.
The number of makeup collaborations have been growing over the past few years in the prestige beauty channel, but they still remain a small percentage of the overall market, said Larissa Jensen, beauty analyst at NPD Group. “A major factor playing into the success of collaborations is authenticity,” she said. “Morphe’s reputation was both founded in, and accelerated by, the influencers that have consistently reviewed and used the brand’s products on their social pages.”
However, not all collaborations are guaranteed to succeed, especially as more established brands flood the market with product and famous personalities. “Those collaborations that leverage values important to today’s consumers, like authenticity, nostalgia and value-based pricing are more likely to succeed in the crowded market and drive growth for the brands that pursue them,” she said.
These co-branded collabs also give influencers the potential opportunity to build out their own brands down the road, like makeup artist-turned-cosmetics mogul Huda Kattan, who is now valued at upward of $1 billion, or beauty influencer Tati Westbrook, who launched her own Halo Beauty line earlier this year.
Although that is yet to be seen for MAC’s latest group of influencers, the brand did start seeding interest around Tang and Bright’s collaborations with the brand as far back as January. Tang’s initial single post about the impending launch garnered nearly 26,000 likes and 1,000 comments.