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Fashion and Beauty on TikTok
TikTok has had a huge year, hitting a billion active users in 2020 after keeping Gen Z and millennials entertained throughout quarantine. There’s an incredibly diverse range of unique content, but TikTok rivals Instagram in terms of fashion and beauty content.
#tiktokbeauty has 380 million views, while #tiktokfashion has a whopping 11.4 billion. Fashion on TikTok has even given birth to its own subcultures, such as the ‘VSCO girl’ look, the E-boy/E-girl, and popularising athleisure.
World events and TikTok trends
Political events like the US election and the #BlackLivesMatter movement has directly impacted fashion and beauty trends on TikTok. Gen Z is the most diverse generation to date, and they care about promoting diversity more than previous generations have. Black Lives Matter inspired historic makeup tutorials, and propelled shade-inclusive brands like Fenty Beauty to TikTok stardom.
Of course, the pandemic also inspired fashion trends, contributing to the rising popularity of loungewear, athleisure and sports clothing. Pandemic escapism even led to the counterintuitive success of the ‘TikTok strawberry dress’. This $490 tulle party dress was inspired by the ‘cottagecore’ trend, and it sold out while the world was staying home.
Brand success on TikTok
Here at Fanbytes, we’ve worked with several household fashion and beauty brands and have concocted the perfect recipe for these brands on TikTok. We’ve seen Gen Z’s love of sustainable fashion reflected in the success of our TikTok campaign with Vestiare Collective: a designer reselling platform.
We’re also responsible for the launch of the first TikTok beauty brand, ‘The Gloss Twins’. While Instagram is full of influencers launching their own makeup lines, these twins are the first to launch their very own lip gloss line on TikTok, inspired by their videos. Industry veterans like Charlotte Tilbury, and Boohoo clothing have also trusted us to deliver record-breaking campaigns on TikTok.
The Rise of Luxury Fashion
Surprisingly, a big change in TikTok fashion is the rise of luxury and designer brands. As coronavirus disrupts the in-store retail and catwalk model, luxury brands are forced to get creative with their marketing strategy. Secondly, as the Gen Z and millennial market becomes more conscious of sustainability, they’re investing in longer-lasting luxury purchases instead of fast fashion. There’s a rise in re-selling designer items via apps like Vestiaire Collective and Depop.
Virtual Storytelling as Part of a Digital Recalibration
High fashion relies on the ‘storytelling’ component around their brand, and in the absence of an experiential in-store experience, video is the next best thing.
Dior premiered its SS21 read-to-wear collection entirely virtually, exclusively streaming on TikTok during Paris Fashion Week. They’re not alone: heavy-hitters Saint Laurent, JW Anderson and Louis Vuitton have also held virtual TikTok shows. Luxury brands have been old-fashioned in their marketing approach, with 55% of ad spend still allocated to print and physical channels, even in 2020.
As more people stayed home, the power of physical ads like billboards and tube ads has waned. Younger people primarily consume content digitally, and Gen Z is set to become the next biggest market, with a combined spending power of $143 billion.
High fashion has recognised the need to appeal to Gen Z. So, we’re seeing brands like Gucci not only use, but really leverage TikTok to connect with a new market. Gucci is an early adopter, leaning into Gen Z humour with the ‘Accidental Influencer Challenge’. They also lean into memes, with the ‘Gucci Model challenge’ where young people create outfits from their signature muted colour palette and aesthetic. Brands like Balmain, Fendi and Balenciaga have followed suit, though their efforts have yet to match Gucci’s organic success.
The pandemic has strongly disrupted the culture of fashion week, fashion shows and made some question if luxury brands can weather the storm. Given so many (usually slow adopter) brands have joined TikTok early on, we think they recognise how crucial it is to attract a Gen Z market, and find new ways of connecting virtually. We’re not just talking about streaming fashion shows, but delivering creative and immersive experiences via TikTok that reimagine what a fashion show actually is.
Viral Beauty Trends on TikTok
We’ve seen some incredible skincare and makeup trends go viral on TikTok:
A young Australian woman posted herself using the Ordinary’s Peeling Serum: a bright red exfoliation serum. The video went viral to millions of views, and prompted the sale of over 100,000 bottles in Australia, over $1.1 million Australian dollars profit. This showcases Gen Z’s buying power, especially from organic recommendations via TikTok.
Pride-themed makeup challenges
Later in 2020, we saw the viral #imcomingout challenge, set to Diana Ross’ tune ‘I’m Coming Out’. In true Gen Z fashion, the video uses rainbow makeup and glitter to showcase a joyous ‘coming out’ from the LGBTQ+ community.
Gen Z wants to engage with brands who care about equality, so participating in organic challenges like this is a great way of showing off your brand’s inclusive views. TikTok is a platform for authenticity, and challenges regularly feature themes of being your truest self as well as inclusivity. This is in part down to the user-base: a very diverse generation of young people across the sexuality and gender spectrum.
Gen Z subcultures and #EuphoriaMakeup
TikTok has its own subcultures and aesthetics. Some big ones for beauty brands to take note of are the e-girl/e-boy and the ‘makeup mogul’. E-girls and e-boys are called the ‘ultimate subculture’, wearing dyed hair, chains and generally unusual clothing. The idea is a performative, atypical and sometimes rebellious look.
The nuance of Gen Z subcultures is showcased in TV shows like Euphoria, which is widely acclaimed for having unique, flawless, and bejewelled makeup. The #euphoriamakeup challenge garnered 3.6 billion views and participation from Gen Z and millennials across TikTok. They replicated these looks with unexpected accessories like gemstones, glossy lipstick and bright eye makeup. A lot of videos used TikTok’s native editing effects, such as the kaleidoscope filter, which picked a makeup look for them to recreate.
Another subculture, transferred over from Instagram, is the beauty or ‘makeup mogul’. Examples of influencers in this subculture include James Charles and Kylie Jenner. Both focus on ‘extreme’ makeup with heavy product usage. This trend has led to the successful launch of Kylie Cosmetics, which regularly sells out collections. It’s also responsible for James Charles’ success on TikTok. This trend has huge spending potential for beauty brands, who can work with established influencers to showcase products.
Viral Fashion Trends on TikTok
Fashion trends on TikTok really emphasize personal style. Gender fluid clothing is becoming more common – we’ve even seen Gen Z icon Harry Styles wearing a skirt on the cover of Vogue! Here’s some of our favourite fashion TikTok trends.
Themed fashion challenges and viral music
Of course, a little nostalgia goes a long way, and TikTok’s audience indulges this via the #cartooncharacter fashion challenge. This trend focused on dressing as cartoon characters, while the Gorillaz song ‘Dirty Harry’ played in the background.
This trend tapped into a diverse range of communities across cartoon genres, leading to over 2.6 billion views on the hashtag! People loved the nostalgic vibe, and sometimes leaned into a full anime theme by recreating over-the-top looks, or put their own unique spin on it by pulling out specific outfits from their wardrobes. People also used this to dress as beloved cartoon characters from iconic shows like Scooby Doo, Arthur, and more.
The popularity of this trend comes from its universal appeal: everyone loved watching cartoons as a kid, and this is a positive way to express yourself creatively through fashion. This message really resonates with Gen Z.
Similarly, viral music can propel fashion trends too. Curtis Waters’ popular song Stunnin’ led to the ‘What I would wear if I was in…” challenge, where people imagined their wardrobe and outfits if they were in different TV shows, movies or cartoons. This video is an incredible showcase of how people interpreted a look across TV shows from various genres.
As we saw with luxury fashion, the concept of fashion week and fashion month is evolving. TikTok held its very own fashion month in September, showcasing top fashion creators styling transition videos and transformations.
Users generated incredible videos, such as this one imagining what a Disney princess would wear in real life, or this transition video inspired by a ‘Doll Look’. High fashion brand JW Anderson posted their own unique take, sharing a ‘collection reveal’ during TikTok Fashion Month.
This hashtag has an incredible 3.3 billion views, proving that TikTok is the place to be for fashion brands who want to be front of mind for Gen Z.
TikTok for Fashion and Beauty Brands
We can learn a lot from brands’ who have successfully nailed TikTok campaigns.
The ASOS #AySauce challenge and custom filter
ASOS, the go-to fashion and beauty retailer, launched their very own #AySauce challenge, playing on ‘showing off sauce’. This encouraged users to show off outfits they got at ASOS while dancing or throwing up peace signs, to activate a custom filter. ASOS partnered with some of the UK’s biggest influencers, including Love Island cast members.
The ASOS campaign was incredibly successful because it used three key techniques. They used influencer partnerships that boosted reach and helped retarget sponsored posts, custom AI filters, which added a layer of brand identity to the creatives, and an easy to recreate move, since users only had to throw up a peace sign in their videos to join in, making it more accessible.
Topshop: Blending in with fun transitions
Topshop’s sponsored posts are incredibly native to TikTok: they use native editing effects and fun transitions. Their subtle approach pays off, the hashtag #topshop has over 27 million views.
Since Gen Z see ads all the time, they’re likely to scroll right past something that looks obviously sales-y. Topshop’s ads work because they’re subtle, blend in extremely well with the TikTok feed, and are very similar to content users would post anyway.
The NYX dollhouse campaign
For Halloween, beauty brand NYX created the ‘Dollhouse Challenge’. This focused on creating spooky, detailed makeup looks set to Melanie Martinez’ song Dollhouse. With some eye-catching results, this hashtag was used over 650k times on TikTok, with a total of 2.2 billion views.
This challenge was super popular because it was easy to take part in, and users didn’t necessarily have to use NYX products. It was also perfect for a lockdown Halloween, where makeup made more sense than a full fledged costume.
Vestiaire Collective: Affordable Luxury
Vestiaire Collective is an app to buy and sell pre-loved fashion items. Their core approach is sustainability, where you buy less but better.
In our work with Vestiaire, we asked 8 influencers to show off their personal style, wearing items purchased from Vestiaire Collective. They then resold these items, showing off two core features of the app: how easy it was to buy and enjoy luxury goods at 70% off, and how easy it was to re-sell them.
Influencers used native TikTok effects like the ‘green screen’ to maximize engagement, putting strong calls-to-action to drive installs with text in the video. In doing so, we drove a huge 1,000+ organic installs and a 17.5% ad conversion rate.
We wanted to ensure the most cost-effective CPI for our clients, so A/B tested these creatives, leveraging the best-performing as paid ads. Consequently, our ads drove a further 4,000+ installs and we reduced the clients CPI by 50% when compared to other channels such as Instagram and Youtube.
The overall campaign drove a mammoth 1,307,200 views and Vestiaire Collective were so ecstatic with the results that they decided to run a 2nd US campaign which delivered 2.6M views whilst maintaining a similar CPI. Furthermore, we’ve since become their official TikTok partner, and have activated in other territories such as the UK & EU where we have been able to achieve record-breaking CPI’s of £0.40!
Predictions for 2021
The Future Of Social Commerce On TikTok
These campaigns drive home the effectiveness of TikTok as a marketing channel, compared to Instagram or Facebook. Since it’s relatively low on branded content as compared to other networks, advertisers have the golden opportunity to get in early and connect deeply with Gen Z audiences.
We believe TikTok’s focus on social commerce will make it integral to any fashion or beauty brand’s marketing arsenal in 2021. After introducing in-app purchase buttons, TikTok partnered with Shopify to make social commerce easier for over one million stores. Crucially, TikTok has worked on allowing people to purchase items in-app after seeing them in a video, leading to a less interruptive experience.
The Rise Of The ‘Skinfluencer’ On TikTok
We all know that influencer marketing will continue to thrive in 2021 but we predict that one in particular, amongst the beauty industry, will shine: the ‘skinfluencer’. We have already seen an immense interest by Gen Z on all things ‘skin’, with content involving skin secrets, how-to’s, and skincare tutorials going viral. The #skincare hashtag has accumulated over 23.5 billion views and #acne, a common skin problem amongst young people, has achieved 4.9 billion. What’s more, it has been found that Gen Z are progressively more skincare-aware than their predecessors, and therefore respond well to the rise of ‘skinfluencers’.
The infamous @skincarebyhyram has been seen as spearheading this ‘skin’ movement with #skincarebyhyram driving a humongous 1.8 billion views. He is predominantly renowned for his ‘reaction’ content to users’ skincare routines and tips. He bestows well-informed, skin-expert knowledge to his 6.7 million Gen Z fans and has become a multi-millionaire because of it. In fact, he made $265,000 in July 2020 from online ads and affiliate ads.
The power that these creators have is not to be underestimated. We’ve already seen Hyram ‘make’ certain skincare brands and ‘break’ others. St Ive’s’ apricot scrub is amongst one that he’s ‘broken’. He has urged his followers to throw out their St Ive’s scrub after labelled it as being too “harsh on the skin” and expressing that they give “instant gratification, leaving skin feeling smooth, but ultimately cause inflammation, redness and sensitivity.” The comments of these videos are typically left with comments like “omg throwing it away NOW” or “I use this everyday. I had no idea this was so bad for me”.
Since Hyram’s account has blown up, we’ve seen a larger flurry of creators hurrying to TikTok to get a piece of the action. Some example accounts are @J.C.Dombrowski, @mattrandon, and @drvanitarattan.
TikTok skincare creators will remain an important source for beauty information for Gen Z. With the beauty industry moving towards technology with a clinical approach, ‘skinfluencers’s’ recommendations will hold even more weight as buyers will look to them for ‘real’ and ‘authentic’ reviews.
TikTok now deserves as much importance as any other marketing channel. It’s important for luxury brands to recognize a digital shift in marketing and retail. For brands who are direct-to-consumer or already on social media, it’s important to move with the items and reach your audience where they are. If they’re Gen Z or millennial, they’re on TikTok. In the same way fashion and beauty brands would’ve been unwise to ignore Instagram in 2018, it would be silly to ignore the power of TikTok marketing in 2021.