Is the consumer beauty community on Instagram a bit schizophrenic? It’s an argument that could be made. If you scroll through the endless accounts of bloggers and beauty enthusiasts, you’d notice a strong trend towards total product excess. This is user-generated content where the main objective is to show the vastness of the account holder’s personal product collection. One image could, for example, feature upwards of 20 or 30 Drunk Elephant products, or the entire line of Glossier Cloud Paints, or every nude lipstick that Bare Minerals currently has on the market. These are product shots on steroids—a celebration of excess and buying power.
Typically ranging in follower count anywhere from 10K to 100K, and averaging well above what is generally considered the key rate(s) of engagement according to Influencer Marketing Hub, these accounts have achieved success online showing you the largesse of their material lives. And through picturing brands and talking about them. On the whole, when brands post product images to Instagram they tend to receive more attention and engagement. According to Olapic, about 65% of the better-performing brand posts on the platform feature product shots over, say, lifestyle or celebrity-endorsed posts. Brand names help connect accounts and viewers on Instagram both visually and experientially.
So how do you reconcile this pattern of excess with growing consumer trends that are diametrically opposed? Namely, the trend towards more minimal and simplistic beauty routines, and towards more sustainability. Let’s briefly touch on both.
There’s a definite push amongst a segment of consumers towards simplicity in their beauty products. This usually ticks any or all of the following boxes: fewer ingredients, minimal packaging, simpler claims, multifunctional products. Take “skipcare,” for example. According to Elle, it’s an edited-down, no-nonsense version of the famous (yet lengthy) Korean skincare routine that’s been trending for the past year or so. It’s all about targeting your skin’s needs, cutting back on unnecessary steps, and using only products with the most efficacy. If you look at some of the beauty brands that have sprouted in the past several years, like Glossier, Milk Makeup, or Lilah b, it’s all about simplicity and a less-is-more approach.
But you’d be hard pressed to find this less-is-more sentiment reflected on Instagram.
Yet at the same time, the topic of waste is on the collective brain like never before. Beauty brands are changing their relationship with excessive packaging in response to growing calls from more eco-conscious consumers. An estimated 70 percent of waste from the beauty industry is from packaging, as reported by Vogue UK. Brands like Ren Clean Skincare and RMS Beauty are at the forefront of this movement, making zero waste a fundamental part of their brand story.
But when you scroll through Instagram, it’s hard to see where excess ends and sustainability or minimalism begins. This reinforces the fact that what’s valuable and important to one beauty consumer cannot and should not be applied to another. The dichotomy that exists between Instagram’s product glut and the marketplace’s journey towards product leanness is very real, and the gap shows us just how segmented the consumer base really is.
Photo: Helena via Flickr