Business Categories Reports Podcasts Events Awards Webinars
Contact My Account About

How Topicals Is Redefining Influencer Marketing

Published February 4, 2024
Published February 4, 2024

The marketing landscape is rapidly changing, and influencer marketing has grown as a powerful tool that has especially resonated with the Gen Z audience. Among the notable mentions is Topicals, an inclusive Gen Z brand that has recently embarked on a unique journey with a cohort of Black influencers to Accra, Ghana, including Sierra Rena and the Love Island duo Dami Hope and Indiyah Polack. This expedition not only highlights the evolving nature of influencer marketing but also raises pertinent questions about ethics, authenticity, and the impact of such collaborations on communities, both online and offline.

Topicals, founded in 2020 by Gen Z entrepreneur Olamide Olowe, raised $2.6 million in venture capital funding to develop the beauty company. Two years later, they announced a $10 million round in new financing led by CAVU Consumer Partners, after experiencing a remarkably explosive 3x revenue growth in 2021 alone. In 2023, they were a FUTURE50 brand, and were expected to have a full-year revenue range of $20 million to $30 million.

As informed by their own independent consumer surveys, the brand is using science-backed research processes to create products that address issues such as mental health and skin conditions including eczema and acne. “We’ll be using this research to continue to create effective products that meet the needs of consumers, especially those of color. This research not only allows us to move the needle on diversity and inclusion within skincare but also to be better product developers and get very granular with people’s needs,” Roxana Ontiveros, Product Marketing Lead, stated. In doing this, they have captured the hearts and minds of the younger generation, especially through channels like social media.

However, in order to stay pertinent in an industry as competitive as beauty, there comes a need to redefine the approach and choose the right distribution channels, including brand trips. Tarte, Revolve, Pink Honey, and Topicals—which celebrated its third year in business by taking 16 influencers on a trip to Bermuda—are some of the brands currently tapping into this expenditure. On TikTok alone, videos with the hashtags #influencertrip and #brandtrip have accumulated over 100 million collective views. “When it came to us starting the journey of incorporating brand and influencer trips into our strategy, it was new to us. We had never done it before,” Imani Moss, Influencer Marketing & Partnerships Senior Associate at Topicals, tells BeautyMatter. “Because of how great the Bermuda trip went, we decided to do Detty December [a kind of annual celebration that has become increasingly popular in West African countries like Nigeria and Ghana, when African diasporans travel back to Africa to celebrate the holiday season] in Ghana for 2023,” she continued.

One would think that influencer trips are just what they sound like—influencer trips. However, there’s a lot more that goes into it, including thinking of the right products to bring on the trips, or the style of content particular to these influencers. “We plug and play with the style of content that creators make—whether it’s GRWM, ASMR, our welcome dinner, our closing dinner, or something specific that's on our itinerary. We’ll work with each creator and collaborate with them to see what works best for their audience and what's authentic to their brand,” Moss says. “The hero products we bring are important, as we change them based on the destination. For Bermuda, it was Like Butter Mist, as it was something a lot of people use during the summertime. For Ghana, it was the Faded Under Eye Masks.”

“Topicals is a brand that is rooted in community, so we want all the influencers and people that we partner with to also share the same values of community with their audience."
By Amoy Brown, A-Gold Consulting

Countries in Africa like Nigeria and Ghana have become a global hotspot for creativity and thriving businesses, including beauty. It has also become a converging melting pot for Africans and those in the diaspora looking to connect, especially during seasonal holidays like Christmas and the New Year. On platforms like TikTok, there have been over 49,000 hashtags on Detty December. With Ghana positioning itself as one of the best countries to visit in Africa for tourism, it  made sense that the team at Topicals went on a brand trip with these influencers. “We chose Ghana because it has made an effort to make it easy for the diaspora to come back,” Olowe tells BeautyMatter. “It's invested in tourism, which is kind of one of the things that propelled us to choose it, and also the fact that I am of African descent,” she continues.

Brands recognize the power of influencers in shaping consumer preferences and driving engagement. Gen Z, in particular, values authenticity and relatability, and would only listen to influencers they trust. In this landscape, Topicals has emerged as an interesting brand, doing influencer marketing right. The brand understands the importance of genuine connections and crafted a strategy that prioritizes transparency. “A lot of our influencers actually deal with the conditions our products help with,” Moss says. “We also allow these influencers to test the products to see if it’s a right fit and dedicate time to letting them get familiar with the products,” she continues. By fostering authentic relationships with influencers, Topicals ensures that collaborations align with the values of both the brand and the influencers, maintaining credibility in the eyes of their audience.

Beyond the digital realm, Topicals' collaboration holds significance for countries like Ghana and its people. The trip ran from December 26 through January 2, and had them collaborating with African music festival AfroFuture (formerly known as AfroChella). “Topicals is a brand that is rooted in community, so we want all the influencers and people that we partner with to also share the same values of community with their audience,” Amoy Brown of A-Gold Consulting, an agency to Topicals, tells BeautyMatter. The trend of influencers, especially from the African diaspora, traveling back to Africa contributes to a positive shift. “We [also] worked with an organization (Chosen Home Orphanage) such that once we left, we donated to them,” Moss jumps in. As influencers explore their roots and showcase the beauty of their heritage, it creates a bridge between continents, fostering understanding and appreciation on a global scale. “There are plans to launch in Africa through partnerships on the ground,” Olowe adds. “We [also] hosted well received pop-ups in Lagos, Nigeria, and Cape Town, South Africa, during Detty December.”

Topicals' journey with Black influencers to Ghana encapsulates the evolving landscape of influencer marketing. Navigating the ethical challenges inherent in the industry, the brand sets a standard for authenticity and inclusivity. As influencer marketing continues to shape consumer behavior, the responsibility lies with brands to prioritize certain practices such as understanding the influencers and their audience, and being transparent. The Topicals case serves as a blueprint for an industry where transparency, diversity, and authenticity are not just buzzwords, but fundamental pillars for success.


2 Article(s) Remaining

Subscribe today for full access