Twitch may just become a new frontier for beauty audience engagement. Founded by Justin Kan in 2011, the platform was soon acquired by Amazon in 2014 for $970 million. Today, the platform counts over 9.36 million active streamers with 41.5 million Twitch users in the US alone, and 140 million unique visitors monthly. It is responsible for 1.8% of peak internet traffic, superseded only by Netflix, Apple, and Google.
“Brands are looking to both further engage and entertain consumers in new manners, and to expose themselves to a new audience -- one of which consists of 15 million daily visitors. We’re already seeing this play out through partnerships and collaborations with Twitch stars, as seen with E.l.f and Loserfruit and through branded games such as Benefit’s Game Face,” Livvy Houghton, senior creative researcher at strategic foresight consultancy, The Future Laboratory, tells BeautyMatter.
As of the most recent statistics, 65% of users are male and 44% of adult users are 20-29 years old. While Twitch has a largely male demographic, female streamers have been gaining traction, plus the sheer viewership numbers provide a hefty amount of reach, even though the beauty category is still in its nascent stages. But as more audiences found themselves confined to their homes in the pandemic, the platform’s popularity grew. Between 2019 and 2020, the body art and beauty categories grew by 208%.
“The beauty space is pretty much non-existent right now on Twitch. There are a few streamers here and there that I see randomly who showcase a product or what they're doing for a hot second, but then they go back to their normal streaming routine,” Young Yuh, owner of the Twitch account yayayayoung, tells BeautyMatter. Yuh also counts over 1 million followers on TikTok and 75K on Instagram. While Yuh’s beauty content predominantly centers around skincare, it is also expanding into makeup and nail art. MadeYewLook is another prolific beauty-focused Twitch account, with over 70K subscribers. As a fantasy, body painting, and cosplay enthusiast, Yuh recently launched her own line of body paints and makeup brushes. In recent months, live video diaries and chats surpassed gaming-related content as the most popular platform category, suggesting a more direct relationship developing between streamers and viewers, and with that, more trust in their content.
If the proliferation of live-stream shopping is anything to go by, consumers are keen to try products recommended by their favorite content creators. Twitch also lets viewers directly communicate with the streamer in real time, and since the content is streamed, there is no delay between filming and screening—two points that are less accessible on another popular beauty streaming platform, YouTube. It also creates a more authentic connection between streamer and viewer as there are no opportunities to edit footage. While Instagram does offer livestreams as well, the interaction mechanics such as live chat are easier to access and read on Twitch.
“The biggest advantage [of Twitch over other social media] is creative control and engagement with your audience. There is so much control as opposed to other beauty specific streaming platforms, and the amount of things you can do to engage with your audience is amazing,” Yuh states. “I 100% see the potential for beauty brands to engage on Twitch and on streaming platforms in general. People love to talk to their favorite creators live.”
M.A.C. launched a collection of lipsticks inspired by the mobile game Honor of Kings. e.l.f. Cosmetics was the first beauty brand to create its own Twitch channel, with a Game Up initiative, a gaming meets makeup premise (however, the brand was also quickly criticized for not having more diverse representation on their channel). Michelle Phan, one of the original beauty gurus on YouTube, also set up home on Twitch, promoting Em Cosmetics’ new cushion foundation during a livestream, complete with links-to-purchase in the chat. The result was 45% of the brand’s daily site traffic being generated through the livestream alone, and a 278% increase in units sold on said launch day in comparison to previous releases.
In fact, the medium has such community traction that it has inspired the birth of a new, beauty-specific platform altogether. Jenny Qian and Youri Park, both former Twitch employees, launched Newness in May 2021. They already acquired $3.5 million in seed funding and have 187 creators using the site. “Beauty is an inherently social thing. Livestreaming is just the best conduit in having those conversations,” Qian tells WWD. In contrast to Twitch, Newness offers chat moderations and doesn't disclose viewer counts. Tatcha recently used Newness to launch its Silk Powder, as did Rare Beauty for its eyeshadow palettes.
However, it takes more than one live stream to strike gold with Twitch audiences. “Gaming is nothing new, so just solely adding a sector-tag to it, won’t be enough to engage consumers. Brands must really consider how to translate the specifics of make-up, skincare and cosmetics into relatable content,” Houghton adds.
Whether brands decide to access the potential of gaming giant Twitch, or the more niche likes of Newness, one thing is certain: as viewers crave a more seamless and open dialogue with their favorite content creators, livestreaming platforms will become a force to be reckoned with.
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