Selfies and snail slime: Analyzing beauty conversations on Facebook and Instagram

In the UK, France, Germany and the UAE there has been a big growth in beauty conversations among women on Facebook and Instagram over the last 12 months. On Facebook we’ve seen a 18% increase in mentions of beauty, a 20% increase in mentions of makeup and a 16% increase in mentions of skincare1.

Beauty has always been about self-expression and thanks to the smartphone, people are now able to express themselves to a wider audience, on the go, in real-time. Where once the beauty purchase journey was relatively simple and linear, now as the online and offline worlds become ever more intertwined it is complex, fluid and individual.

To help you understand the increasingly noisy world of beauty a little better, we’ve analyzed our Facebook and Instagram data, and commissioned a GfK survey of 3,648 female beauty shoppers across the UK, France, Germany and the UAE.

What we found is that with so many touchpoints along the purchase journey from inspiration to purchase and sharing, brands have a wealth of opportunities to reach and engage shoppers. And although offline channels like retail stores still have a strong role to play in this journey, Facebook and Instagram are increasingly vital companions across the entire path. Indeed, more than three quarters of beauty shoppers admitted to being tempted by a product that they didn’t intend to buy, so there is a great opportunity for beauty brands to influence potential shoppers via Facebook and Instagram.


The mobile beauty counter

Smartphones unlock a world of tailored information that beauty shoppers crave. Six in ten beauty shoppers surveyed agree they could not live without their smartphone. 45% of beauty shoppers agree that their mobile device (smartphone or tablet) is quickly becoming their most important shopping tool, and the percentage is even higher for Millennials (55%). Mobile phones are becoming the new beauty counter — a phenomenon we see across the globe based on our findings here in EMEA and from previous studies in the US and in Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia and South Korea.


Selfies and snail slime mentions increase

When we explore the increased beauty conversation on Facebook, we can see shifts in people’s attitudes towards beauty. For example: mentions of words related to natural beauty grew on Facebook by 38% year on year, from Nov 2015 to Nov 20162. During the same time, mentions of snail slime increased by 533%3. Has the celeb craze for using snail slime as a face mask hit the mainstream? Not necessarily, the growth may be huge, but it is still a fairly small group of women who are talking about it.

On Instagram, we see our love of the front-facing camera is not going away, with #selfies particularly popular among young people who are very active on the platform.


Digital can turn shoppers into buyers

So, are these people talking about beauty online, also buying online? Our GfK study shows that buying in store is important, 68% of beauty buyers say they purchase in store only, but when these shoppers want inspiration they also go online. Nearly three quarters (72%) of beauty shoppers have been influenced by digital at some point in the path to purchase. The higher value the product the more likely the purchase is to involve online research. For example, among those surveyed, a make-up removal wipe is bought in store three quarters of the time (73%) versus a more expensive and considered product, such as eye cream (57%).

Our survey shows that young people tend to buy more beauty products than older people — with 18- to 24-year-olds buying 12 products over a three-month period, compared to nine products for the 55+ set.

Millennial women (aged 18-34) are particularly keen on using Instagram for beauty inspiration. 37% of women under 34 years old say they use Instagram to be inspired by looks and beauty trends compared to 25% of women over 35 years old. Young people are also more likely to watch online beauty videos; a quarter of beauty buyers aged 18-34 watch videos to inspire them (24%) compared to 16% of those aged 35-64 years old.


Buying beauty for a special occasion

Whether it’s a holiday, a night out or being invited to a friend’s wedding, important moments drive beauty purchases. Half of beauty buyers (52%) say they’ll buy a beauty product specifically for an upcoming special occasion. An upcoming holiday is the number one occasion for people to buy a beauty product, followed by Christmas, a wedding invite and a night out. Again, age has an influence, for example, women aged between 18-24 years old are twice as likely to buy make-up for Halloween than the average across all ages. Of all occasions, people are most likely to seek inspiration and look for the latest trends when they’re invited to a wedding.


What it means for marketers

Inspire beauty shoppers early. With three quarters of beauty shoppers admitting they’ve been tempted by a beauty product they didn’t intend to buy, there is a big opportunity to inspire and tempt them. To find out how visit our mobile makeover webpage to download our mobile makeover e-book, or our Instagram e-book..

Think mobile first. Mobile has unleashed a whole new way of expressing ourselves. It’s a naturally visual medium, and it offers us a new language of emojis, photos, videos, stories, gifs, selfies, stickers and more. Our mobile makeover webpage has a creative toolkit to help brands stand out in a mobile world and make the move from News Feed to makeup bag.

Be seen where your consumers are spending time. Achieve everyday relevance through content that’s relatable and accessible, to win attention and encourage beauty buyers to explore more. Beauty brands have the opportunity to rewrite the rules of discovery and engagement.


1,2,3: Facebook data mentions of beauty, makeup, skincare terms for women 18+ in the in DE, FR, GB, UAE between Nov 2015 to Nov 2016 (accessed March 2017)
Source unless otherwise specified: Beauty Path to Purchase by GfK (Facebook commissioned study of 3,648 women ages 18+ who have shopped for a beauty product within the prior 3 months in DE, FR, GB, UAE, UK), Jan 2017.