The worlds of fashion and grooming are in a constant state of flux, driven by what’s hot, new, and emerging. Consumers are turning to new sources for inspiration, recommendations and advice and the impact of social media cannot be denied. The enormous number of choices, as well as the ease at which they can be accessed and shared, have made these channels more important than ever. For affluent audiences, social media has become a key source of fashion and grooming inspiration, but not strictly in the way you imagine. Marketers have long turned to style influencers to promote their brands on platforms like Instagram and Facebook. These experts and celebrities help cut through the clutter—and, as a result, their power (and paychecks) have grown exponentially.
Yet the most influential Americans are not celebrities at all. They’re people within our own networks who have the passion, the information, and the means to be the first to road test new products—and the desire to share their discoveries with the rest of us.
At Ipsos Affluent Intelligence, we call these affluent influencers “Affluencers.” They may not look like YouTubers and Instagrammers selling sneakers and skin creams, but in their circles, an Affluencer’s recommendation is often much more influential.
Beauty Affluencers are the mavens that others seek for grooming and cosmetics advice and recommendations. They overwhelmingly say they enjoy keeping up with the latest fashion and beauty trends (291 index), view themselves as having an excellent sense of style (244 index) and are significantly more willing to pay more for luxury beauty and cosmetics products (261 index). They spend more than twice as much as non-Affluencers on beauty and cosmetics. They are much younger than the overall population – 52% are Millennial or younger. And they skew multicultural, especially Hispanic (239 index) and African-American (134 index).
Just because they’re not macro-influencers, Instagram celebs or famous Vloggers doesn’t mean these Beauty/Cosmetics Affluencers aren’t spreading their influence, both in person and on social media. Nearly 50% of them say they use social media to influence others (413 index). They spend more than 3.5 times as much time on Instagram, over 5 times as much time on YouTube, and nearly twice as much time on Facebook than non-Affluencers. Clearly, they’re not just viewing content – they’re also creating it, as well. Over 40% of them say they share feedback on products and services on social media – that’s over 7 times as many as non-Affluencers.
Social media is such a big part of their lives that Beauty Affluencers say they’d be lost without it (356 index), that their online identity is an important part of who they are (238 index) and that they regularly follow the social media posts of brands they are interested in (271 index).
Their activity is without a doubt impacting the shopping and buying of other Millennials. While all women are nearly equal on the importance they place on outward appearance, it’s Millennial women who are spending by far the most time getting ready. In fact, 22.4% of them say they spend 45 minutes or more getting ready, vs. just 9.5% of Gen X and 15.2% of 50+. That’s why these are the women most looking for inspiration, ideas, tips and tricks from friends, family and social media.
In fact, we see that their key sources of inspiration are social media (180 index) and friends (127 index). They’re much heavier users of all the social media platforms in general and Instagram and Facebook in particular. They, too, view social media as integral to their lives, also saying they’d be lost without it (173 index) and often relying on social media for news and information (159 index). And most important of all, they tend to believe the social postings of their friends (157 index), further highlighting the value of a brand’s social media strategy.
Brands should seek to understand and align with Beauty Affluencers – both for their own heavy category involvement and spending, and their ability to influence others. As this group is constantly searching for new ideas, successful brands should engage this desire with content that speaks to the Affluencers’ trailblazing nature; as well as, providing them ideas, videos and tips to share with others.