Report: Beauty Brands Returned to Posting Darker Skin Tones Over Holidays

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Data from Eyecue and MagicLinks suggests that racially inclusive influencer campaigns perform better, with Black influencers garnering a particularly high engagement and conversion rate.

Following a spike in Instagram posts featuring darker skin tones, and a steep regression that suggested the initial increase was performative, beauty brands returned to posting darker skin tones on their feeds throughout the holiday season, a new report from Eyecue found.

Presence of dark skin tones in images grew by 25 percent over the holidays in comparison to 2019, according to Eyecue’s report. That growth was still less than the significant increase that came in June 2020, though it is higher than the subsequent regression in October. The trajectory suggests that “brands (re)focus on inclusion and diversity when planning content for key times of the year,” Eyecue wrote in its report.

The largest increase in content diversity came from influencer- and user-generated content, with medium or dark skin tones accounting for two-thirds of this content during the 2020 holiday season — up from half in 2019.

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Eyecue applied its artificial intelligence technology capabilities to analyze more than 170,000 images from more than 80 beauty brands over the course of 2018 through December 2020 for its newest report. The company identified at least one skin tone on 65,000 portrait and closeup images, accounting for nearly 40 percent of all of the content.

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The report was created in tandem with one from influencer marketing agency MagicLinks, whose diversity, equity and inclusion team recently implemented a 30 percent minimum requirement for racial diversity of talent in all campaigns. In its report, the agency found brands that incorporated greater racial diversity in their holiday campaigns saw better performance.

“With instituting this 30 percent minimum in racial diversity, our team has been able to, in most cases, double that,” said Bryan Mirabal, MagicLinks’ global creative strategy and diversity, equity and inclusion lead. “It’s been great to see from brands that there’s interest, there’s cooperation.”

Andrea Renee was the top-performing influencer in a Sephora campaign run by MagicLinks. Influencers of color garnered a click rate three times higher than the norm in the campaign, which drove an engagement rate 52 percent above goal. Additionally, the view-through rate was 110 percent higher than expected.

In a Giorgio Armani Beauty holiday campaign, Monroe Steele garnered a conversion rate three times higher than her peers’, as well as the highest amount of engagement. The campaign drove an engagement rate of 8.5 percent — twice the industry average — and a view-through rate of about 14 percent — four times the industry average.

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