Over the past week, everyone in the beauty community has been able to talk about the now infamous trip to Dubai funded by Tarte Cosmetics.
On January 18, 29 influencers and their guests traveled on an Emirates Business Class flight to Dubai for the brand’s latest #TrippinWithTarte trip. Among the influencers were big names like Alix Earle, a college student who has skyrocketed in recent weeks to become one of the most in-demand influencers to work for.
Ultimately, the trip was to announce the brand’s new foundation set to launch on February 10, but the brand’s extravagant trips are nothing new. Tarte, for example, has organized more than 20 luxury trips since 2015.
Brand journeys started with host magazine editors in the early 2000s, then turned to fashion bloggers and YouTubers in the 2010s. Now TikTok influencers are getting a piece of the pie.
But with the recent reaction to Tarte’s Dubai trip, the question arises as to whether hype beauty trips, and even the influencers themselves, really work to sell products.
“In general, people don’t mind being marketed when they don’t ‘feel’ it’s marketing,” Maureen Coyle, an associate professor of psychology at Widener University, told In The Know. Coyle specializes in social media communications.
“Ads that feel more conversational and relatable can be more persuasive than ads that are explicit about their intent to persuade people to buy a product,” he explained.
According to Tarte CEO and founder Maureen Kelly, Tarte has always prioritized spending its marketing budgets on “relationship building” versus, say, a Super Bowl commercial. Kelly confirmed to Glossy that Tarte collaborated with Sephora Middle East to sponsor the trip, effectively shutting down popular TikTok conspiracies that the trip was a marketing ploy with the Dubai tourism board.
This strategy can work, according to Coyle, but there are a couple of caveats. On the one hand, the influencers involved, in order to be “credible” for consumers, must be perceived as authentic in their experience with a brand or product.
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“The hype trips alone are not necessarily going to be successful or not as advertising; it depends on the overall content of the influencer,” continued Coyle. “Promoted content must be consistent with an influencer’s overall brand to be seen as credible.”
The conversation and backlash against the Tarte beauty influencer’s journey has undoubtedly put the brand at the forefront of Internet users’ feeds this past week, whether they are beauty fans or not. But how effective is Tarte’s idea of spending money “relationship building” with influencers?
“There is some evidence that influencers might actually be more effective than celebrities for ads,” Coyle said. In this case, Coyle defines “celebrity” as someone who is famous outside of their social media presence, as opposed to an influencer. “If we think about who we trust more for recommendations, are we more likely to listen to our friend or a celebrity?”
A recent survey posted to the r/NYCinfluencersnark subreddit found that users disliked and completely disliked a brand after seeing influencers take a brand-sponsored trip. Part of this reaction could be because none of the users originally followed the creators or, as Coyle said, users were confused because their favorite influencers were on a trip to Dubai.
“I’m sure I’m not going to buy a product just because some random stranger went on vacation, but I’m also not going to stop using a product,” one person commented.
“Wealthy companies treating already wealthy influencers with expensive trips and free stuff just gross me out,” another noted.
There’s a valid point here: influencers make a living working with multiple brands at once and essentially making free publicity by posting about their PR packages. Brands even pay really big influencers to promote on social media, although Tarte CEO Kelly said none of the influencers on the Dubai trip were paid to go, but they were paid for everything on the trip.
There is also a debate about how trustworthy a beauty influencer is to followers and consumers, especially since most of them are juggling multiple beauty brand deals at once.
TikTokers noted that influencers who were on Tarte’s journey even filmed get ready with me (GRWM) videos that featured non-Tarte products. Earle, who has 4 million followers, posted a video from Dubai and an ad for Charlotte Tilbury on the same day.
To Coyle’s point, Earle built his following by being a student and documenting his days going to classes and frat parties. It’s unclear if the audience he’s created will connect with a mid-semester trip to Dubai.
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Yes, Tarte (and Dubai) is getting a lot of free press because of the trip, but it’s up in the air if it’s seen an increase in the number of people signing up for the foundation’s waiting list or if more current products are being sold. . In The Know reached out to Tarte and has yet to hear back from the report.
Some TikTokers have speculated that the ride may have been a dud, mainly due to a recent post from a new brand marketing director at Tarte. The theory is a bit of a stretch considering Tarte has been doing influencer tours for nearly a decade, and as one commenter pointed out, this is likely a repost from a job listing that’s been active for a while.
But the general reaction to the trip seems to be one of exhaustion: exhaustion from seeing the same people on fancy vacations that they didn’t have to pay for because of their number of followers.
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The post Are influencer beauty trips already effective? first appeared on In The Know.
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