August 26, 2019

What do boy bands have to do with beauty?

Kristy Click // WTF BEAUTY

The social media conversation around Korean beauty (K-beauty) spiked in April. It had nothing to do with a new snail treatment.

An analysis performed by Ipsos’ Synthesio social listening platform makes clear that the uptick had everything to do with BTS. The boy band sensation from South Korea performed on “Saturday Night Live” in April and sold out stadiums on a brief tour of the U.S. in May.

The study used the new Signals module, which combines AI with social listening to quickly show trends and correlations between conversations. It quantifies how the huge swings in conversation were based on two factors. First, there is an undeniable relationship between Korean culture and Korean beauty and their influence on the global beauty landscape. During the period measured, there was a particularly high volume of conversation surrounding the Korean sheet mask brand Mediheal due to its association with BTS.

Another sub-trend in K-beauty is its adoption by men. That chatter was boosted by the BTS tour, but the subsequent rapid fall-off shows that the bump was likely an outlier and the conversation dipped quickly back to growing at a more slow and steady rate.

Taking the BTS-driven posts out of the analysis, we see that facial masks account for nearly half of the discussion, followed by cleansers with the male beauty discussion hovering around 10%. A single viral post about short hair vs. long hair drew more than 10 million interactions. Interestingly, the research demonstrated that the social conversation about K-beauty dropped off significantly on weekends.

Further, despite broad influence from Asian beauty culture on global trends, the social conversation is completely dominated by K-beauty over Japanese beauty, or J-beauty.

Overall, this demonstrates the heavy role of influencers in generating buzz about beauty brands—unexpectedly, even among men. In this space, a celebrity endorsement (at least of a BTS caliber) can escalate brand mentions. Increased top-of-mind awareness lends itself to higher consideration and purchase behavior.

As beauty trends move faster and faster, tools like social listening can help brands keep up and adapt in the moment.

Kristy Click

Kristy Click is a Client Officer at Ipsos.


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, Senior Vice President, Client Officer, U.S., Client Organization

Kristy Click is a Client Officer at Ipsos and a 25-plus year veteran of marketing research with expertise in global beauty research.

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