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Long Live the Legacy

Long Live the Legacy

Acclaimed legacy brands like Estée Lauder and L’Oréal earned their place at the top through decades of triumph dominating the beauty industry. They’ve served generations of women with well-made, dependable products that elevate any look. Their names line the shelves of consignment stores like Nordstrom or Macy’s fortified in their position like they’ve owned the section forever. 

However, there’s one place you may miss these household names on the leaderboard … and that’s social media. 

Believe it or not, legacy brands’ content only makes up 3% of total views, while influencer- driven content brings in a whopping 97% (Digital Surgeons). 

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But how can this be? Legacy brands clearly have plenty of experience in marketing their products to customers all over the world if they’ve kept themselves in business for so long. Now, the wave of influencers that rose in popularity coming out of the pandemic are beating them at their own game. Social media transcends traditional marketing forces by creating personalized, accessible, and relatable campaigns with brand ambassadors that capture audience’s attention by sharing their lifestyles and personality with the masses. They have millions of followers from around the world in the palm of their hands with every post, so you can bet that when they say they adore a certain face cream or eyeliner, it’s going to sell out. Imagine every like, repost, and save on these videos as dollar signs. 

This begs the question, why are the more established, legacy brands failing to take full advantage of the hottest trend for digital marketing? One answer could be that they tailor to an older audience that isn’t as active or moved by TikTok influencing.

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The history of the brand carries over into the history of the customer, meaning that women whose mothers or grandmothers bought from a brand like L’Oréal will continue to buy from them and the pattern continues from there. New brands are desperate to establish themselves as a household name in beauty and will do everything possible to get their name out there. They want their marketing to be new, fresh, and representative of the brand they are creating. 

Another explanation for this phenomenon is that legacy brands rely on their consistency and prior success to surpass the need for a social media team to bring in sales. However, times are changing and getting attention and money from young customers comes from meeting them where they are, and that’s on social media. Brands are even partnering with the TikTok shop to sell their products directly through the app. I’ve seen products from One-Size, the makeup line founded by YouTuber and influencer, Patrick Starr, and Tarte appear in sponsored videos with an easy-to-use link to buy through the TikTok shop. Influencers are paid to make sponsored videos promoting certain products, but they range in effectiveness in their ability to sell me on it. 

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When I see a video saying this lotion or this hair curler “changed my life” or is the “best thing I’ve ever bought from the TikTok shop,” I’m more hesitant to believe that the content is more than just a money grab for the influencer. Often the product they’re selling looks completely unused or unopened, so how am I supposed to believe this product truly “cleared all your acne” or whatever claim they seek to make? The true difference between the sponsored videos that make me want to scroll and the videos that make me want to shop is authenticity. 

It matters if the content creator is someone that I find trustworthy and honest, versus deceitful and ingenuine. Influencers that choose their brand deals wisely, only working with brands that 

align with their own personal brand online, are the real salespeople to look out for and they bring in thousands of dollars to the companies they partner with. 

So how does this connect with legacy brands? It’s no secret that celebrities are chosen to be the face of beauty campaigns, fulfilling the role of a brand ambassador. Sometimes they’re prancing through a field of daisies enjoying the summer or on a racetrack with fire and pouring rain, depending on the aesthetic and vision of the line and the brand. While the classic celebrity route is not to be ignored, I believe larger brands might benefit from partnering with celebrities of a different kind, influencers. 

Multimillion dollar brands might not necessarily need TikTok shop or sponsored videos to be successful, but working with the right creator can do wonders for a brand. People know what brands their favorite influencers represent, and in an effort to emulate their lifestyles, audiences are drawn to their recommendations. Over a billion people are on TikTok today, with the most popular creators yielding a follower count of millions. If there is an audience to be tapped into, legacy brands should not waste time trying to modernize and improve their own social media to reach it, but rather let the influencers join the legacy.

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