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Soeurette Productions: “Communities must have a role in beauty content creation”

Having long established their credentials as the avant-gardists of social media influence, beauty brands and content creators continue to push the boundaries of the medium to deliver ever more creative and impactful campaigns. But what is the impact of a tightening market in which more brands and creators jostle for market share, and audiences become turned off by constant messaging bombardement? In this interview, consulting agency for beauty and fashion brands and content creators Soeurette Productions CEO Janane Boudili cautions that closer relationships and content collaborations between brands and KOLs will continue to be key, as they must also find ways to include communities in the process so as not to lose them along the way.

Soeurette Productions CEO Janane Boudili
Soeurette Productions CEO Janane Boudili

What are the key trends in beauty influence?

There are two major trends: luxury products, and whereas before it was selective products, now it’s wellness, health, holistic beauty. Everything that is cleansing, formulations, looking and feeling good inside and out.

Another big trend is the perfume market which is very strong on social networks. It’s quite new. Luxury perfume is new [to influence] with visuals, messages of empowerment. There is the side of it also that looks at the composition and ingredients of the perfume. With perfume it’s more about the message, about daydreaming, enchantment.

This interview is an excerpt from our Beauty Report for 2023.

How important is co-creation in the beauty sector?

We encourage our talents to really understand the brand’s culture. Influencers aren’t advertising billboards: our strategy is for the influencer to be immersed in the story.

We say no to a lot of partnership requests. When a talent accepts a partnership, it’s important that they listen, have lunch with the brand and share each other’s stories so that the content is written and co-created together. We work for a lot of beauty brands that have strong regulatory frameworks to respect. In beauty, there are a lot of scientific and educational aspects [to communicate in] the transmission of the brand and how their products are going to benefit the KOL.

The talents have the final say in who they work with. Content creation is artistic, it involves a lot of ideas. We discuss the editorial lines which could depend on events in their life such as if they’ve just had a baby, moved house, changed their lifestyle. It’s about following the evolution of a young woman’s life and adapting to it. In this profession, like ourselves as consumers, the same talent can have different products and desires, and share that truthfully and openly with her community.

The beauty sector is the most advanced and the most future-oriented. They are well ahead of the game in terms of how they treat the talent. We’ve had briefs from brands like Clarins which give the talent complete carte blanche. There’s a strong demand for content creators. In beauty and fashion, there is a great deal of freedom. We’re pushing brands to move in that direction and to trust content creators, because they’re the ones who know their communities, and they’re the ones who sell.

What impact has the new French legislation had on the sector?

The legislation enables us to see how honest the talent is with their community, because now it’s obligatory to label content that is part of paid partnerships. It allows us to regulate the market. It’s just good sense.

We were heavily involved in the consultations [to develop the law] because influencer marketing is advertising. The communities must be aware that it is advertising and also the partners must be aware as well. It’s the role of an agency to regulate that too.

Of course it has had an impact. It’s not always clearly understood by the KOLs and there are some feelings of injustice because there are some who do it and some who don’t. We work together with our partners, and our colleagues in other agencies to ensure transparency. Regulation [of the industry] allows us to be transparent and truthful, which is the DNA of our profession. Our business is about truth; waking up in the morning and sharing what kind of cream you use, how you cook your meals, what books you’re reading.

There are some KOLs who respected the law right away, others who didn’t out of fear of how their community would react. It’s true that since the introduction of the legislation, campaigns have less impact. The inflationary context has also contributed, but there’s a slight drop in transformation on ROI campaigns and strategies. Not for all brands, not for all sectors, but we’re talking about the beauty sector.  

How do you respond to KOLs who are worried about the impact of labelling posts?

All my talents are OK with it. We regularly inform them of their obligations and pay for them to complete the ARPP Certificate of Responsible Influence. But when they travel with a brand, they feel that it helps them create content and they don’t understand why they have to indicate that it’s a collaboration. It raises questions for them but they do it anyway. For the market as a whole, I’ve observed that most are actively doing it but there are some who don’t even realise it’s a profession.

How are the relationships between brands and KOLs evolving?

It’s not about briefing anymore, but about co-creation. Given that the market is much more regulated and transparent, creativity with the brands is very important. We’ve always helped the brands and the talents align with each other but where it used to be up to the agencies to manage it because brands were unfamiliar with the sector, co-creation right from the start is more important.

How are fragrance brands adapting to KOL marketing?

The explosion of perfume in the digital sphere is fairly recent. I think they’re taking money from the TV budgets and putting an effort into digital because they’ve understood that there’s a big message to be conveyed. But a big perfume message is so strong that if you don’t get the right people, you’ll get it wrong. TV advertising usually involves an actress carrying the message, so you have to find the people for whom it resonates. KOL marketing for perfume is more nuanced. For Fame by Paco Rabanne, it had to be people who wanted fame, who would go out and take certain types of photos and really own it. There are content creators who are not on social media for fame, they do it because they are in naturopathy, or they are skin experts. In luxury fragrance, we also see the fundamental beauty trend of being careful of what we consume.

Many top KOLs have launched their own beauty brands; does this create a conflict for them working with other brands?

No. There are a lot of creators who have launched brands, not just in beauty. Léna Situations has her own brand but it doesn’t stop her from working with big names like Dior. On the contrary, the brands are proud of her, and that gives her more credibility. One of the queens of beauty influence is Gaelle Garcia Diaz (@gaellegd 1.61m Instagram followers, 1.98m YouTube followers) who dissects what’s written on the beauty labels, and who now has her own cosmetics brand, Martine Cosmetics. She makes her own products, so when she talks about Luxéol or other brands, she knows what she’s talking about. A content creator is more than just a content creator, they become the heads of companies, they have their own teams and know what they’re talking about in their chosen field. It shows that she’s not lying to her community, that she’s truly passionate about beauty. That said, some brands might view them as competitors and decline to work with them. It’s rare, but it has happened.

How do you see KOLs prices in the beauty sector evolving?

They are going down. There’s more talent, so logically, they’re declining because there’s more supply. There’s a lot of demand, but although there’s a lot of supply now, those who are really in demand are few and far between. That’s down to statistics, conversion metrics. Those arriving on the market like Andie Key (@andie_ella 210k Instagram followers) — whose beauty content is extraordinary — she works as an ambassador and often people like her drop prices a little bit.

Prices are also declining because the market and budgets are very tight. There’s a lot of other social media actions coming into play. Whereas before it was all about influence, we’re now asked to create a whole media strategy and package around the same talent. Prices are going to drop because we want to tell a story, because we want to get into the life of the talent, it’s about being e-intelligent.

There are two major trends: the big agencies with big talent, and the talent that’s just arriving with 20,000 subscribers and who leave with 300,000. Those starting out set low prices at €200, €300, get discovered, enter agencies and that frames the market.

The ambassadors say to themselves: I’m going to accept fewer things, but I’m going to accept a package from six brands during the course of the year. I want to do less because I’m launching my brand, so I’ll stop the small stuff and leave it to the little guys. There’s a lot that’s changing.

Is the relationship between KOLs and their audiences changing?

The process of formalising the profession in law created a lot of noise. It was a very tricky subject, so people took a step back. They’re not sceptical and distrustful, they’re just taking a step back. They might choose to follow an influencer because they like them as a person and their content, but perhaps take more notice when they run campaigns. With our talents, we’re pushing them to work with fewer brands but with more logic in relation to who they are and who their community is.

When we write creative scenarios, we are less ROI-focused. It’s important that they are based on storytelling around the creator’s life and not on push promotions. Beauty is something that makes you dream, that feels good, that gives you confidence. Brands are beginning to understand that, but we’ve never been able to measure the real impact […of] the story and message being told that makes someone want it, maybe it’s only after the third time [that they buy it]. It’s impossible to measure when someone buys something in a pharmacy because it was recommended by their favorite influencer. Perfume, health and consumer products like shampoos and face creams take time. People have less money, and are paying more attention to what they spend, not only on digital. 70% of people want to consume for their well-being, and 55% of people use an app to do their shopping. It’s logical that this underlying trend has an impact on digital too.

What can we expect to see in the sector over the coming year?

One of the underlying trends is to create an event, or to create a big picture around which the message resonates. But not by pushing excessive consumption and events that involve a lot of airline travel, which is watched very closely by the communities.

Until now we’ve managed to build a bridge between the talent and the brand; over the next five years, we need to include communities in our message writing. To create a circular loop for open-mindedness and inclusivity for how we work together and include communities in the choice of campaigns.

We’re moving towards television-style campaigns, more inspirational concepts and storytelling, even if the objective is to sell. Brands also need to help us by developing their websites and make the digital experience even more interactive, so that you feel like you’re entering a universe, just like you would a boutique. The luxury industry is working hard on this.  

There are lots of new brands emerging in the holistic and health sector. There’s a fundamental trend: people can’t stand marketing-washing any more, anything that pushes them to overconsumption. It’s about putting yourself in the consumer’s shoes and serving them. Listening to the consumer and trying to translate that into more consumer-centricity.

About Kolsquare

Kolsquare is Europe’s leading Influencer Marketing platform, a data-driven solution that allows brands to scale their KOL Marketing strategies and implement authentic partnerships with KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders). Kolsquare’s technology enables marketing professionals to easily identify the best Content Creators profiles by filtering their content and audience, and to build and manage their campaigns from A to Z, including measuring results and benchmarking performance against competitors. Kolsquare has built the largest community of influencer marketing experts in the world, and offers hundreds of customers (Coca-Cola, Netflix, Sony Music, Publicis, Sézane, Sephora, El Corte Inglés, Lacoste, …) the latest Big Data, AI and Machine Learning technologies to drive inspiring partnerships, tapping into an exhaustive network covering 100% of  KOLs with more than 5,000 followers in 180 countries on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. As a Benefit Company, Kolsquare has been pioneering Responsible Influence by championing transparency, ethical practices, and meaningful collaborations to inspire change.

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