Tribe Dynamics has created an exclusive report for CEW members whereby for the first time they’ve shared a list of the Top 10 skin care brands

based on social media engagement for the month of September. Both mass and prestige brands were considered, and after careful analysis Tribe uncovered several key findings.

*September’s Top 10 Skin Care Brands With Highest Earned Media Value

1. NEUTROGENA $1,721,930.45

2. CLINIQUE $1,517,817.65

3. CLARINS $1,055,026.55

4. SOAP & GLORY $788,326.50
5. DOVE $752,001.70

6. OLAY $720,125.30

7. SHISEIDO $713,251.50

8. SUAVE $669,834.55
9. BURT’S BEES $509,467.10

10. CLARISONIC $427,926.00


Mass market and prestige brands were equally represented in September’s Top 10 skin care list, spanning a variety of needs, products and third-party retailer partnerships. With almost a perfect split in earned media value [EMV] between the two market segments, the per­centage difference between the mass market and prestige brands’ re­spective combined EMV was only 2.95%. At least at a macro level, neither market segment seems to be significantly outperforming the other in digital innovation and strategy.

Though, the brands making it into the Top 10 varied a bit when segmenting out engagement by social platform. For example, Clinique led in blog, Pinterest and YouTube engagement, whereas Olay ranked first in Twitter.


Taking a deeper dive into brands’ earned media value by channel, Tribe saw that a few note­worthy patterns appeared for both mass and prestige from a strategy perspective. Mass brands inspired greater level of content creation on four of the six channels monitored: Blogs, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Mass brands outperformed pres­tige brands most notably on Twitter, with a 60.61% difference in EMV. Meanwhile, prestige brands far outstripped mass market on both YouTube and Pinterest, generating respectively 66.71% and 69.18% more EMV.

At the brand level, number one seed Neutrogena excelled on In­stagram. The brand benefited from a series of high-engagement posts published by Seventeen Magazine in celebration of the brand’s celebrity ambassador, teen actor Bella Thorne. Top per­forming prestige brand, Clinique, dominated YouTube, appearing in a variety of “monthly favorites” videos and beauty tutorials. The brand also benefited from videos created specifically in re­sponse to the launch of its Purifying Cleansing Brush.

SIX-MONTH OVERVIEW: Skin Care Relies On Launches to Generate Buzz

Despite market segment patterns in channel performance, there seemed to be no real pattern in either segments’ trending earned media performance over the past six months. Spikes in perfor­mance were largely dependent upon individual brand initiatives or product launches that spurred online conversations.

In addition, consistency of performance across the brands ranged independently of market segment. Brands such as Olay and Soap and Glory, falling in the middle of their market segments, performed at a stable rate, compared to Clinique and Dove. For example, Clinique’s EMV performance the past six months showed a huge spike in July, likely from the launch of its Purifying Cleansing Brush.

One possible explanation for the erratic performance of some of these brands is that on average, skin care brands generate the greatest buzz with product launches. Where color cosmetics brands are able to creatively re-brand namesake collections and products for seasonal initiatives or in response to cultural mo­ments, in reality, there are fewer opportunities for skin care brands to be innovative beyond the release of an entirely new product. In theory, this means that there are also naturally fewer opportuni­ties for them to engage with online communities. When looking at Tribe’s Top 10, this results in two patterns of earned media cre­ation. First, a brand experiences extreme highs with products releases (i.e. Clinique when it launched the Purifying Cleansing Brush), and extreme lows in the interim. Alternatively, the brand overall generates less earned media, but at a constant rate (Olay or Clarisonic). When Tribe compared the trending earned media performance of these brands to their past Top 10 Beauty Brands, skin care brands were by far more unstable and volatile with con­tent creation over time.

MARKET SEGMENT SECONDARY: Skin Care Brands Compete At Benefit Level

When it comes to brand positioning, being either mass or prestige is undeniably one element of what makes a brand unique and valuable in the eyes of consumers. These market segments hold powerful associations, both factual and emotional, that play heavily into consumer behavior. Market membership may in truth be a determining factor where the perceived benefits of two products are interchangeable.

That being said, just because a brand characterizes itself as mass or prestige does not mean it can disregard competitors outside of its own market segment. Especially within skin care, where brands are most often competing at the benefit level rather than the attribute level, brand positioning hinging upon market membership is insufficient. Brand loyalty is prev­alent and contingent upon product performance and results. Good luck convincing a loyal Neutrogena customer to abandon the toner that has been a part of her daily skin care routine for over 10 years, in favor of Clinique’s own toner. Looking around, the most successful brands in skin care are those that establish and com­municate clear solution-based points-of-difference (PODs), focused on product benefits and performance. Where the makeup consumer evaluates and compares options by specific at­tributes (the shade of matte red lipstick, the product’s packaging, the identity of a brand), the skin care consumer is first and foremost in search of a solution: i.e. an oil-free acne-treating moisturizer or an anti-aging overnight wrinkle cream that doubles as skin brightener. As a result, skincare consumers are more likely to overlook the market segment of a brand when it promises a compelling solution.

Tribe concluded that solution-based points of difference satisfy what Professor Kevin Lane Keller, E. B. Osborn Professor of Marketing at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, calls the three D’s: Desirable, Deliverable, Differentiation. September’s Top 10 Skincare Brands rely upon this criteria to give a widely available product or solution, a revitalized and innova­tive integrity, unique to their brand.

*This metric was based on the number of posts received (blog posts; YouTube videos; Tweets; Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest posts) and engagement rate (blog and video views; Instagram and Facebook likes; Twitter actions; shares; comments.)Tribe’s holistic approach assigns a specific dollar value to each respective form of content based on the perceived value of each to brands within the industry, as it pertains to establishing ongoing relationships with influencers. To see this report in its entirety, please click here.