March’s earned media reflected the prevalent sentiment felt by the modern beauty consumer: they want “more” from their interactions with brands, according to Tribe Dynamics’ March La Mode Top 10 report.

The evolution of the brand-consumer relationship means that brands are being evaluated against an entirely new criteria of demands. The brands who have risen to the challenge have established meaningful relationships characterized by two primary approaches: emotional connections and sharing of expertise.

These concepts are mutually reinforcing when it comes to constructing a rich brand personality with both human sentiment and specialized knowledge. The goal of all influencer marketing activities should be to share the brand’s narrative through intimate experiences designed for personal resonance and empowering the individual with education.

The steady rise of NYX Cosmetics, alongside the growth of brands like Make Up For Ever, is owed to the elasticity of abstract brand elements that fuel these kinds of meaningful connections. Specifically, these brands have used their association with professional artistry to provide holistic experiences to aspiring influencers that both elevate and educate. Adapting those characteristics and values with resonance amongst professional artists to widely accessible experiences on social media has helped position these brands as nurturing industry experts, whose core focus is transferring professional knowledge to the everyday beauty enthusiast. Here, the Top 10 cosmetics brands in March.

1. MAC $29,089,171


3. NYX $13,338,774
4. TOO FACED $12,192,409

5. NARS $12,137,090

6. L’OREAL PARIS $10,554,238
7. MAKE UP FOREVER $10,444,891

8. MAYBELLINE $8,285,585
9. URBAN DECAY $8,234,936
10. KAT VON D $7,815,015

Make Up For Ever Benefits From Brand Elasticity

Even though the brand’s name was misspelled or misused by influencers about a third of the time, Make Up For Ever’s burgeoning awareness among everyday beauty consumers guaranteed its inclusion in Tribe’s March La Mode Top 10.

Traditionally, the brand has excelled with professional makeup artist content creators, responsible for much of the brand’s high-engagement content. However, the brand’s performance in March tells a different story. Both aspiring YouTube vloggers and Sephora-addicts contributed significantly to the brand’s $10.4M in EMV for the month.

The brand’s growing foothold in both the professional and consumer communities was highlighted by the contrast in content created on Instagram by professionals versus that on YouTube by vloggers.

On YouTube, the brand’s “High Definition Foundation” was a clear favorite among non-professional enthusiasts. The product was frequently featured in Sephora haul videos, living up to its 13,468 reviews and 130K “loves” on the retailer’s website recorded at the time this report was written. There was greater variance in the style and tone of this content: Vloggers ranged from more mature influencers creating heavily made up looks, to those who were younger and incorporated the brand into upbeat tutorials for teen-appropriate makeup looks.

By contrast, Instagram content captured the brand’s professional roots as professional artists published photos showcasing newly released products like the “Skin Equalizer” primer. Instagram posts shared behind-the-scenes experiences of makeup artists engrossed in their work. The overwhelming engagement with professional promotion of the product on Instagram signifies the increasing appeal of professional imagery to modern consumers, whose interests extend beyond a product level to the sense of pride felt from learning and mastering techniques.

The professional imagery that characterized this content reinforced Make Up For Ever’s association with excellence in artistry within an easily-digestible social medium. The behind-the-scenes look at the life of a professional made sense of the brand’s identity in a way that was relatable to a larger audience. In the past, brand positioning pivoted around professional artistry would have alienated a significant portion of general consumers. However, Make Up For Ever’s rising influence highlights how new social touchpoints like Instagram provide an intimate brand experience that implicates the individual in brand stories that might otherwise be unrelatable.

NYX Cosmetics Cast as an Affordable Alternative on YouTube

Tribe has discussed in the past how NYX Cosmetics benefits from its aesthetic association with prestige brands, specifically MAC, Anastasia Beverly Hills, and more recently, Kat Von D. Over time, consumer associations of NYX’s style and personality with these prestige brands have translated into its unmatched inclusion in user-generated content alongside these top brands. Points-of-parity have catapulted NYX to a reserved spot amongst the top five on Tribe’s La Mode list, with social influence that has yet to be achieved by any other mass market brand.

Each day, NYX becomes further established in this inner circle of well-respected brands. At a more affordable price-point, NYX is overwhelmingly recognized by the influencer community as the go-to brand for alternatives to trending prestige products. NYX was by far the most frequently featured mass-market brand in YouTube videos, as demonstrated by its $7.8M in EMV for the channel alone in March. The brand was also a winner amongst tutorials specifically geared towards helping followers find inexpensive alternatives to iconic prestige products like MAC’s Longwear Foundation or Anastasia’s Liquid Lipstick.

In March, the brand’s lip products were endorsed more than any other product type; its Matte Lipstick and Soft Matte Lip Cream directly compared to cult favorites like Kat Von D’s “Lolita” shade in lipstick and lipgloss. Influencers with drastically different tastes and audiences creating content about the brand on YouTube pointed to the brand’s cross-segment wide appeal. The brand is being positioned by NYX loyalists in both segments as a leader in conversations surrounding the hottest lip trends, like the revival of 90’s lipliner and fuller, pouty lips inspired by Kylie Jenner.

NYX’s success on YouTube is even more interesting viewed alongside Anastasia’s relative under-performance on the channel. On Instagram, the latter’s new Liquid Lipstick has become a favorite amongst prominent influencers featuring these same trends. However, the brand has yet to produce equivalent EMV on YouTube or mobilize mid-tier influencers creating video content for the everyday beauty enthusiast. Discrepancies in performance between these two aesthetically similar brands suggest something about the nature of each brand’s relationships with influencers. NYX’s brand resonance is intensely felt by die-hard fans campaigning for the brand online, while Anastasia’s sweeping brand awareness implicates a broader salience and recognition tied to product categories and trends.

NARS Benefits from Pinterest as a Shopping Portal

NARS finished second on Pinterest with a commanding performance fueled by both popular lifestyle influencers leading conversations on the channel, as well as retailers like Sephora and Nordstrom. Over the past six months or so, content on Pinterest has seen increased engagement rates as more and more consumers adopt the channel as their primary tool for product discovery.

Content created about the brand followed the same pattern: product image, brief description, and a shoppable link to a retailer. The top 10 Pinterest posts in EMV created about NARS featured a variety of products, from nail lacquer in trending new shades to new products like the brand’s “Multi-Purpose Stick” and “Blush, Contour, Lip Palette.” Of these 10, five posts were published by Sephora and one by Nordstrom. The other posts came from influencers who have built substantial followings on Pinterest specifically, like Sugandha Singh (3.4M followers) and Alexandra Evjen (9.5K followers).

NARS was also a favorite on collaborative boards, shared and followed by a diverse group of content creators. Its inclusion on these boards demonstrates the substantial awareness for its brand as a prominent player in conversations related to beauty, fashion, and style more generally. Given Pinterest’s new launch of “buyable pins,” the breadth of brand recognition for NARS on the channel will prove to be incredibly valuable if Pinterest successfully transitions into a legitimate mediator between consumers and retailers.

Trending Overall Earned Media Performance, EMV

Make Up For Ever showed by far the greatest improvement over q1 of 2015. Between January and March the brand experienced an approximate 51% increase in overall EMV thanks to its growing community of active and engaged consumers. Anastasia continues to be a leader in earned media performance, however it’s month over month growth may be less drastic than in the past. The decline in Anastasia’s EMV is due to a slight adjustment of the value attributed to individual Instagram posts based on exceptional engagement metrics for the channel. With Instagram posts easily reaching 20K – 40K likes on average, the value of a single like although valuable, should have relatively small impact on overall EMV. Anastasia’s strong performance on Instagram despite this adjustment speaks to the incredible awareness for its brand on the channel.

New Product Performance

The following data represents the approximate value of the earned media driven by a recently released product for each of the La Mode Top 10 brands for March.

1. Liquid Lipstick (Anastasia Beverly Hills): $4,442,894
2. Cinderella Collection (MAC Cosmetics): $1,655,169
3. Studded-Kiss Lipstick in Lolita (Kat Von D): $758,125
4. Fit Me Dewey + Smooth Foundation (Maybelline): $576,372
5. Eyeshadow Primer Potion (Urban Decay): $530,660
6. Soft Matte Lip Cream (NYX Cosmetics): $478,105
7. Melted Metal (Too Faced): $473,400
8. Dual-Intensity Blush (NARS Cosmetics): $321,090
9. La Palette Nude (L’Oréal Paris): $191,415
10. Equalizer (Make Up For Ever): $164,715

To access Tribe Dynamic’s full February cosmetics report, please click here.