Examining the credibility of the YouTube beauty community in relation to product endorsement
Literature Review and Research on the effect the YouTube beauty community has on people’s spending habits
YouTube is a fast growing user-generated content platform. What was once a YouTube cult phenomenon and is now becoming an absolute mainstream (Neary, 2006; Jones, 2010). Due to its rapid growth, YouTube community quickly broke down into subgroups, one of which is a beauty community. It was quickly noted, by both small and large beauty related companies, and today beauty gurus on YouTube collaborate with different make-up manufactures and promote their products. .
Due to the fact that YouTube is so fastgrowing and trends change daily, especially in the beauty community, it comesas a great obstacle for brands to stay relevant. Hence, it is crucial to facethe occurrences that happen in the beauty world on this platform and for brandsto become more long-term involved by using limited financial resources.
Problem and Purpose of study
Nowadays people use YouTube as alegitimate source of information, for example when it comes to baking a cake,learning a new language or mastering a dance move, but in most cases, viewersgo on YouTube in hopes to be entertained. YouTubers are using that to theiradvantage by monetizing their content and making a living off of that. Giventhat, are YouTubers sharing their honest, unbiased opinions through theircontent, or are there financial motives that affect their actions once theirchannel starts to expand and gain a larger number of subscribers and loyalviewers?
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The argument here is that on one hand, brand deals and endorsements on top of a high view count per video is a proof of success on YouTube since businesses find them influential enough to invest in them to promote their products, but on the other hand, the more atheistical viewer may deem to be a biased opinion which would lead to a drop in trustworthiness.
The problem here is that a lot ofresearch has been done to determine how much YouTube affects the brand, but notenough on how the brands affects the YouTuber. It’s a fast growing platformthat can make or break a business and I am curious as to how the beautycommunity on YouTube can influence the potential customer’s perspective. Inorder to find this out I will expand my knowledge on the topic via literaturereview, and then undertake a data research project developing a survey on 10subjects on a topic of how the beauty community has influences their purchasesand their experience
This study aims to analyze how brand deals and promotional statements affect the image and trustworthiness of YouTubers.
YouTube has developed a high influence amongst socialmedia platforms. In comparison to Facebook and Twitter, user-generated contentfrom YouTube creators seem to be much more successful in promoting and brandingproducts, especially within the beauty community. (Fischer, Smith, &Yongjian, 2012).
Social media marketing has become a staple inbusiness branding worldwide. Companies such as Estée Lauder, MAC cosmetics,Clinique, L’Oreal, Maybelline, and CoverGirl use social media, especiallyYouTube, as a means of engaging with or interacting with their current andpotential consumers. (Shen and Bissell, 2013; Faulds & Mangold, 2009).
Consumer-generated advertising, or as it is also referred toconsumer-created brand messaging has become an incredible phenomenon that inthe business world is known to help reach the consumer directly and establish atrusted and loyal relationship. (Ertimur & Gilly, 2011). Although it hasproven to be successful on YouTube, it has ups and downs due to it’s authenticnature. According to Thomaselli (2010), the more involved the company is in theway the YouTube creators present their content, the less credible andtrustworthy the creator’s opinion is perceived. Therefore, in order to maximizethe trustworthiness of the creator’s opinion on the product the author shouldbe given freedom to speak their true and honest opinion, weather it may portraythe brand in good or in bad light.
A good example of this is Tati, a famous beauty guru withinthe YouTube community currently has over 2,500,000 subscribers and her videosreach up to 1,000,000 views each. Although Tati does not get directly paid tomake a video about company’s product, she does receive multiple promotionalpackages and free product samples to talk about. It is well known that Tatialways gives an honest opinion on her product reviews on the “FirstImpressions” and “OMG!!!” videos, and you can see a good balance of thepositive and negative reviews on her YouTube channel. (YouTube, 2017)
“People are using YouTube not only forentertainment, but also as an alternative source of instruction. Consequently,YouTubers are blurring the lines between ordinary people and media people, andare being sought after as brand endorsers, similar to how celebrities aretreated” (Tolson, 2010, p. 278) Similarly to the traditional celebrities, socialmedia content creators seem to have similar effects on the product marketing:increasing consumer attention towards the marketed product, heightened brandrecognition and generation of more positive word-of-mouth response (Carrillat,2013). In spite of the customer being sceptical when it comes to purchasing aproduct without initially testing it out for themselves (Calfee & Ringold,1994), they are still more likely to look for a familiar product, or the product theyhave previously heard of, in the store rather than, for something they do notinstantly recognize.
Subscriber base and Viewership
It seems as though normally a subscriber base and viewershipin the YouTube community not only determined your success, but also describeshow greatly the consumer-generated advertising could reach the potentialcustomer. (Lieber, 2014) Due to a unique YouTube algorithm, the website isdesigned to highlight recommended videos that include videos by the creatorsyou view on regular basis, videos that feature similar products, or trendingvideos across the world. (Tubefilter, 2017). This algorithm usually leads tomore popular YouTube creators becoming more popular and their influenceincrease.
A contradictory example of this is Jeffree Star (YouTube, 2017), who is a very controversial beauty guru who has a verylarge subscriber base of over 4,000,000 people (YouTube, 2017). In spite of thehigh following, controversial creators such as Jeffree Star, tend to have lesssuccess promoting products. As Miller (2010) correctly suggests: number of views can be controversial in theYouTube arena, especially when it seems to be the most sought-after measure ofsuccess. (YouTube, 2017)
Although for the company, viewership and subscriber base are showing stability and active interest of the customer, it is not only the big content creators making the news. Heidi Hamoud (YouTube, 2017), having a incomparably smaller following that Jeffree Star, has better trust with her audience than he does. According to SlateScore, YouTubers with higher subscriber base and viewership are making $1,300 to $54,000 per month via YouTube’s Partner program, and that’s not including any brand endorsements the YouTube creators secure (Ives, 2015). So from the customer’s perspective the smaller YouTubers are more genuine in their videos as they are not doing this as a part of their full-time job, and rather as a hobby (Keen, 2011).
Source Credibility Theory
OriginallyOhanian (1990) found that having celebrities promote the product encouragescustomer’s trust in the rand and product. Furthermore, Miller (1989) suggestedthat using spokes people closely related to the product being presents and thetarget audience, will help persuade the customer the trustworthiness of thebrand.
The source credibility theory created by Ohanianin 1991 helps answer why us, customers tend to trust a more relatable sourceover the one e don’t feel a personal connection with. IMG 1.The source credibility theory model.
The source credibility theory model presents us withcriteria, which customers unconsciously consider when selecting a trustworthybrand ambassador (Ohanian, 1991). These criteria include:trustworthiness as a person and a content creator, expertise about the productpresented, and physical attractiveness. The higher the customer rates the brandambassador, in our case – YouTuber, the more likely they are to buy the productfeatured.
Source credibility was studied by researchers sincethe early 1960s, with quantifiable measures such as safety, qualification,dynamism, expertise, attractiveness, trustworthiness, likeability, objectivityand more. It was later noted by Ohanian (1990) that there were inconsistenciesin the quantifiable measures of source credibility and started a study thatdeveloping source credibility theory – a reliable tri-component model thatdetermines believability of the brand ambassador.
Trustworthiness is “the listener’s degree ofconfidence in, and level of acceptance of, the speaker and the message”(Ohanian, 1990, p. 41). Several studies have shown direct correlasion oftrustworthiness with persuasion and the effectiveness of the message inquestion. Study by Miller and Baseheart (1969) proved “that the moretrustworthy a communicator is, the more convincing their opinion will be to thereceiver of that message.” Trustworthiness signifies transparency, honesty and integrityand a considerable part of that revolves around the likeability of theinfluencer.
Expertise isthe “basis of credibility of a person who is perceived to be knowledgeable inan area or topic due to his or her study, training, or experience in thesubject matter.” (BusinessDictionary.com, 2017). Rossargues that the more compelling an ambassador is, the more likely the receiverof the message will be to act in accordance with their belief. The theoryargues that influencers are thought of as experts who are very well informed inevery aspect, in this case the beauty field and how potential customers aremore likely to take their word as a relevant means of information because ofthe fact that they trust their judgement enough, even though in many cases,highly credible sources are ineffective.
Attractivenessis the quality of being sexually alluring or visually appealing by possessingfeatures that arouse interest. (Vocabulary.com,2017). On top of that, people who areperceived as attractive tend to create a more positive impact on others,therefore they are more likely to influence an audience to purchase a productthey are endorsing. The beauty industry is heavily revolved around aestheticsand appearance so naturally, an attractive video producer will be deemed morecredible.
Conclusion of literature review
Through the literature review, the conclusion is thatYouTube, especially the beauty community on the platform, has the power toinfluence its viewers. The extent of the influence can vary depending on thecreator’s personality, transparency and charisma.
Hypothesis based on lit review
On the basis of this research, I can predict that theYouTube beauty community has high credibility within product endorsement.
Rather thanfocusing on collecting statistically accurate data, this research paperemphasizes on exploratory research in order to gain ideas and insights aboutpotential outcomes. This will help define the credibility of Youtubers byasking open-ended questions, in which case the answers will not bestatistically measurable, but will provide more in depth, quality data aboutthe topic which can later lead the discovery of new initiatives orproblems that should be addressed. (Wyse, 2017) (Team, 2017)
Since most ofthe data collection is exploratory, the research method used primarily will bequalitative research, which is used to gain an understanding of underlyingreasons, motives and motivations why YouTubers gain their credibility and howthey influence their audiences.
On the otherhand, quantitative research is more of a derivative of qualitative research butis mostly used to quantify the problem by turning yes/no answers into useablestatistics. Furthermore it can quantify behaviours, attitudes, opinions andother defined variables and make up generalisations based on answers thattarget larger audiences. On top of that, quantitative research uses the yes orno type of answers as measurable data in order to discover patterns, whichhelps make up the structure of the paper.
I believe that the best way to undertake this study is tocreate a questionnaire and have 10 people answer a range of qualitative andquantitative questions. This seems to be a realistic research method due to lowfunding of the research and a very limited timeline. In addition to the above, I believe this isthe best way to confirm my hypothesis.
As an alternative method, an observation technique wassuggested, however I believe it is inappropriate for the suggested study. Observation,in these particular circumstances, has a no set timeline, and would cause to beinefficient and time consuming, with little data to analyse as the result ofthe study.
As for my study population, the perfect candidate would fitthe following criteria:
18 – 25 years old
- Target research group is easily accessiblewithin my location
- There are no legal complications associated withthis age group
- Some of the YouTube creator’s target audiencemight be outside the stated age group
- Some of the YouTube creator’s viewers may beoutside of the stated age group
High familiarity with YouTube
- Some people are more familiar with social media than others, and since all the research is based around very specific questions about YouTube as a platform, there is no reason to survey people who aren’t familiar with it.
- Some people may be familiar with YouTube as a platform but not with actual YouTube creators, in which case they might not meet the target audience criteria.
- Some people may be familiar with a different Youtube community, such as the gaming one, but not with the beauty field, which might not meet the target audience criteria
- Major target audience for make up distributors and marketing agents
- Statistically, women spend a higher amount of money on make up than men
- May exclude some men that use make up and have a strong opinion on the researched topic
- It is discriminatory and could spark sexist remarks.
- More accessible to gather research within the University of Greenwich.
- Greenwich is a landmark in London which attracts visitors from all over the world that can represent a more diverse demographicTargets a niche area.
- May still overall limit the area covered by thequestionnaire
I have decided to use stratified sampling as my samplingtechnique. In order to make sure that my study population meets the rightcategories listed above, I would need to specify a random group of people, andthen choose an appropriate candidates within this random group of people.img source: (Bexcellence.org, 2017) sampling strategies
Pros and Cons of Stratified sampling
- we have certain target people we want toquestion, therefore it would save time to exclude the people we are notinterested in questioning prior to the questioning
- Reduce bias
- Provides more precision by being more evenlyspread out over the population;
- Improves the portrayal of particular groups
- there may be people who’s opinion could bevaluable who don’t fit the set guidelines. (Dissertation.laerd.com,2017)
DATA Collection method:
- Randomly select a class within university
- Select girls from that class
- Make sure they meet the study populationrequirements (view above)
- Present them with consent form – view in theappendices #1
- Present with the questionnaire – explain yourstudy topic and your reasons for choosing this topic and walk them through thequestions.
- Collect finished questionnaire
Analysis of the research method and conclusion
In this study 10 people have answered the questionnaire andthe results are the following: (refer to next page for gathered data)
1. Do you watch any Youtube creators, such as Pewdiepie, Nikkie Tutorials, Jenna Marbles, etc?
Out of all the people questioned, 9/10 answered “yes”. It is believed that the reason for this may lie withing the flawed research tactic. It is plausible that during the selection of subjects we have misjudged the familiarity of the subjects with YouTube.
This purpose of this question wa to determine how suitablethe candidate was to undertake the survey and how valid their further answerswould be. Since the subject’s answer was negative, we can determine that thecandidate does not have enough knowledge of the platform, therefore none of thefurther answers of the subject will be considered as part of the research.
2. Did you ever buy a product they recommended in any of their videos?
Unexpectedly, all 9/9 subjects confirmedthat the have previously purchased a product recommended by the content creatorin the video.
This does not necessarily mean that 100%of the people who watch the beauty community’s videos buy products recommendedby their influencers. Since we have quite a small percentage of the populationcompleting our survey, the outcomes of the study may not necessarily translateto the full population.
3. Did the product meet your expectations?
5/9 people have been satisfied with purchase of the product recommended bythe beauty guru. Since it is over 50% of the test subjects who are satisfiedwith the purchase we can suggest the trustworthiness of the beauty influencerson Youtube is mostly positive.
4. Did you ever use a discount code that a Youtuber promoted in one of their videos to get money off a purchase?
The subjects who answered “yes” for theprevious question:
4/5 were satisfied, out of which 3seemed very familiar with the products purchased and the beauty gurusthemselves, whilst the 4th one was not keen. There was a singleperson not satisfied with the purchase recommended by a highly-rated Youtuber.Overall the people who purchased the products are overwhelmingly content withtheir goods. There were 2 people who did not buy anything recommended byinfluencers for different reasons, for example subject number 6 had adissatisfactory experience with customer service.
In order to come to a scientificconclusion, more data is required.
5. Do you find yourself more likely to purchase a product your favourite creator uses or supports?
3/5 people answered “no” whilst the rest of the subjects decided thequestion was non-applicable. In contradiction to the literature review thatsuggest the fact that people are more likely to purchase goods they have heardof on social media, we can state that our subjects believe that Youtube beautycommunity does not affect their spending habits. More information is requiredto draw a scientific conclusion.
6. Do you find it unreliable if a Youtuber promotes a product by a brand they are sponsored by?
8/9 people agree with the statementabove, confirming our theory that the more involved the company is in the way theYouTube creators present their content, the less credible and trustworthy thecreator’s opinion is perceived.
7. Do you trust your favourite Youtubers’ opinion on products they like or dislike?
6/9 do not trust the recommendation ofthe beauty community. As mentioned in the literature review, people areskeptical and traditional in their purchase choices and they want to test outthe quality of the product for themselves.
8. Do you think Youtubers being sponsored by different brands is acceptable as long as they disclose their relationship with that brand?
8/9 people believe it is perfectly finefor companies to sponsor beauty gurus as long as it is disclosed. Therefore wecan conclude based on the presented data that subjects are happy to receivesponsored content as long as they are warned about the potential bias in thecontent.
9. Do you think YouTubers being sponsored by different brands is not acceptable when they don’t disclose their relationship with that brand?
6/9 believe it Is not acceptable, somementioned it is considered to be “lying by omission”. In contradiction to theliterature review, trustworthiness means transparency, however 3/9 of thesubject believe that it is not necessarily true.
10. Do you think the ad revenue from advertisements placed before and during a youtube video goes to the video producer or youtube?
5/9 state that the revenue goes to thevideo producer, confirming the extended knowledge of the Youtube algorithm. Therest either answered “both” or “Youtube”, undermining their knowledge ofYoutube algorithm and potentially sabotaging the validity of the answers givenby the subjects in the questionnaire.
Conclusion of data analysis
From the data analysis we can draw the conclusionthat our initial hypothesis was correct and that the Youtube beauty communityhas high credibility within product endorsement and can to an extent influenceits viewers spending habits, depending on the creator’s personality,transparency and charisma.
Figure 1: DATA ANALYSIS RESULTS
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- Lieber, C. (2014, May 22). Clicks, likes, cash: How YouTube beauty stars threw the industry for a loop. Retrieved from http://racked.com/archives/2014/05/22/youtube-beauty-stars.php
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Appendices 1 – Questionnaire example
- Do you watch any Youtube creators, such as Pewdiepie, Nikkie Tutorials, Jenna Marbles, etc?
- Did you ever buy a product they recommended in any of their videos?
- Did the product meet your expectations?
- Did you ever use a discount code that a Youtuber promoted in one of their videos to get money off a purchase?
- Do you find yourself more likely to purchase a product your favourite creator uses or supports?
- Do you find it unreliable if a Youtuber promotes a product by a brand they are sponsored by?
- Do you trust your favourite Youtubers’ opinion on products they like or dislike?
- Do you think Youtubers being sponsored by different brands is acceptable as long as they disclose their relationship with that brand?
- Do you think YouTubers being sponsored by different brands is not acceptable when they don’t disclose their relationship with that brand?
- Do you think the ad revenue from advertisements placed before and during a youtube video goes to the video producer or youtube?
Appendices 2 – Information and consent form
Examining the credibility ofthe YouTube beauty community in relation to product endorsement
I am carrying out a research studyfor my coursework. The purpose of thestudy is to analyse “Credibility of beauty gurus on YouTube”. Your participation will consist of:
- Individual interview, lasting approximately 10 minutes, which will be recorded for analysis. All the information will be confidential and will be deleted after analysis. All references and quotes used in the coursework will be anonymous.
If you want further informationabout the coursework, you can contact the module organiser.
Examiningthe credibility of the YouTube beauty community in relation to productendorsement
INFORMED CONSENT FORM
The purpose and details of this study have been explained tome. I understand that this study isdesigned to further scientific knowledge and that all procedures have beenapproved by the University, Ethical Approvals (Human Participants) Sub-Committee.
I have read and understood the information sheet and thisconsent form.
I have had an opportunity to ask questions about myparticipation.
I understand that I am under no obligation to take part inthe study.
I understand that I have the right to withdraw from thisstudy at any stage for any reason, and that I will not be required to explainmy reasons for withdrawing.
I understand that all the information I provide will be treated instrict confidence andwill be kept anonymous and confidential to the researchers unless (under thestatutory obligations of the agencies which the researchers areworking with), it is judged that confidentiality will have to be breached forthe safety of the participant or others.
I agree to participate in this study.
Signature of investigator