Zara Hussain, Data Analyst at WGSN, shares how WGSN uses social media data and influencer mapping to predict beauty trends.
Q: What do you do at WGSN?
My role at WGSN is to use data, including Social but also retail Shelf, Search, Shows and Sentiment, to explore and understand trends and consumer behaviours. I look for what’s growing or declining and delve into the products and people behind it.
Q: What role does social media data play in the trend forecasting process?
On social media we look at how emerging ideas are developing by measuring how much a conversation has grown over time and which topics/groups are driving it. When combined with the expertise of our strategists and viewed in context with our other data sources, we can build a picture of a trend, such as where it’s going and how it can be actioned.
It also gives us a window into what’s happening now. For example, the cost-of-living crisis is at the top of everyone’s agenda at the moment and we can see the different ways that brands are using social media to communicate their pricing changes to consumers.
Q: What is influencer mapping?
We apply WGSN’s deep industry expertise to curate and track a global sample of social media users who are relevant to the industry. For beauty, this could be dermatologists, influencers, skincare brands or make-up artists. We then map them according to how early they adopt new trends. This sample of users is called the WGSN Influencer Map, which gives us insight into how trends and ideas are being actioned across the board.
The global nature of the Influencer Map is useful as trends manifest differently in different regions. In our anti-ageing report, we saw that social media users from APAC were almost consistently on top of the conversation. When it comes to ageing well, you can expect a more well-informed consumer in that region.
Q: How does social media data and influencer mapping help you predict beauty trends?
An advantage of mapping influencers according to how quickly they adopt trends is the insight it gives us on the timing of a trend.
The most innovative group we track (the Innovators) are a useful source of early signals for emerging trends as they are the first to adopt a new idea or elevate it. They often drive the sustainability conversation in a category and are the first to champion powerful new ingredients. We can learn a lot about what’s to come by tracking their momentum.
On the opposite end of the spectrum are the Mainstreamers. Just because Innovators are driving something new and exciting, it doesn’t mean a Mainstreamer is ready for it – but we know it’s on the way and needs to become more accessible and affordable before it reaches them.
Q: What’s an interesting trend you’ve uncovered from social media data?
In our Beauty report WGSN TrendCurve: From Lipstick to Lip Care – What's Next for Lips?, we compared the skincare side of lips (lip care) to the make-up side of lips (lip cosmetics and lipstick). We found lipstick and lip cosmetics were once king, but are on equal footing with lip care today.
When looking at the products driving these numbers, we find the lines between these categories blurred. It’s evidence of one of the most pervasive trends in beauty at the moment – the hybridisation of skincare and cosmetics. It’s no longer enough for a product to make you look good, it needs to be good for your skin and body, too.
Q: How can beauty brands use WGSN social media data to plan ahead for their next product launch?
Social media data helps us organise priorities and quantify the trends we are observing. Recently we’ve observed momentum around some popular concepts slowing down, while discussions around cost and inflation are emerging. What are consumers turning to during the cost-of-living crisis? We can measure that and find out.
For more information on our data-driven forecasting, please visit our website or request a demo here.