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TikTok Beauty Brands Pivot to YouTube Shorts Amid Platform's Uncertain Future

As TikTok's fate remains unclear amidst data privacy concerns and potential bans, beauty brands that found virality on the short-form video platform are diversifying their strategies. Many are now increasing investment in Youtube's Shorts feature as an alternative channel.

TikTok upended the beauty industry by allowing users to democratize trends and shift marketing power toward consumer-created content. "The 'unsexy' beauty conversation really took off organically on TikTok," said Sophia Pauline (@sophiappauline), a creator who kickstarted the popular hashtag showcasing unglamorous but effective products like @Nizoral shampoo and Dial antibacterial soap.

As this TikTok fixation illustrates, short-form video provided beauty companies an invaluable avenue to connect with Gen Z consumers researching skin care, makeup tutorials and product reviews. Now brands are hedging their bets on YouTube Shorts to maintain that connection.

"While Instagram Reels is more widely adopted by beauty brands currently, our data shows YouTube Shorts is seeing quiet but significant growth in both retention rate and overall views," said Bailey Jacobs, an analyst at Dash Hudson.

According to Dash Hudson's metrics, YouTube Shorts videos generate roughly one-third the views of TikToks and Reels on average. However, Shorts views have grown 24% over the past year as more brands experiment on the platform.

Korean beauty brand LANEIGE currently ranks as the top beauty brand on YouTube Shorts by total views at 42 million

Fellow K-beauty brand Glow Recipe is also investing more in YouTube Shorts as part of its diversification strategy. "We've seen our Shorts content organically take off, reaching a new audience segment that may not actively follow beauty videos but engages through YouTube's discovery," said Michelle Pongrachic, Glow Recipe's VP of Marketing.

As TikTok's future remains tenuous, adapting short-form video strategies to thrive on YouTube and Instagram will be crucial for beauty brands seeking to retain their virality and connections to digital-native consumers. Gently Beauty, a rising skincare brand, has already begun testing both Shorts and Reels campaigns.

The potential TikTok ban has creators and brands worried about the impacts, as Amanda Marcovitch reports for Forbes. "If TikTok gets banned it's going to impact all of us whether we're based in Europe or Africa," said content creator Jade Beason. She predicts an oversaturation on Instagram and YouTube as TikTok creators flood those platforms.

As this pivotal shift looms, beauty brands are proactively adapting. According to Marcovitch, E.L.F. BEAUTY is now investing more in Reels and Shorts after experiencing TikTok success. "We'll take that incredible muscle that we built and develop and go with it wherever our community wants to go next," said Kory Marchisotto , e.l.f's Chief Marketing Officer.

Milani Cosmetics is also exploring alternatives like Flip , a shopping platform for beauty reviews. "We can always pivot. Like any technology, there will always be something new to try," said Jeremy Lowenstein, Milani's CMO.

For the beauty industry propelled by TikTok's explosive success, this preemptive pivot to alternative short-form video apps could unlock new frontiers for influencer marketing and consumer connections. However, the potential TikTok ban raises broader concerns about the creator economy. 

Marcovitch notes the potential ban also raises concerns beyond just content creation. "For many, the idea that all this could be taken away feels like a betrayal of the values that made [TikTok] such an important part of the creator economy," she writes, citing a petition started by August co-founder Nadya O. arguing the ban would "stifle free speech, creative expression, and economic opportunity."

As beauty creators like disability rights activist Imani Barbarin have built communities and income streams on TikTok, the risk of volatility is sparking brands and influencers alike to diversify their strategies across multiple short-form video platforms.

"Short-form video allows us an opportunity to educate customers on our brand philosophy and product benefits in a highly consumable way," said Jake Williams, Head of Marketing at Gently Beauty. "While TikTok was transformative, diversifying across multiple platforms is now essential."

With the risks of platform volatility, brands and creators may need to further diversify strategies across multiple short-form video apps to protect their marketing initiatives and audience connections.

For an industry propelled by TikTok's explosive growth, this pivot could unlock new frontiers for beauty marketing in the short-form landscape.

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