The 3 Steps A Brand Should Take With Influencer Marketing When Targeting A New Country

Disclaimer: Popular Chips does not collaborate or represent Milani Cosmetics in any way. The data provided in this report has been freely retrieved by publicly available content and does not contain any private/reserved/restricted information.

This month, 10 local influencers announced that LA-based beauty brand Milani Cosmetics has come to Singapore. These Instagram posts were part of a seeding campaign for @milanicosmetics_singapore, which now has 2.2K followers on Instagram, to promote the local launch as well as aggregate possible new faces for their brand. The contest is open to Singaporeans only and runs for slightly over a month. 

I found this campaign to be an interesting case study for a few reasons: 

  1. Examining the choice of local influencers to front the campaign reveals certain hits and misses when it comes to understanding the Singaporean beauty shopper’s journey. It also gives us an idea of whether the two key KPIs — engagement and cost per engagement — were successfully met
  2. To outline how global cosmetic brands adapt their strategies to suit local markets, in this case Singapore. The global brand account (@milanicosmetics) has 3.7 million followers on Instagram, and has collaborated with popular beauty influencers like @zacharyedward and @a1delatorre, who are also ambassadors for other large brands. How are they going to replicate that here?
  3. As a timely reflection on representation in the media, and what exactly an ‘inclusive brand’ or ‘inclusive campaign’ looks like. Beauty campaigns in a multiracial society like Singapore are difficult to carry out, so there is always something to be learnt.

First off, who are these 10 influencers? 

The most concise & time-effective way to determine the nature of an influencer is to look at their top posts, which reflects the kind of content their audience appreciates the most, and therefore the kind that will turn the highest ROI, as well as their collaborations, which shows you who they’ve worked with, and what their niche areas are

Macro Influencers 

1 – Sahur Saleim | @sahursart

Sahur is has the largest following of all the influencers, and also appears to be the best pick considering her niche — makeup & skincare. Majority of her top posts are makeup tutorials, either on herself or someone else, which shows that her audience appreciates this content the most, and also trusts her opinion on a topic like makeup. 

She has also collaborated with a number of other reputable makeup brands which further cements her role as a beauty influencer. This is good for Milani Cosmetics because they are working with her for a one-off seeding campaign and can leverage on the reputation she has built to direct her followers to their brand. 

Micro Influencers

2 – Rachel Wong | @rchlwngxx

While Rachel does not put out a lot of content related to beauty per se, the majority (86%) of her followers do seem to be interested in the topic and it also helps that close to 50% of her audience is female. Her top performing posts look like this: 

While there is a certain ~look~ about her posts, there is no clear focus on makeup. Additionally, most of her collaborations are with fashion brands like H&M and Uniqlo.

3 – Michelle | @mirchelley

Michelle is similar in a way to Rachel — while she does post the occasional makeup tutorial or makeup look, her followers appear to be more interested in her swimsuit/lingerie content. Her top performing posts reflect this pattern:

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If we look at her collaborations, however, we find that she has actually worked with a number of makeup brands. Although her makeup tutorial posts do not perform as well as these, she remains a trusted voice in the industry. 

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Thus, anything she says about makeup will likely be well-received and acted upon, which is precisely the goal for Milani. 

4 – Marcella Kikyanto | @querramellca

Marcella is known for creating artistic makeup looks that are not run-of-the-mill. She is also the first winner of the NYX Face Awards for Indonesia, which suggests her affinity to the industry. 

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She even has her own makeup line and has collaborated with a vast number of beauty brands including, but not limited to the ones below as well as Maybelline, Benefit, Urban Decay etc. 

5 – Sierra Lixing | @sierralixing

Unlike the other 4 influencers in this category, Sierra doesn’t conform to a niche. She is a regular feature on Ladies First TV (a part of Titan Media), and she collaborates most often with other influencers than brands.

Nano Influencers

We won’t go into the specifics of the nano influencers, but they are: @hashyyusof, @caxs, @sabrinamarican, @nataliayen, @camira.asrori.

An Examination of the KPIs

The two metrics we are interested in are engagement and cost per engagement, which suggest how well-received and how well budgeted the campaign was respectively. All in all, the campaign could have performed better, and let’s explore how. 

% Local Following 

The posts fell short of what the 10 influencers usually obtain by quite a significant amount. Additionally, the majority of the audience that was reached is not based in Singapore. 

For a campaign that focuses solely on the Singaporean market, 30% is a very small margin. This means that a lot of the influencers did not have many Singaporean followers. Let’s double check: 

The report records a total of 20.9K interactions that were received from this campaign so far, which amounts to 6.2K Singaporeans only. This means that the majority of the budget was spent on followers who cannot participate in the campaign, making the ratio of budget to conversion rate imbalanced. 

Cost per Engagement 

Considering this is a seeding campaign, I took the cost of working with each influencer to be equivalent to the total cost of the products sent to them

Here is Michelle’s flatlay of all the products which cost 132.85 USD in total (prices retrieved from milanicosmetics.com), and I rounded it up to 150 USD for ease. 

From this we can observe 3 outcomes: 

Sahur’s metrics are what the ideal result should look like — positive engagement and low CPE. Sierra was also a cost-effective influencer but did not bring as much engagement, and this is probably because beauty contests and tutorials are not what her followers are interested in (refer to her top posts and collaborations). Sahur’s niche is far more in line with what Milani Cosmetics is looking to do in this seeding campaign, while Rachel & Sierra do not have the same sort of brand affinity. In this sense, it doesn’t seem like the two main KPIs were met as successfully as they could have been. 

What can we learn from this? 

There are three main takeaways: 

  1. It is important to choose an influencer whose niche aligns with that of your brand. Audience size doesn’t matter if their content and their focus does not complement yours. 
  2. Micro influencers may cost less, but this is only a good trade off if the overall engagement is not more than 3% lower than an influencer’s usual performance. 
  3. The success of local campaigns is predicated on the percentage of local followers. None of the influencers picked for this campaign have more than 50% Singaporean followers, and some even have a majority following from a neighbouring country, which is ultimately ineffective.

Adapting Milani Cosmetics to a Local Market 

Global to local is never an easy transition. It requires an intimate understanding of how societies function, and who the local competitors are. In Singapore, a big part of successful campaigns, within and outside the beauty industry, is also predicated on whether a wide spectrum of influencers were hired. In this respect, I have to hand it to Milani — they tried to represent racial diversity as authentically as possible, which can often unwittingly come off as trite or forced. 

Taking into account factors like climate — Singapore being a very hot country — and marketing the products from that angle might have also given this campaign a better edge. All in all, it is about using what is important or relevant to a community and adapting it to fit one’s beauty campaign. 

I found this to be a very interesting campaign to track, and am looking forward to seeing the new faces that Milani will aggregate from their Instagram search.

Written by Deesha Menon

Influencer Marketing at Popular Chips. Interested in social issues, narratives, books, social media, and machine learning.

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