She started vlogging as an extension of her own professional beauty business, specialising in make-up. At first she just posted videos once a month, “to avoid explaining the same thing over and over again to her clients.”
The videos were a big hit, and as her audience soon extended beyond her own relatively small client base, Yong started to post more, finding that with the success of the videos, it was starting to take up more and more of her time.
Just over six months ago the You Tube star launched herself as a full-time beauty vlogger, and now her dedicated channel has an audience of over 1.3 million fans, who check in with her regularly to get reviews covering the latest, most innovative and often quirky beauty products.
Yong was at last week’s Cosme Tech and Cosme Tokyo exhibition in Japan, where she was scoping out some of the interesting new launches on offer at the event.
In the first part of this one-on-one interview, Yong explains about what it takes to become a beauty influencer, what her audience is all about, why beauty brands need her and how to remain relevant in the fast-paced beauty arena.
What are the defining elements to look for in the products that you review?
I always look for something that is a bit unusual. And I have to be one of the first ones to post about it. It can’t be a product that already has hundreds of reviews all over the internet.
Also, it has to be something quirky. In fact, I tend to see the most innovative products coming out of Korea or Japan, especially with masks these days, which is why I jumped at the opportunity to visit this event. I’m seeing that it’s not just straight forward masks, it’s innovations such as peel-off and foaming masks that are making this category so interesting.
Furthermore, it has to have that wow factor. It has to have the unique user experience that really makes it stand out from the ordinary.
And perhaps most importantly, it has to be something in budget, that’s of equal importance.
It’s also a good way for people to shop through my experience, because I’ll point out what is good about the product and what is not so good.
What’s the profile for your viewers and subscribers?
They are 92% female and most of them are from English-speaking countries – mainly the USA, as well as the UK and Australia, but also including Asian countries such as the Philippines and Indonesia.
The age range is about 18 – 34, this is the age when people are really looking for advise to help improve their beauty regimes and it is also a time when people are doing the most experimenting with different products.
How do you resonate with consumers? And what’s the key to maintaining their loyalty?
How I connect with the audience is because I’m also in that age range, so I want to try all of these products out for myself and the audience is in the same boat as me. I get that instant connection with the audience because it’s in real time and they really connect with me. And I’m really honest about it.
I think the difference between a celebrity endorsement and me is the fact that people know that celebrity is being paid to make that endorsement, so the product could be good or it could be bad. But with the You Tube platform, you develop a much closer relationship with the viewers and they end up seeing you as a friend because the trust is there and your opinion really counts.
Why do beauty brands need you?
I think beauty brands look at influencers as a whole. People see vloggers as a brand. They trust me over an advertisement because I am more verifiable.
And in fact, for me I am my brand, but I am also their friend. Girls in this age group would trust me to be honest about favouring a brand because they have built up that trust in me.
Also, instead of paying all that money in advertising, brands can use influencers to get the message out about their products. That gets the audience that you want, the specific niche, the age and the geographic region. Indeed, a lot of brands are now turning towards influencers because they see the power of it and the advantages over advertising.
If you work for the company, you are pretty much obligated to say the brand is good, but I don’t have that kind of commitment or working relationship with the brands.
How do you maintain your relevance in such a fast-paced and ever-changing market?
I think it’s because I’m always researching and always on the look-out for something news. It’s never-ending. The good thing about beauty is it’s always changing and evolving.
Makeup in particularly is very fast-paced and this is the area that gives me a lot of inspiration for my videos.
I do also spend a lot of the time on the internet, online shopping. This is because has to be a lot of research that goes into it my searches to find the type of products that my audience will like and will want to find out about, ultimately translating into those all-important clicks.
The second part of this interview will be published on Cosmetics Design Asia next week.