Are We Still Doing Influencer Trips in 2023? What Brands Can Learn From Tarte Cosmetics’ Mistake

Are We Still Doing Influencer Trips in 2023? What Brands Can Learn From Tarte Cosmetics’ Mistake

Are We Still Doing Influencer Trips in 2023? What Brands Can Learn From Tarte Cosmetics' Mistake
Are We Still Doing Influencer Trips in 2023? What Brands Can Learn From Tarte Cosmetics' Mistake
Romana Hai

Romana Hai

Romana Hai

Romana Hai

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In the world of beauty and influencer marketing, Tarte Cosmetics’ recent influencer trip to Dubai is all the rage right now.

If you haven’t heard, Tarte Cosmetics reportedly flew out an undisclosed number of influencers first class to an off-the-grid resort in Dubai. On the two-day trip, each influencer was given their own private villa jam-packed with goodies, ranging from all kinds of products from the Tarte collection to clothes and jewelry from participating brands.

From a brand and marketing perspective, the trip sounds like an absolute dream and one for the making. It’s the trip that thousands upon thousands will be talking about, especially with the influencer roster lineup, which includes TikTok stars Alix Earle, Monet McMichael and Meredith Duxbury.

Before the trip even began, these influencers started talking about it, quickly creating a buzz.

"Wasn't Alix Earle just doing a get-ready with me (GRWM) for her first day of class and now she's on a first-class flight to Dubai for Tarte Cosmetics?!"

What Gen Z has to say about it

While the majority of people have expressed happiness for the opportunities these influencers have received and explained that they, too, would say “yes” to such an opportunity, many have also questioned how out of touch the trip was/is, stating that influencer trips made them feel more distant from the creators they loved watching on social media.

For example, one TikToker expressed her original love for these creators and their ability to connect with their followers through these videos.

In these videos, these influencers are typically in a very normal (relateable) setting, wearing regular clothes, maybe even a bathrobe, hair up in a towel, doing their makeup, and talking directly into the camera as if you were in the room with them. The entire dynamic feels intimate and again… relatable. It’s also a major reason why TikTok star Alix Earle has shot to fame so quickly.

Remember Revolve influencer trips?

While Tarte might be all the buzz right now, it’s certainly not the first player that has benefitted from sponsoring influencer trips.

Since its founding in 2003, online fashion retailer, REVOLVE, has made a name for itself with millennial and Gen Z consumers thanks to its strong aesthetic, attention to curation, and substantial investments in influencer campaigns. 

Over the years, those investments have seemingly paid off. In October 2017, WWD reported that influencer campaigns drove over 70% of overall sales at Revolve.

Fast forward to the year 2023, the Tarte PR stunt feels outdated, out of touch, unrelatable, and seemingly distasteful, especially since consumers at large are experiencing economic difficulties. 

“It’s giving 2016 vibes,” said TikToker, Lauren Maize.

"I am giving the side eye to Tarte."

Maize pointed out that if Tarte were to conduct any layoffs, after potentially paying these influencers their required fees, covering the cost of their flights and their +1, hotel stay, and all the gifting and accommodations, the brand would experience major backlash.

What can brands learn from Tarte's latest excursion

At the end of the day, the goal of marketing campaigns is not just to create buzz but ultimately to drive sales.

Tarte could have still achieved the grand slam effect by recruiting all of the most talked about Gen Z influencers and sending them Tarte products, which they could then promote from the comfort of their own personal space. This would have enabled Tarte to move the needle in sales without alienating customers that buy its products.

TL;DR:

Stay relatable to your audience and your influencers’ audience. If your influencers have cultivated a following based on extravagance, sure, take them to Dubai, pay for everything, make sure their followers know, and wine and dine them.

If their followers look to their content for comfort and relatability, do what you can to remain authentic to that feeling. Staying true to what your influencers are known for comes off as thoughtful and well… AUTHENTIC. And that’s a formula that is more likely to build staying power and loyalty.

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