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Searches for makeup hit a high in October as millions of people search for Halloween ideas and inspiration, but the pursuit of beauty never stops. From fall to summer, weddings to the holidays, people search for different things depending on the time of year. And they're looking in different ways—watching tutorials on YouTube and using smartphones to get product reviews in stores. Beauty brands such as L'Oreal are capturing this interest with seasonally and topically relevant content across platforms, explains L’Oreal USA CMO Marie Gulin-Merle.

BOO-ming interest in makeup for Halloween

Normally, we don't wear makeup to frighten people. Quite the opposite. But on Halloween, that's what many of us will be doing. According to a Google Consumer Survey conducted in August 2014, half of the people dressing up will need special makeup, and one in three had already started planning. This month, searches for makeup hit an all-time high as millions of people hunt for ideas.

Many are watching videos for inspiration. The top five makeup tutorials on YouTube right now are for Halloween-ready looks such as Barbie, Cinderella and Lady Gaga.

L'Oreal matches content to the moment

Halloween isn't the only "makeup holiday." "There's interest in makeup throughout the year, but different categories within makeup tend to pop up at specific times more than others," says L'Oreal USA CMO Marie Gulin-Merle. "We see interest in specific makeup looks around various holidays." Knowing when these trends pop up can help brands be more relevant than ever. "For L'Oreal Paris, so far the most popular content on [its YouTube channel] Destination Beauty is the content that's seasonally and topically relevant," she says, pointing to a successful collaboration with Aspyn Ovard around back-to-school season. More recently, Ovard and other influencers created a number of Halloween tutorials for the channel.

Coordination is key. "We align our search and media strategy, our social command centers and content production to ensure that we're serving and distributing content to match these seasons and moments in almost real time," explains Gulin-Merle.

Mobile is the new makeup counter

Of course, holidays aren't the only time we wear makeup. The search for beauty is constant and, increasingly, it's on mobile. In fact, more than half of all beauty and makeup searches on Google and YouTube come from mobile devices, as of August 2014. And contrary to popular belief, if shoppers are using a mobile phone in a store, they're probably not shopping around. According to Google research, people are primarily looking for product information and reviews while on the go. The Sephora to Go app is designed around this insight. It lets consumers search for product reviews, save their favorite products and pull up their loyalty card to scan at the register. Now, shoppers can even use their smartphone to try on makeup in a store. Rather than open up a tube of L'Oreal lipstick, they can open up L'Oreal's new MakeupGenius app to virtually sample shades.

Search and YouTube trends play a big part at the start of our strategy.

-L’Oreal USA CMO Marie Gulin-Merle

Beauty shoppers watch tutorials to stay on trend

Video is also a must-have beauty tool. There are millions of makeup-related searches on YouTube, and those searches are on the rise; we saw a 36% rise this summer year-over-year. Many people are looking for tutorials. "We find that consumers are always looking for help on how to get a look or how to tap into a new trend," says Gulin-Merle, "so simple, easy-to-follow tutorials are generally successful, particularly when they relate to a new trend or product." In fact, tutorials on makeup are viewed more than any other kind of tutorial on YouTube. Seventy percent of beauty purchasers said that YouTube videos, especially how-tos and product visualizations, influence what they decide to buy (TNS/Ogilvy/Google "Path to Purpose Research," May 2014).

To keep tabs on what's new throughout the year, Gulin-Merle's team has made data core to its marketing. "Search and YouTube trends play a big part at the start of our strategy," she says. "We look into how consumers search and what they are searching for. We look at these trends constantly as a good measure of consumer interest and intent."

L'Oreal also collaborates with influential creators on YouTube. "Working with YouTube influencers allows the brand to reach an elusive audience that's crucial to the growth of the business in a very authentic and credible way," says Gulin-Merle. Indeed, authenticity is the key. "We don't try to change the way the influencers communicate with their audiences—that's what makes them successful."