Trendy. Inclusive. Feel-good. We recently did a study about the beauty habits of online-savvy millennial Arab women to further understand how this Middle Eastern audience creates, consumes and engages with beauty content in particular. What we found proves that, in the Middle East, beauty is far more than just skin deep.
1. Arab women are defining a new beauty culture as both consumers and content creators
According to our data, today’s millennial woman looks beyond traditional beauty ideals to define her own attainable beauty expectations. While just a few years ago trends were dictated by the beauty industry, today anyone can be a beauty creator. As a result, millennial women are more exposed to an inclusive and relatable beauty spectrum that offers varying examples of what it means to be beautiful. With this in mind, vloggers represent a far more aspirational-yet-accessible identity, with their videos helping millennials to find and enhance their own authentic beauty.
Safa Srour is a content creator who talks beauty to a predominantly female audience of half a million subscribers. She also has a popular YouTube show with her husband, titled KhaledAndSafa, that passed the one-million subscriber mark in under two years and covers beauty as well as comedy, travel and lifestyle. With more ‘everyday’ people creating content on YouTube, millennial women are exposed to an inclusive and relatable beauty spectrum that offers varying examples of what it means to ‘beautiful’. Our insights reveal that millennials view YouTube celebrities as the icons, experts and faces of the beauty movement, with 70% saying they relate more to YouTube creators than traditional celebrities.
2. Millennial Arab women consume and create more inclusive content
We’ve seen a 75% growth in watch time of female-led content, with women not just consuming content but actively creating it too. The fastest growing female creators in the Arab world are from Saudi Arabia, with 77% of Saudi women saying they take care of their appearance, with personal-care products coming in at the top of their monthly purchases – higher than food, transport, and clothing.
Our research also revealed that when it comes to content, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Our insights show that YouTube’s beauty content creators really listen to their audiences and create content accordingly. This bottom-up approach ensures that content is more inclusive, relatable and attainable. This translates exceptionally well with YouTube’s audiences: beauty-related content has driven more than 1.9 billion views in KSA alone, with this figure growing 187% year-on-year. This growth is faster than anywhere else on the planet, with more Arabic content continuing to arrive on the platform.
For example, women in MENA are consuming more hijab-related content, such as videos associated with hijab and lifestyle, hijab and fashion, and hijab and cosmetics, and asking questions about how to wear and style the hijab. Data shows that hijab-related content has less to do with religious content and more to do with millennial women simply wanting to up their style game. Regional YouTube creators like Dalal Aldoub are responding to these requests with curated content that offers both answers and style solutions.
3. Arab women consume beauty content every day - and increasingly on mobile
Our data tells us that beauty is a year-long affair, with women consuming beauty content on YouTube every single day. Not only that, but the world of beauty is increasingly a mobile one, with 80% of views taking place on mobile. As a result, more viewers are taking YouTube into their bedrooms and bathrooms to follow make-up tutorials in real-time. This is reflected in a rise in views in the morning (when women are getting ready for their day), at lunchtime (when they touch up) and in the evening (before going out).
However, just because beauty consumption happens daily and on mobile platforms doesn’t mean it must be snackable: viewers are overwhelmingly seeking out long-form video content, with 46% of YouTube’s top beauty videos being between 5 to 10 minutes long, and longer videos leading to increased engagement.
4. Arab women visit YouTube for more than just beauty tutorials
Thanks to beauty tutorials - one of the first huge breakout categories on YouTube - women in MENA enjoy highly skilled make-up techniques previously reserved for professionals. In 2018, Maybelline, Benefit and Make Up For Ever raised the bar with web episodes that displayed high organic rates across complete series, including expert how-to tutorials. However, women visit YouTube for more than just tutorials today. YouTube’s full spectrum of beauty videos encompasses over 16 different categories, ranging from tutorials and DIY to comedy in which beauty plays a leading role. Our latest insights reveal that other categories are also on the rise, including tips, hacks, parody and comedy. Noor Stars is a particularly popular content creator whose videos always include a touch of humor.
Key Takeaways for Advertisers
Arab women still want to feel and look amazing, but the reasons they search for beauty content on YouTube has changed. The millennial Arab woman is looking to learn, be entertained, and break free from societal constraints. Not only are these women consuming daily content (with more views happening on mobile), but they’re also actively creating fresh-faced content with a focus on being honest, relatable, and inspiring others to be the best they can be.
Recognising that more people were visiting YouTube looking to learn through beauty tips and tutorials in MENA, in 2016 beauty brand Maybelline partnered with a content creator to launch Makyaj Wa Banat, a weekly YouTube beauty show. At the time, the show garnered more than 4 million views on the web series playlist with a watch time equivalent to 5 million minutes. Also, 70% of these views came from non-advertising sources, meaning that users came from YouTube’s suggested, search and featured videos to learn more about the web episodes. After Makyaj Wa Banat went live, subscribers to Maybelline NY’s YouTube channel increased 4-fold, with brand search growing by 10. The show is ongoing, with new seasons years later.
As YouTube creators gain more subscribers and viewership continues to rise across the Middle East, brands have a great opportunity to work with them to reach their dedicated target audience. Not only can they use Google data to understand which trends to leverage, but they can also create content – perhaps in partnership with creators, like Maybelline did – to help them reach new audiences and satisfy existing ones.