Beauty News

Michelle Phan – the most influential person in the cosmetic business


Who is the most influential person in the beauty world? Well I am working on it, but it isn’t me yet. It is hard to work this kind of thing out. I started considering job roles like the head of L’Oréal or the editor of Vogue. But without resorting to Google I don’t know their names off the top of my head. Surely the name of the most influential person in my line of business ought to be on the tip of my tongue?  When I framed it like that it occurred to me that all of us who make a living actually making and selling beauty products are not at all influential. We spend all our working hours trying to produce what the consumer wants.  

The people who are influential are the ones that have the biggest effect on what actually gets bought.  Traditionally this would have been the beauty editors of glossies.  But today most people get their information not from the printed page but from the Internet.

And where exactly do people go on the Internet?   Well beauty blogs get a lot of the attention, but the really massive format for beauty is YouTube.  I thought about the biggest names I know, and had a look at their YouTube stats.  (I didn’t need to resort to Google – these names were already in my head.)   The winner was pretty clear.  In terms of subscribers and big numbers of views for particular videos Michelle Phan won reasonably easily.  Given the random nature of the way YouTube and the web works generally, I suppose it is possible that there is somebody out there who is even more successful and of whom I haven’t heard.  So if you know of someone who can beat these stats, please let me know.  But Michelle’s numbers are impressive by any standard.

At time of writing, she has 3.5 million subscribers.  She has nearly 700 million video views in total.  Her biggest individual video has pulled in over 40 millions views – but she has several that are not far off that.  This is the sort of viewing levels that only top pop stars can be sure of beating.

Is there anything special about her videos?  Well they are very good.  Michelle herself has a very appealing presence on camera and she certainly has a way with makeup.  And she has taken full advantage of all the outlets that are available, so she has a website, Facebook page etc.  But to be honest there are plenty of others who might well have done just as well.  I think she was just in the right place at the right time.  I don’t think anyone could have done it, but quite a lot of people could have done.

But whatever, millions of people around the world are watching what Michelle Phan is doing and responding to it.  She didn’t go to university to get into that position.  She didn’t work her way up the corporate ladder.  She didn’t even sell all her possessions to invest in a risky scheme to make her dreams come true.  She just switched on a video camera and let her love of makeup do the rest.  That is the world we live in.

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She hardly needs any promotion from me, but here is Michelle Phan’s YouTube channel.  I put the link in mainly because I know a lot of people in the business will have never heard of her.

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