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How An Unusual YouTube Partnership is Disrupting an Entire Industry

5 MINUTE READ | November 1, 2019

How An Unusual YouTube Partnership is Disrupting an Entire Industry

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Abby Long

Abby is PMG’s senior managing editor, where she leads the company’s editorial program and manages the PMG Blog and Insights Hub. As a writer, editor, and marketing communications strategist with nearly a decade of experience, Abby's work in showcasing PMG’s unique expertise through POVs, research reports, and thought leadership regularly informs business strategy and media investments for some of the most iconic brands in the world. Named among the AAF Dallas 32 Under 32, her expertise in advertising, media strategy, and consumer trends has been featured in Ad Age, Business Insider, and Digiday.

Jeffree Star x Shane Dawson

In a few hours, the Internet will break. Not literally in the sense of a blackout, but culturally in that online conversation will likely be dominated by one singular event throughout the weekend. YouTuber Shane Dawson’s highly-anticipated Conspiracy palette and subsequent makeup Collection will be available for purchase in partnership with Jeffree Star Cosmetics and Morphe starting at 10 AM PST on Friday. This particular makeup launch will be unlike any other in the history of the beauty industry in that its entire creation — from selecting color concepts and shade naming to finalizing packaging details — was shared via a 6-part docuseries with Dawson’s 23 million subscribers on YouTube. So far, the docuseries average 17.5M viewers per episode with the view count climbing by the hour.

Never before has this level of transparency and transactional data been shared with the public on the business of makeup as viewers had a front-row seat to the realities of creating a makeup collection from start to finish. In the series, Jeffree and Shane talk at length about the cost of goods, profit margins, branding and merchandising, as well as the importance of quality, local ingredients — offering candor, openness, and insight that only fortifies the influence of YouTube’s top talent and spending power of their audiences since the series began. This event is also sure to inspire purpose-driven young consumers to make more socially-conscious choices. And, in fact, it already is.

Whether consumers like the palette or not, the Conspiracy Collection makeup launch will be monumental as foreseen by the release of Shane’s new brand and merch store towards the end of the YouTube series (just a few days ago), which sold out in less than thirty minutes. Unlike the anxiously-awaited merch drops from the likes of Supreme, Kanye’s Yeezy, and One Hundred Thieves, what’s unique about Shane’s merch launch is that to know about “the drop,” fans had to follow along with the docuseries, which was entirely unanticipated. Throughout the series, Shane often (unintentionally) delayed the release of footage (due to uploading or last-minute editing) but that never stopped his followers from quickly consuming the content and immediately selling out his online merch store when it launched.

The level of transparency afforded by this YouTube series is unmatched and radically shifts how consumers will shop beauty brands.

In one pivotal scene, Shane actually shows how much profit had been made off the merch store within the first 28 minutes of its release (well into the six figures) — demonstrating the commitment and spending power of truly engaged audiences. And while 28 minutes may seem like a lifetime compared to Kanye West’s 10-minute sell-out on Yeezys, remember that Shane and Jeffree are YouTubers, not A-list celebrities.

Shane Dawson’s online merch shop, hosted by Killer Merch, which is owned by Jeffree Star


Shane Dawson — 23M YouTube subscribers and 11.6M Instagram followers 

Jeffree Star — 16.4 M YouTube subscribers and 14.8M Instagram followers

What’s even more impressive is that before creating the Conspiracy Collection,  Shane took no part in the beauty community nor is he apart of beauty’s target demographic; making the docuseries more captivating for viewers. By showing the magic behind creativity, the series helps break down makeup’s societal barrier to entry, defies stereotypes of identity, and demonstrates the value of inclusivity and diversity. Shane and Jeffree’s strategy also reinforces that consumers are curious about the people and brands they love; interested in how products are made, brands are crafted, and partnerships are executed. The Collection is more than a palette of makeup but a real-life, cultural moment as the shade names are inspired by Shane’s life and lengthy YouTube career with names like “Just A Theory,” “Food Videos,” “What’s The Tea?,” and “My Pills.”

Shane Dawson x Jeffree Star Cosmetics Conspiracy Palette

So, what can marketers learn from this historic moment on YouTube? (Well, a few things.)

  • Anticipate halo effects with more shoppers eager to explore makeup inspiration and new beauty products both in-store and online.

  • Consider exploring unconventional influencer partnerships. As evident by Shane and Jeffree, the lives and interests of influential voices go far beyond what they share publicly on social media and for brand deals. You might be surprised to find popular voices in one vertical organically transitioning to another; creating a monumental opportunity for both your brand and the influencer to create something truly meaningful for customers.

  • Acknowledge that the business of beauty has been revealed to millions of customers. Take advantage of this moment by amplifying (or, in some cases, internally reconsidering) your brand’s commitment to transparency, quality ingredients, and messaging on how beauty can be a positive, community-based force in the world.

Only time will tell what the ripple effects of this series will be in the years to come, but in the meantime, consumers around the nation are flocking to malls for sold-out meet-and-greets for a chance to see some of YouTube’s biggest personalities — so my hunch is that this strategy of talent collaborations will be here for the long haul.

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Jeffree Star x Morphe Meet and Greet