Paw patrol: here’s why animal influencers have become beauty’s latest pet project

Paw patrol: here’s why animal influencers have become beauty’s latest pet project

We have to admit to choking on our coffee when we first heard of pet influencers entering the beauty sphere. Say what? Yes, L’Oréal, the queen of all things digital has apparently also embraced the latest Insta trend, and is paying pooches to promote its products, with NYX, Urban Decay and The Body Shop all recruiting pups to plug their perfumes and powders (okay, their worldwide campaign to ban animal testing, but where’s the fun alliteration in that?), while LVMH-owned Benefit has apparently been harnessing the pulling power of chihuahua Dolly Pawton, Estée Lauder Companies’ Smashbox even boasts a #dogsofsmashbox hashtag, and stablemate Too Faced’s feed features Co-Founder Jerrod Blandino’s dog Clover.

Why? Well, many are keen to highlight their cruelty-free credentials – and, as The Body Shop’s VP of Marketing Andrea Bliedon told Business Insider, “This is a campaign against animal cruelty, so who better to speak for the animals than the animals themselves?”

And there’s no prizes for guessing why beauty brands are keen to get the word out there about their animal testing status; with the rise of veganism (up 350 percent in the last decade, according to the Vegan Society), interest in cruelty-free beauty products is at an all-time high. Market Research Future predicts a 6.1 percent rise in the cruelty-free beauty market over the next six years, while Google Trends reports that ‘vegan’ searches increased 90 percent over the course of 2016.

All this adds up to a winning formula: cute animals + cosmetics = consumers – and that is exactly why pets are being drafted in to promote beauty products, even by those not pushing a cruelty-free or vegan agenda. It’s also a refreshing departure from the more traditional ‘mainstream media campaign fronted by a major celebrity’ format.

“There’s been a greater push from brands because pet influencers in general provide a lot of value,” Loni Edwards, Managing Partner at The Dog Agency told Business Insider. “The content outperforms because it tends to get higher engagement, has more viral potential and people are more likely to tag their friends.”

Adds Kamiu Lee, Head of Business and Development Strategy at Bloglovin’: “Pet influencers enjoy strong engagement rates as their content may be more shareable, more likely to elicit a response, and overall feel less promotional – even when they are touting a product.”

In other words, it’s a numbers game pure and simple: first, pets are cheaper than high-profile celebrities and some of the biggest animal influencers out there boast impressive numbers of followers – Fur Card lists Nala (a Siamese-tabby cross cat), Marutaro (a Shiba Inu dog) and chihuahua-daschund mix, Tuna (of The Body Shop fame) as the most influential animals on Instagram – counting almost two million followers a-piece.

But brands beware – when it goes wrong, it can go very, very wrong. When Shiseido-owned Nars announced it was dialling back on its cruelty-free status in order to enter the Chinese market at the end of June, social media users immediately started sharing posts branded with #boycottnars. To date, there are 1,182 posts carrying the hashtag, and they ain’t pretty – shots of rabbits being injected in the eye with your logo superimposed over the top isn’t going to win you followers any time soon. 

Now, if you’ll excuse us, we have to get back to LOLcats…