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Has The Influencer Brand Trip Era Has Run Its Course?

Mar 21, 2024

Influencer News

Has The Influencer Brand Trip Era Has Run Its Course?

If you were one of the lucky 30 people attending the infamous Tarte influencer brand trip, you would’ve been whisked away by private jet to the luxurious Polynesian island of Bora Bora to stay at the Four Seasons for four nights of makeovers, partying by the pool, and drinking copious cocktails. 

For free, of course. 

In return, all you had to do was post some Tarte-related content to your socials over the course of the trip to let your thousands (or millions in some cases) of followers know exactly where you were and who you were with. 

Influencer brand trips aren’t new marketing strategies. In fact, Tarte stands as a proud veteran in this space, with trips dating back to the YouTube days (yes, 2015 is now considered a long time ago) hosting the likes of Patrick Starr and Manny MUA in Hawaii. It’s safe to say that Tarte has never compromised when it comes to influencer brand trip quality, adding the likes of Dubai, Turks and Caicos, and Costa Rica to its #trippinwithtarte roster over the years. 

So what is it about the 2024 Bora Bora trip that’s ruffled a few feathers and got the beauty industry talking?

IS #TRIPPINWITHTARTE BECOMING TOO FAR DETACHED?

If you weren’t bestowed the honour of being on the guest list, you would’ve seen a video on Abby Baffoe’s TikTok page of her and her influencer friends on a Bora Bora-bound private jet lip syncing the words to Fergie’s Glamorous to the camera, particularly the lyrics “if you ain’t got no money take yo broke ass home”. To which one user commented, “I’ve been influenced! To buy any brand but Tarte”. 

@abbybaffoe

Vibes are high ✈️ @tarte cosmetics #trippingwithtarte

♬ original sound – spotify

To many, the disconnect between Tarte’s annual influencer brand trip and the real world is being ramped up, with TikTok as its catalyst. As more and more of us find ourselves falling victim to the ongoing cost of living crisis, such large displays of wealth from already-well-off influencers appears a little tone-deaf on Tarte’s part. Truthfully, who wants to watch influencers being treated to luxurious trips while working away at their desks 24/7?

Ellie Fraizer is just one of the many TikTok users calling out the brand for being out of touch with its consumers, stating that “seeing them take private jets to Bora Bora does not make me want to go buy something from Tarte Cosmetics”. 

@elliewfrazier

in this economy??? sheesh feed some people with that money or somethin #tartecosmetics #influencersinthewild #deinfluencing

♬ original sound – ellie🤎

She goes on to explore the idea that perhaps an influencer brand trip of this scale would appeal to younger girls who fangirl over influencers, but for women in their mid-20s and up, who spend their time working a 9-5, Monday to Friday, this marketing tactic really misses the mark; particularly when it’s these women who are more likely to reach into their pockets. 

Though Tarte’s CEO, Maureen Kelly, stands by the efficacy of the trips to build relationships with creators and consumers alike, it begs the question, how are relationships with consumers being prioritised if it’s the creators being whisked away on luxury trips to Bora Bora?

Those being whisked away aren’t exactly your “everyday influencers” either. Two invitees on this year’s trip are the girlfriends of NFL players, leading some to question Tarte’s decision to invite people who seem able to afford their own luxury holidays. Though Tarte opened up the opportunity for two lucky winners, and their guests, to win spots on the influencer brand trip this year, it’s yet to be determined whether this was a ploy to hush the inevitable noise that would follow the trip’s completion, or whether the brand really did want to strengthen relationships with consumers.

A controversial history

Thankfully, the influencer brand trip to Bora Bora doesn’t stem from a dislike for the Polynesian island itself. Its adverse response is simply an addition to an already-long list of controversial brand trips from Tarte, namely the Dubai trip of 2023 which sparked outrage for the brand’s tone-deaf approach to the launch of the Maracuja Juicy Foundation and the Miami trip which was allegedly run on discriminatory decisions. 

Pink Honey’s recent influencer brand trip controversy is proof of what a lack of diversity and inclusion can do to a brand. Following a gifted Christmas getaway, consisting of several UK-based beauty influencers all of the same race, gender, and age, the brand quickly came under fire for its poor attempt at prioritising diversity within its community. Since then, many beauty influencers have renounced their affiliation with the brand and even more beauty community members have stopped using the brand altogether. 

@sipteawithmelissa

The Pink Honey influencer trip explained 👀 #popculturecommentary #popculturenewstoday #celebnews #celebritynews #influencertrip #pinkhoneyuk #influencertrips

♬ original sound – Melissa

The brand’s extensive history with running controversial brand trips isn’t all it has to account for either. The cosmetics giant came under fire in 2018 when the launch of its Shape Tape Foundation severely lacked any semblance of a shade range. Beauty guru, Jackie Aina, criticised Tarte for lacking shade diversity at a time when most lines had expanded the options for all skin tones. This led to a huge moment for the beauty industry which saw hundreds of creators refuse to promote Tarte until an apology was given and an announcement of more shades being released was made (you’ll be pleased to know both happened). 

Given Tarte’s very touch-and-go journey through the beauty industry in the last decade, this hasn’t deterred it from running its famous annual influencer brand trip. Could this be because the influencer brand trip marketing tactic actually works? 

WHAT DOES #TRIPPINWITHTARTE SUCCEED AT?

Sure, Tarte’s influencer brand trip strategy leans slightly towards being tone-deaf, but given that it’s run continuously for over a decade now, does this indicate that something beneficial is actually coming from it?

To determine this, we must first identify what “beneficial” means to Tarte. 

In a recent interview with Glossy, Kelly reiterates the brand’s goal for hosting over a decade’s worth of trips, stating that “we invest in building relationships and building up communities”. The sole purpose of these trips isn’t to plug products. Instead it’s to build relationships with the invitees to help boost earned media value (EMV) for the purpose of future product launches or campaign endeavours. 

@mireyarios

GRWM PAJAMA PARTY!!! #borabora #brandtrips #tartecosmetics #trippinwithtarte #grwmmakeup #grwmmomedition✨ #tartebrandtrip #mymakeuproutine #pajamapartymakeup

♬ original sound – Mireya Rios

When looking at the longevity of marketing strategies, Tarte’s annual influencer brand trip proves it can go the extra mile. By hosting some of the biggest names in the beauty industry and offering them such luxuries for free, they encourage an automatic bias within the influencers who they’d then look at for collaborations months down the line when it’s time to launch a new product or campaign. Given the flurry of content depicting happy faces on the Bora Bora trip, it’s safe to say Tarte’s end goal has been achieved. 

But does building such close, long-lasting relationships with influencers always need to come with such a hefty price tag?

At first glance, it’s easy to assume that Tarte’s contribution to this influencer brand trip has cost the brand a fortune. For many on the internet, this became the springboard off of which their concerns over where their hard-earned money was being reinvested, came from. If we take a closer look, from a social media marketing perspective, we’ll find that this trip didn’t actually cost as much as we think. 

As a giant within the beauty industry, it is very likely that Tarte didn’t reach into its own pocket to pay for the likes of accommodation, dinners, or activities. Not only this, but everything received in the invitee’s PR packages beforehand was all gifted, meaning that all Tarte had to cover was the cost of the shipping to everyone’s homes. How ideal. Given that the PR unboxing videos kickstarted the spate of Bora Bora content, the brands involved in the perfectly-wrapped purple boxes automatically received boosted brand awareness too.

@abbybaffoe

Replying to @nikkio101 THE ENDING ARE WE KIDDING IM FREAKING OUTTT 😭😭🥹🥹 I love u guys so much omg @tarte cosmetics #trippinwithtarte #borabora #canong7x #prunboxing

♬ original sound – Abby Baffoe

In total, the Tarte influencer brand trip to Bora Bora, most likely only cost the brand a few private jets, documentation fees, and shipping costs. 

Even if Tarte did cover the cost of every element of this influencer brand trip, what sets its investment apart from those brands who invest millions into a spot on the Super Bowl ads reel?

THE FUTURE OF #TRIPPINWITHTARTE

Much to the dismay of many, Tarte’s annual influencer brand trip is here to stay. For the beauty influencer community, however, this is great news. Think about how many beauty influencers are now going to be pushing and promoting Tarte’s products in the hope of being invited on the next trip. 

What this doesn’t mean, however, is that the brand can forget about its controversial past and continue under the onus that #trippinwithtarte is solely a beneficial strategy. Diversity, inclusion and awareness of the economic climate are all elements that Tarte is obliged to put at the forefront of its influencer brand trip plans. Seeing a more diverse array of influencers attend this year’s Bora Bora trip, we’re hopeful that Tarte’s social listening skills will see these obligations pushed to the forefront going forward.

Regardless of which side of the fence you sit on, it’s hard to see #trippinwithtarte as anything other than an incredibly smart marketing strategy. Through leveraging such an intimate, luxurious setting, the brand is able to foster those all-important creator relationships that, let’s be honest, every brand seeks to achieve. Thanks to this fool-proof strategy that’s been built, it’s easy to see why Tarte continues full steam ahead with its paradisical adventures. 

Our influencer marketing agency and social agency are located worldwide, with our agency network based in the USA, UK, UAE and China.

If you want to find industry insights, visit our influencer marketing and social media blogs.

@ Socially Powerful

Author

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Ella Proctor

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