MONDAY Haircare and the curse of influencer marketing

Written by Harriet Keown

When MONDAY Haircare hit the market, stock couldn’t fly off the shelf fast enough. Now? The Instagram sensation has found itself in a spot of hot water, and even the aesthetically-pleasing packing can’t save it.

It was late-March when my Instagram feed became awash with a tide of pastel pink. Some of New Zealand’s most popular influencers were suddenly raving about a new shampoo range, with fresh-to-the-scene MONDAY Haircare, founded by Jaimee Lupton and her partner Nick Mowbray (who happens to be the co-founder of billion-dollar business ZURU Toys), claiming to be changing the hair game. Offering a salon-quality product for supermarket prices, these Insta-worthy bottles seemed too good to be true. As a true millennial, and therefore a sucker for good packaging, I was immediately drawn in. 

From the start, business appeared to be booming. MONDAY’s products were consistently sold out in New Zealand supermarkets, with seductive gaps in the shelves telling you what you were missing out on, and each day bringing a glowing new recommendation from a high-profile reviewer. Everyone from their A-list ambassador, model Georgia Fowler, to sustainable fashion designer Maggie Hewitt was singing their praises. Features in Vogue Australia and even the Daily Mail seemed to validate the hype.

In my own world, more and more friends started to jump on the pastel-pink bandwagon. Largely, they were won over on account of the bottles fitting their bathroom aesthetic, but good Instagram marketing makes avoiding a purchase incredibly hard. If you’re not part of the latest trend, all you really are is a voyeuristic double-tapper, left wondering what it would be like to be on the inside. MONDAY knew exactly who their target market was: style-conscious Instagrammers who didn’t like to feel excluded. They nailed their segment, and, as a result, the product flew out the door. 

If you’re not part of the latest trend, all you really are is a voyeuristic double-tapper, left wondering what it would be like to be on the inside.

But it wasn’t long before the initial magic started to fizzle out. Comments on MONDAY’s social media showed some serious dissatisfaction amongst customers, and, most scathingly, an Instagram account with the handle @mondayhaircarerevealed emerged, allegedly created by a group of hairdressers, exposing the truth behind some of the range’s ingredients. MONDAY responded with a podcast between their hair technician, Sophy Phillips, and Good magazine editor, Carolyn Enting, debunking any claims of harmful ingredients, but the horror stories were already out in forces. From reports of scalp irritation and greasy locks to chemical reactions and bald patches, MONDAY Haircare went straight from cult favourite to the cosmetic chopping block. 

The complicated and ongoing saga once again puts the issue of influencer marketing under the spotlight. Much like the catastrophic meltdown that was 2017’s Fyre Festival, MONDAY’s approach seemed to rely heavily on word of mouth — a plan which works perfectly when being spread by people who are paid (or at least given free product) for their reviews, but can be hugely damaging when criticism starts to seep through from the general public. 

It begs the question: can we really trust that the words of someone speaking under a contract reflect their true opinions? Influencers’ brands are built, for the most part, on trust and authenticity — their following wouldn’t exist without it. But for fans of people like Georgia Fowler and Maggie Hewitt, as well as other New Zealand influencers who were part of MONDAY’s promotional campaign, it’s a critical reminder that Instagram doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story. Likewise, pretty packaging doesn’t necessarily mean the product will shine. Shock, horror. 

monday haircare

A collage of a barrage of negative comments
from MONDAY Haircare’s Instagram platform.


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