What does the future of the beauty industry look like? And how can we be successful in this uncertain future? The answer lies in the consumers, more specifically the younger customers. To understand where the beauty industry is heading, we need to take a closer look at the Generation Z. According to a study conducted by WSGN, this generation is making up 40% of consumers and their annual spending is $368 and growing. Therefore, brands need to start tailoring messaging and products to attain these valuable consumers. In this guide, we will get to know Gen Z and get insights into how beauty brands can cater to this generation.
Who are they?
There is no clear cut on when Generation Z (Gen Z) starts and ends but according to the majority of definitions, generation Z are the people born between 1995 and 2010. One thing is clear though, the generation is presented by digital natives born into the digital era and grew up with digital technology like smartphones, tablets, apps, social media, etc. Moreover, Gen Z is characterized by ambition, confidence, and the desire for self-realization. They are conscious and self-educated through content consumption and have more information, more knowledge, more insight than previously. Given this, Gen Z is known for challenging the status quo for instance at work, being against strict hierarchies. The same can be applied to the beauty industry. Gen Z is transforming and moving the way beauty brands operate and communicate. Here are the most important factors Gen Z consider when it comes to beauty:
1. Sustainability & Transparency
Clean beauty has been on the rise and Gen Z is a crucial reason for this movement. Gen Z loves and wants beauty products that are cruelty-free, vegan, and rich with natural ingredients. Since they are very conscious about the environment, they prefer brands with sustainable packaging made out of bamboo for instance or recycled material.
2. Individualism & Expression
Gen Z is celebrating individual beauty and self-expression — you do you! Gen Z is choosing authenticity, self-love, and acceptance over perfectionism and flawlessness. Flaws are not seen as something bad but rather something good and unique. This is why trends like skinimalism emerge that focus on embracing the real skin and natural beauty through minimal but rich beauty products. The majority of Gen Z beauty spending goes towards skincare products compared to makeup. The mindful Gen Z sees skincare as a form of self-care and self-love. They also love cosmetic products that are enriched with natural ingredients for your skin.
Given this mindset of individualism, it is also of no surprise that strong gender stereotypes disappear and Gen Z advocates the freedom of expression for both genders. The beauty industry is turning more and more towards genderless and celebrating individual identities.
3. Inclusion & Diversity
Due to the internet, Gen Z has been growing up in a more connected world than ever before and is thus even more open and accepting. As we now know, Gen Z is celebrating individualism and hence commits to diversity and inclusion. Being the most diverse generation to date, consumers of Gen Z love brands that express their acceptance through their products for instance in a range of makeup shades or through their communication. However, it is important to not just show diverse models but have real people that consumers can identify and relate with in terms of different body sizes, skin tones to various ages, and physical abilities.
How to attract them?
Brands that are successfully targeting Gen Z all have a strong social presence in common. Social media in combination with mobile are the new primary channels to connect with Gen Z customers right now. In fact, 96% of Gen Z own a smartphone and they spend on average 9 hours a day online. And 76% of Gen Z discover new brands through channels like Instagram.
These online platforms allow Gen Z consumers to both consume and create trends, engage in online beauty communities, and perhaps most importantly to brands, shop directly and instantly. Brands can and should not only leverage social commerce but other features and functions related to the internet and technology like shop stream or AR and AI, since this generation has low to no barriers to adopt.
They love to share information about their everyday lives on various social media channels through tweets, posts, gifs, or videos. Therefore they prefer engaging brands that are transparent and genuine in their communication and interaction on social channels. Gen Z is less likely to be influenced by celebrities but rather look for advice and recommendation from peers and online communities. Hence, the best way to interact with Gen Z is through open dialogue and two-way communication. This can be done by listening to the community and also encouraging consumers to be part of the brand for instance by creating content with the brand. The co-creation and community aspects can be found on platforms like TikTok.
Now looking at some brands that understand Gen Z and cracked the code in connecting with this generation. Let’s start with Gen Z’s favorite beauty products, skincare. One brand that has been catching Gen Z attention is Youth To The People (YTTP). Their products are created with the planet in mind. As they state “we only have one world to protect”. All products are vegan, cruelty-free and sustainably made in California. YTTP is very strong in their communication of sustainability, climate change as well as social issues like gender equality, racism and more. They have built an empowering online community that advocates self-expression and individualism.
Kinship is a startup that has been rising in popularity. The team behind Kinship consists of Gen Z that discusses each ingredient before a product launch. So it is truly a Gen Z brand created by Gen Z for Gen Z. Kinship puts their focus on quality ingredients and the planet through packaging and continuous commitment to reduce ocean waste.
Other skincare favorites are OTZI, Plenaire, Bad Habit, Versed or Krave Beauty. All of these brands have a strong social presence. These brands attract Gen Z not only through conscious and sustainable products but also through their diversity and online community that supports and inspires each other.
Continuing with an example of a cosmetic beauty brand. Thanks to their growing community of Gen Z consumers, e.l.f. cosmetics is one of the very few brands that have seen growth during these uncertain times. e.l.f. cosmetics is ticking off all the points mentioned in our list above. Firstly, e.l.f.’ -s products are vegan and cruelty-free. They are also currently making an effort to reduce packaging material. Secondly, after listening to the community e.l.f. has successfully launched a skincare line as well as several products that combine skincare and cosmetics that present an example for the skinimalism trend. Besides that, individualism and expression can be seen in their communication for instance using the slogan “be your best e.l.f.” or their series “e.l.f.-love” with advice and tips on self-love. Third, just taking a look at campaigns and social media content, we can see diversity ranging from nationality, gender, shape, and more. They have been quick in adopting TikTok and new technologies to enhance experiences like AI-driven online chat feature or a new live chat feature where customers can speak to beauty advisors and makeup artists via video, phone, or chat.
Some brands create extra lines just for the Gen Z consumers. For instance, the cosmetic brand Morphe launched a subline called Morphe 2, which includes skincare and lightweight beauty products enhancing natural beauty like their skin tint and illuminator. This again shows the concept of skinimalism. Moreover, they offer a wide range of shades for their product and hence highlight the diversity of the brand. Morphe 2 purposely has TikTok megastars as the brand ambassadors to directly capture Gen Z consumers. This again shows the concept of skinimalism. Moreover, they offer a wide range of shades for their product and hence highlight the diversity of the brand. Morphe 2 purposely has TikTok megastars as the brand ambassadors to directly capture Gen Z consumers.
Gen Z the Future of Beauty
What makes the brand mentioned stand out to Gen Z is their authenticity and transparency. Especially how the brands are using their voices to speak out and support various social matters including LGBTQ+, climate change and animal protection. But the major reason for their success in connecting with the Gen Z audience is the combination of value-driven marketing and the right channels. They were active and fast in leveraging platforms like Instagram or TikTok to build communities and interact with Gen Z consumers through inspiring and engaging content.
To sum it up, following the points mentioned above will help beauty brands to better target and reach the new generation Gen Z. The way to go is to combine factors like Sustainability & Transparency; Individualism & Expression; Inclusion & Diversity with the right channels. It is important to remember that Gen Z customer journey is mainly online from discovery to purchase. The best way is to build a genuine relationship and community with this generation through meaningful and strong messages.