The Gen Z Beauty Consumer

August 2022

Born between 1995 and 2009, Generation Z (Gen Z) is coming of age alongside significant changes in post-pandemic economy, giving rise to the Gen Z beauty consumer’s tendencies for price sensitivity, individualistic expression, active participation in user-generated content, and phygital spaces. The rise of Gen Z-geared brands highlight this cohort’s preference for sustainable features and clean beauty claims. Social media and social commerce are essential to succeed with Gen Z beauty consumers.

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Key takeaways

Gen Z’s coming of age coincides with significant dynamic changes in post-pandemic economy

A fast-deteriorating global economic outlook is set to present challenges for both Gen Z and the beauty brands targeting them. Gen Z is bound to see their financials under strain as the youth is historically the first to see employment rates drop, amid a backdrop of market volatility, including inflation, supply chain disruption, and geopolitical uncertainty.

Gen Z pricing sensitivity will continue, giving mass tiers an advantage but premium opportunities to diversify

Gen Z may be price-sensitive, but they exhibit a willingness to spend on beauty and personal care products that contribute to their health and emotional wellness. Beauty brands that deliver on efficacy and include sustainable features, accessible prices and omnichannel strategies resonate the most with this cohort.

Gen Z seeks out beauty to express individualism and achieve wellness in a "back to basics" approach

Gen Z sees beauty as a means to become one’s true self (as opposed to achieving perfection), and iterations of that true self are all acceptable. They lean into the notion that they are responsible for their own wellness, which is an amalgamation of physical, emotional, social and spiritual health. Their preference for a "back to basics" approach is also amplified by the fact that this cohort views clean beauty as the norm.

Gen Z beauty expects digital and physical beauty worlds to work together seamlessly

Gen Z’s beauty consumer journey is heavily skewed towards the smartphone, social media, especially TikTok (Douyin in China), and early adoption of digital platforms (eg metaverse) and beauty tech strategies (VR etc). Despite heavy dependence on digital, Gen Z shows a yearning for human interaction, which helps explain demand for a phygital approach to beauty.

Building customer loyalty in Gen Z can be difficult

Building customer loyalty among this cohort, which likes to experiment with different brands, can be difficult, especially in an oversaturated market. However, beauty brands that can substantiate efficacy and have a large presence on social media can thrive in a market defined by a transactional approach.

Introduction

Scope
Key takeaways

State of play

Gen Z now almost a quarter of the global population, with Middle East and Africa leading
Gen Z’s coming of age coincides with significant dynamic changes in post-pandemic economy
Youth unemployment and income challenge the spending power of Gen Z
Inflationary pressures to remain high, exacerbating Gen Z’s price sensitivity
Gen Z’s concerns contribute to appetite for emotional wellness and positive life experiences

Exploring the Gen Z beauty consumer

Who is the Gen Z beauty consumer?
Gen Z links beauty with intrinsic values, holistic health and emotional wellness
For Gen Z, beauty is about individualistic expression
As digital natives, much of their consumer journey takes place via smartphones
Smartphone usage, however, differs across developed and emerging markets
Being yourself is a higher priority among Gen Z than replicating specific beauty aesthetics
Pragmatism and a quest for experiences drive Gen Z shopping preferences
Gen Z prefer minimalistic daily beauty routines, but use expressive make-up occasionally
Gen Z has a looser perception of traditional gender norms
Gen Z male consumers show fewer reservations in exploring beauty products
Value remains key for the Gen Z consumer

Gen Z-focused beauty

Skin concerns among Gen Z centre around acne
Gen Z hair concerns centre around scalp care, amid growing consciousness of textured hair

Case studies: Gen Z-focused beauty

Local sourcing, transparency and carbon footprint set to emerge
US-based clean beauty brand Kinship opts for community-led product development
US-based Topicals addresses chronic skin conditions while advocating inclusivity
Florasis draws from culture and uses digitally-native approach to win over Chinese Gen Z
Peacefull’s values and ingredients resonate with Gen Z in the United Arab Emirates
US-based Glossier thrives among millennials, but struggles to pivot to Generation Z
Dr. Barbara Sturm branches out to Gen Z through microbiome skin care line
Brands popular among Gen Z focus on clean beauty claims while keeping prices accessible

Digital and retail environment

Gen Z leans into digitalisation, especially in creating beauty user-generated content
Virtual experiences key to Gen Z consumer journey, but physical world still dominates
Most beauty brands are not shy about experimenting online while a few remain sceptical
Social media, social commerce success essential to succeed in Gen Z beauty
A closer look: Livestreaming and social commerce drive Gen Z consumption in China
A closer look: How digital strategies of C-beauty brands resonate with Gen Z
Retailers must adapt to flexible and value-driven approaches when targeting Gen Z
Digital presence is key to attract Gen Z, regardless of developed or emerging beauty market

Future outlook

Generation Z: Projections by market in population and share of population, 2022-2032
Key Takeaways
Understanding the Gen Z beauty consumer: Challenges and solutions
How to win with Gen Z: Prospects for mass beauty and personal care
How to win with Gen Z: Prospects for premium beauty and personal care

Beauty and Personal Care

This is the aggregation of baby and child-specific products, bath & shower, deodorants, hair care, colour cosmetics, men's grooming, oral hygiene, fragrances, skin care, depilatories and sun care. Black market sales and travel retail are excluded.

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