The Gen Z consumer is a major target for beauty brands, as their spending power is significant and exponentially growing. According to a Bloomberg report in 2021, Gen Z commands $360 billion in disposable income. McKinsey published its “The Beauty Market in 2023: A Special State of Fashion” report in May, which found the beauty industry generated approximately $430 billion in revenue last year.
Moreover, the consulting firm said the industry has been making “a solid recovery since the height of the COVID-19 pandemic” and projects growth by 6 percent a year, to reach $580 billion by 2027. The report authors project that premium beauty tiers will grow at an annual rate of 8 percent from 2022 to 2027, as compared to 5 percent in mass beauty.
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Furthermore, a recent report by Placer.ai found that Ulta Beauty was leading the pack in the discretionary spending categories. During July, in-person visits to the beauty retailer were up more than 15 percent year-over-year. The report’s authors attribute Ulta Beauty’s retail resilience to its broad appeal. The beauty retailer has a mix of luxury and value-priced merchandise to attract both affluent and less well-off consumers, of all ages.
“Gen Z spends more money on skin care and makeup products,” Sidi Drissi, global president of Buxom and BareMinerals. “Gen Z is typically highly educated on all the skin care and makeup products they are buying including the specific ingredients, textures and techniques of how to apply each product.”
Drissi elaborated that the consumers’ digital age upbringing allowed them access to social media tutorials on YouTube, Instagram and TikTok. Armed with the knowledge of products and ingredients, “Gen Z consumers interact with brands on a peer-to-peer level.”
Brinn Garner, chief revenue officer at Orveon, said that what sets the Gen Z demographic apart from the others is “placing high importance on ethics, sustainability and eco-friendly corporate responsibility. Gen Z is also more likely to shop via social platforms and based on influence than other generations.”
To capture the often limited attention and loyalty of a Gen Z consumer, Garner said meeting consumers where they are and how they prefer to shop is key. Brands’ agility and adaptability in innovation is a major make or break point. Orveon’s brands Bare Minerals, Buxom and Laura Mercier have successfully sold products within integrated e-commerce social media platforms such as TikTok Shop and Instagram Shopping.
McKinsey reported that beauty e-commerce nearly quadrupled from 2015 to 2022, with its market share more than 20 percent. Furthermore, the report found that 60 percent of Gen Z consumers are willing to keep buying from their favorite brands. Drissi said these findings are not surprising since switching brands impacts the consumer product experience and costs them precious time, research and money.
“Currently one of the key strategies that brands are developing is using their keepsake and iconic products to recreate a narrative toward younger consumers,” Drissi said. “This allows the brand to convince Gen Z consumers to rediscover the brand and the brand portfolio. This strategy is called a point of market entry strategy, which recruits new and young consumers and keeps them into the brand during their lifetime.”
Drissi shared that all Orveon brands have been improving their content and presence on TikTok. Easily digestible video content including GIFs, memes, short video reels and infographics are on the rise, as informational and entertaining to their consumers.
“Today, there is a lot of pressure on social media around perfect skin due to ‘smooth’ and ‘flawless skin’ filters on social media,” Drissi said. “For many of our Gen Z consumers, this is far from their reality. Brands that show transparency on social media, for example, with unretouched pictures, will capture consumer attention and maintain their loyalty.”
With the rise of social media propelling beauty to be one of the largest spending categories of Gen Z, Orveon’s chief digital officer Salima Popatia said Buxom has reshaped and adapted its strategies. Major marketing pushes for the brand include prioritizing TikTok and Instagram, such as for their recent Plumpshot campaign, leaning into relevant cultural moments for Gen Z and representing beauty in all forms through inclusive content.
“Based on this early success, Buxom has broadened our social media marketing strategy and leverages user-generated content and creator content wherever possible,” Popatia explained. “We’ve also leaned into beauty trends on the platform through spate, briefing our influencer partners and celebrity makeup artist, Ash K. Holm to create on-trend content for looks and makeup tutorials.”
According to McKinsey, the upcoming years within the space are set to be “a dynamic time, filled with opportunities and new challenges.” Garner and Drissi agree; they both have taken notice of the major shift occurring within the beauty space which can be attributed to Gen Z consumer behavior insights looking for more eco-consciousness, “edu-tainment” and vocal advocacy from the brands they loyally shop from.
“Consumers want to be a bigger part of the narrative, going beyond just sharing feedback and by participating at every level of the value chain,” Drissi said. “Moving forward, Gen Z will probably be the most informed in the beauty industry. If knowledge is power, not all information is good to take, and we need to separate what’s false from facts. This is exactly where brands can win by being truthful about their success but also on their mistakes.”
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