Gen Z – Beauty Without Borders; The New Wave of Beauty

5 Min Read |

Generation Z consumers were born between the mid-1990s and the mid-2000s. They are the first generation to grow up as truly digital natives – and (in general) they have little or no experiential understanding of a world without high-speed internet, smartphones and social media.

Gen Z can find what they need online. From social connections and communicating with friends, family and colleagues in an instant, to discovering and buying the beauty products that fit their needs and desires; they are at home in a digital landscape. They are connected at all times and profoundly aware of the possibilities available to them beyond their immediate physical surroundings.

In 2019, the older members of Gen Z are becoming adults. They’re starting careers – many of which, unsurprisingly, are digitally focused or take place entirely online – and they have spending power. Research by OC&C Strategy Consultants shows that Gen Z consumers are already spending $3.4 trillion, and they make up more than 7% of total household spend on average. Although they have much in common with Millennials, their values are different from previous generations of beauty fans because of their deep concerns over sustainability and authenticity.

In a recent survey of US teens by Piper Jaffray, only one heritage label, Clinique, featured in Gen Z’s 10 favourite skincare brands. Brands including Lancome, Bobbi Brown and YSL beauty are signing Gen Z ambassadors to increase their appeal to this tech-savvy and socially conscious young audience.

Why are teen ambassadors an important key to pulling the purchasing power of this generation?

Because research demonstrates that social proof is an effective marketing strategy for gaining the trust of Gen Z consumers. Influencer marketing, user-generated content and relevant reviews can convert to sales and audience loyalty.

Why Does Influencer Marketing Work for Gen Z?

According to research by personalization platform Fresh Relevance, 60% of Gen Z consumers are more interested in a brand that uses influencers, while 30% say they actively follow a beauty influencer on social media. Piper Jaffray’s survey found that 80% of female teens look to influencers as their primary means to discover new beauty products, with friends coming in at a close second. In the same survey, Jenner and James Charles featured as the most popular beauty influencers; they have 16 million YouTube subscribers.

It’s clear that influencers are important to Gen Z, although the question of whether big name mega-influencers are more valuable to beauty brands than smaller micro-influencers is open to debate.

But other forms of social proof are equally valuable to companies aiming to connect with Gen Z consumers.

Brands Can Use User-Generated Content and Reviews

User-generated content on platforms such as Instagram and YouTube provides valuable (and usually free) exposure to beauty brands. Crucially, it allows potential customers to see other people just like them using a brand’s products or services. This gives them the chance to imagine themselves with the product; it provides a sense of how it will make them look and feel. Two in five Gen Z beauty shoppers find user-generated content helpful in their purchasing decisions.

This form of organic marketing also serves to reduce the anxiety that a potential customer feels about spending their money on a product. When they see that others have bought the item, they feel reassured and have a sense of trust and confidence as a result. Brands can tap into this by actively promoting user-generated content; for example, running Instagram competitions in which users are asked to tag the brand in relevant content; sharing user-generated content on their Instagram stories; or using user-generated content as the inspiration for product tutorials on YouTube.

Customer reviews are also highly effective when it comes to proving the authenticity of a brand and its offerings. In fact, 37% of Gen Z consumers think that if a brand doesn’t share unbiased customer reviews, they must have something to hide. Two in three will read more than three reviews when trying to decide whether to buy a product – so more reviews results in more trust.

Reviews can include product ratings, which serve as an easy-to-display social proof of a product’s popularity at all stages of the purchasing journey. UK natural cosmetics brand Lush features snippets of customer reviews on every product page, curated to look like Twitter posts. This acts as immediately available evidence of each product’s benefits, and the familiarity of the social media style format is easily digestible to a Gen Z audience.

Genuine user-generated content, reviews, and ratings all support a brand’s authenticity in the eyes of the Gen Z market. The fact that real people like and use a brand or product proves that it’s worth buying, and helps to back up the claims made within the brand’s own marketing material. Social proof is vital for any brand striving to increase engagement with Gen Z consumers. The customer experience starts with previous customers.

When assessing the challenges facing online companies in the UAE, and beauty brands in particular, it’s important to keep in mind that this generation will become the prime market for the majority of beauty brands in the near future. Gen Z’s spending power is growing rapidly and its influence on the beauty industry is just beginning.

Start working on creating a solid Gen Z marketing strategy now – and your business will reap the rewards in the future.

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