What Gen Z really wants from beauty brands

Published 09th Jan 2023 by PB Admin
What Gen Z really wants from beauty brands

From Y2K style to au naturel make-up, Gen Z is pioneering new trends within beauty and fashion that are driving innovation and reshaping the industry, writes UNiDAYS global beauty lead Jessica Hewitt for Professional Beauty... 

Gen Z’s influence is inarguable, representing 40% of the total consumer base in the UK. This current generation defies the static, one-size-fits-all approach traditionally associated with beauty and they are proud to showcase their individualism. But it can be a tricky demographic to pin down, especially for beauty brands assessing what the TikTok generation expects.

Despite industry uncertainty, our recent Holiday report found that beauty is one of the main sectors attracting Gen Z spending, alongside fashion and tech.

This makes it ever essential than ever that beauty brands and salons understand how they can adapt to meet the demands of this core consumer base. 

Leveraging data from 22m+ verified student members, UNiDAYS’ 2022 Beauty report has delved into the thoughts and opinions of Gen Z to assess their expectations for the industry at large.

Communicating in the right way

To start connecting with Gen Z, the industry must first meet them where they are most comfortable. This means understanding where Gen Z wants to learn the latest goings on in the world of beauty.

The answer for most Gen Z-ers, unsurprisingly, is social media. The average Gen Z consumer spends nearly an hour a day on TikTok alone, while the report found that 62% of UK students view social media as the primary platform to keep up with the latest beauty trends, news and tips.

Interestingly, even with the rise of TikTok so closely associated with Gen Z, Instagram remains the go-to destination for the majority (80%) when it comes to beauty.

This means beauty brands, salons and professionals must ensure they have a social strategy that communicates their values with messaging directly targeting Gen Z. Finding the right influencers can play a crucial role in this, with a third of UK students using influencers to keep up with the latest in beauty.

By partnering with the right influencers, brands can communicate with Gen Z as part of their daily life. Influencers can connect with their followers on a personal level, offering a trusted source able to communicate a brand’s values and worth to Gen Z.

The full retail experience

Gen Z loves to create new experiences and so physical retail plays an important part in their purchase decisions, especially within beauty. They are looking for the right combination – and benefits – of the physical and digital shopping experiences.

They like the opportunity to try before they buy, a luxury not afforded by online shopping. This is particularly helpful when trying to find beauty brands that complement their skin type, tone and texture while reflecting who they are as an individual

This is good news for beauty retailers, but it’s important to understand the factors fuelling the desire for in-store shopping.

It’s important to emphasise that Gen Z wants shopping to be an experience; they expect to be immersed in the brand but benefit from the efficiency, choice and information that is available online.    

This means there is a great opportunity for salon owners and beauty professionals to upsell products alongside detailed explanations, consultations and treatments.

Research from Ayden found that 48% of Gen Z-ers expect to be able to return or exchange items bought online in the physical store, and 33% bank on being able to buy online and pick up in-store. 

Gen Z customers want to be able to try on beauty looks at home through AI tech and digital sampling, and be able to access the level of information and product selection available online through QR code scanning and ordering in-store.

The price is right

Beyond the “where”, there are several other factors for salons and spas to consider. To point out the obvious, many are feeling the squeeze at the moment due to the current climate, and this is especially true for the younger generation.

Rising inflation means Gen Z-ers must be more mindful when purchasing non-essential items like beauty products, leading them to look for opportunities to spread their cash further.

So price matters – and Gen Z loves a bargain. As the first digital-native generation, Gen Z will comb the internet looking for a brand’s best offers. In fact, over half (52%) will wait until they see an offer or discount before buying their favourite beauty brands.

Of course, brands and salons are feeling the pinch too, meaning the majority can’t offer large discounts year-round. Adopting a sustainable pricing strategy is key, where brands can offer discounts during key calendar moments like Black Friday and through the festive season.

Finding the balance isn’t easy, but it is worth it, with UNiDAYS Fashion Report finding that 82% are loyal to brands offering regular discounts.

Say no to animal testing

However, price isn’t everything. Gen Z is ultra-passionate about social issues and demands brands meet their ethical standards in order to earn their loyalty.

This means having brands tackle issues that matter most to them. For example, our Beauty report found that UK students are taking a stand against animal testing, with 43% saying they never buy beauty products tested on animals.

Instead, they are throwing their support behind brands like The Ordinary, which is cruelty-free and advocates ending animal testing globally.

Gen Zers are keenly aware of the formulation of the products they purchase and also want to shop eco, with 37% refusing to buy beauty products that include harmful ingredients like microplastics or palm oil.

This even takes priority over getting the best deal, with UK students willing to pay 10-20% more for ethically sourced and vegan beauty products, so keeping this in mind when considering business practices and product ingredients is key.

Representing beauty for all

Gen Z values don’t end there. According to research from the US, Gen Z is the most ethnically and racially diverse generation to date, and they expect beauty brands to reflect that.

Simply put, they want to see people that look like them when choosing what they buy: two-fifths of Gen Z say that diversity and inclusion is the most important brand value to them when shopping for beauty products.

Just five years ago, Fenty Beauty (available at Sephora) shook up the traditional beauty industry with an impressive debut of 40 foundation shades that catered to a wide range of light to dark skin tones. Other brands have swiftly followed to bring this inclusivity to become the industry standard. 

This pioneering work is recognised and respected by Gen Z, with over 80% aware of the brand and a quarter of those we surveyed purchasing Fenty Beauty. 

Time to go all in

It isn’t simple; Gen Z-ers want inclusive, sustainable products made to the highest ethical standards, all at the right price. And when it comes to online vs in-store, they expect the best of both worlds.

While their demands are high, their influence cannot be underestimated. They are the present and future core consumers for all brands, setting trends that also impact Millennials and Generation X buying behaviours.

This is a pivotal moment for beauty brands with this key demographic. Gen Z consumers are ready to find their next favourite beauty products and by understanding and adapting to their values and expectations, it could be yours.


PB Admin

PB Admin

Published 09th Jan 2023

Have all the latest news delivered to your inbox

You must be a member to save and like images from the gallery.