The beauty industry is continuously evolving.

New technologies give rise to new beauty industry trends, world events and social movements shape priorities and emerging demographics bring with them their own needs and preferences.

In this blog we’ll take a look at this last area and examine the growth and impact of Millennial and Gen Z demographics on the beauty and cosmetics industry. How are these groups driving change in the sector and what do brands need to do to reach them?

Changes in the Beauty Industry

The  age boundaries can vary slightly, but Millennials are commonly described as consumers born between 1981 and 1996, with Gen Z consumers born between 1997 to 2012.

And one of the defining characteristics for both groups is their use of social media. Platforms like Instagram, TikTok and YouTube are crucial spaces where these demographics share and exchange information: research has found 20% of Gen Z spends more than 5 hours every day on TikTok.

These platforms - particularly TikTok - give rise to countless online trends and these include beauty trends. From makeup inspired by hit TV shows like Euphoria to graphic eyeliner tutorials, Gen Z consumers and Millennials are enjoying expressing themselves and learning from each other online.

This learning element means beauty products can see sudden surges in popularity among these demographics. For instance, Dior’s Lip Oil, Maybelline’s Sky High Mascara, Opalex hair products and Clinque’s Black Honey lipstick are just some of the beauty products that have experienced viral social media success.

And the popularity of such platforms has, of course, increased the power and importance of influencer marketing. 2020 may have been a time of huge upheaval for brands but it also supercharged growth in some areas - in 2020 TikTok registered a 164% increase in sponsored beauty posts and a 481% increase in engagement.

Gen Z and Millennial differences

Gen Z and Millennials may share similar characteristics but they aren’t homogenous. For example, recent research from Sprout Social found that among Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers, Gen Z are the least likely to follow brands on social media, preferring to turn to influencers for beauty guidance. In fact, 79% of Gen Z respondents said they would make a purchase after seeing an influencer recommendation.

In contrast, Millenials have more time for brands’ official marketing and are likely to connect with businesses on Facebook (70%), Instagram (64%) and Twitter (33%). They are also the most likely generation to buy after seeing an advert, watching a product video or reading a social media review.

And their platform preferences are different - while research shows both Gen Z and Millenials are keen users of YouTube, the percentage of Millennial Facebook users is more than double Gen Z.

Being aware of such differences, as well as the overall changing beauty landscape, is crucial if brands are to effectively market their products.

What Gen Z and Millenials care about 

Within beauty, skincare is a key area of focus for both Millennials and Gen Z. 

Research conducted last year by Klarna among US consumers found that although skincare was the most shopped-for beauty category across all age groups, a higher percentage of Gen Z (41%) and Millennial (40%) consumers say they spend most on skincare, compared to Gen X and Baby Boomers (both 31%). This feeds into growing makeup trends centred around minimal, ‘barely there’ makeup, reinforced by platforms like TikTok.

Then there’s the growing popularity of clean beauty and organic cosmetics which focus on natural ingredients.

But these demographics’ priorities are more than skin deep.

They’re displaying increasing concern about the ethics and social impact of their purchases: Klarna’s study also found that 40% of Gen Z and 31% of Millennials said diversity and inclusion was the most important brand value when shopping for beauty products.

And there’s the drive for sustainability. We’ve spoken before about the shift to sustainable products and packaging  within the industry and this is seen as critical among all demographics with 84% of consumers saying sustainability is important to them when making purchase decisions.

Targeting Millennials and Gen Z

So what should brands do to target the Gen Z and Millennial beauty consumer?

A core part is understanding that their traditional marketing tactics will need to evolve and they can’t turn their back on beauty innovations if their target audience are Millennials and Gen Z.

This means engaging these demographics in the channels they favour - in short, pursuing targeted marketing on their favourite social media platforms and moving the customer journey online to reflect the growing amount of time these consumers spend there.

For instance, this could mean building an e-sampling campaign that targets consumers online and allows them to claim their product sample digitally.

And we’ve also seen how, particularly with Gen Z, influencer marketing is only going to become more important for brands.

But it’s not just how brands reach Gen Z and Millennial consumers, it’s what they say. 

Personalised, tailored marketing is crucial in establishing a meaningful relationship between brand and consumer and encouraging them to buy.

Beyond a broader understanding of Gen Z and Millennials’ preferences and interests, through tactical collection of data, brands are able to understand the unique needs and preferences of individual consumers. This means they can make sure they are only showing customers content that is relevant to them.

Such granular understanding is crucial if brands wish to pursue tribal marketing and create content based around the differing preferences of differing consumer tribes.

Traditional Brands Targeting a New Audience

Brands aren’t confined by their original audience. In fact, in order to grow, any business needs to find ways to reach new demographics.

However, it can be daunting for brands to try something new. 

That’s why Odore’s beauty marketing platform was created to make launching intricate online campaigns as simple and easy as possible. Our drag and drop builder gives brands the ability to launch multi-channel marketing campaigns, collect, segment and utilise detailed consumer data and effectively collaborate with influencers.

Such Gen Z and Millennial marketing examples will help brands reach younger demographics even if they haven’t focused on them before.

But these tools aren’t just for individual businesses. It’s important agencies are also effectively and demonstrably reaching new generations if they’re to remain competitive and show clients they add value. With younger generations only growing in spending power, agencies need to prove they can help brands access these markets.

Working with Odore

Helping brands understand the unique preferences of their target demographics - and then catering to these - is a core part of what we do at Odore.

For example, we recently helped a skincare brand launch an online product sampling campaign that targeted consumers on social media and offered them a free product sample. Through careful targeting and engaging designs, our campaign achieved a strong opt-in rate of 73%.

This successful sampling campaign not only introduced new consumers to the brand and their products, it gathered valuable data around favourite competitor brands and skincare spend. This data now can help the brand in its product development as well as allowing for future tailored marketing and consumer re-engagement through data segmentation.

The ideas here aren’t an exhaustive list of the ways brands can reach new generations and what these demographics want to see. But it’s a key start for businesses of every size who are asking themselves the question - how to market to Millennials and Gen Z?

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