Today’s teenagers are the first generation to have grown up alongside social media. Their childhoods have been documented on their parents’ Facebook pages; now they’re establishing their own personas on Snapchat and Instagram. An emphasis on visual content has shaped the way Generation Z teens perceive themselves and research shows it’s having an effect on their self-esteem—68% of girls and 55% of boys say their appearance is a somewhat or very significant source of stress, and 30% of girls and 13% of boys feel bad when comparing themselves to others on social media. In fact, 57% of teenagers say that social media is one of the biggest sources of pressure to look good, second only to peer pressure (68%).
Increasingly, teens are turning to makeup and skincare brands to help them look and feel better about their appearance. In turn, brands have an opportunity to empower teens, help to boost their self-confidence, and nurture a new generation of consumers.
Cosmetics Spending Up Among Teens
The aspiration to look “Instaworthy” has teens spending more on makeup than ever before. Among upper-income teenagers, investment in the category is at its highest level ever—as of fall 2016, teens were spending over 11% of their discretionary income on beauty, this is up a full 2% year-over-year. Teens spent $2.3 billion in the category in 2016, representing about 7% of the total U.S. skincare market and 6% of cosmetics.
It’s Not Just for Girls!
What do girls want? Flirty lashes and perfect skin! More than half of all teen girls are investing in mascara and almost half are using foundation or concealer. But it’s not just girls who are taking their appearance seriously, among boys, four-in-ten are using facial cleansing products, cologne, and lip-care products. Generation Z is much more accepting of non-traditional gender roles and representations of masculinity and femininity and this is driving a more democratized approach to makeup by established and indie brands alike—for instance, Cover Girl named James Charles its first Cover Boy last year, and, more recently, Milk Makeup’s Blur the Lines campaign for Blur Stick featured both men and women and was produced in partnership with men’s beauty publication Very Good Light.
Social Media Drives Beauty and Beauty Drives Social
Visually-focused social media and the beauty market are symbiotic; images on social media heightens pressures on young people to look more attractive, but it also serves as a source of inspiration and expertise when learning about and shopping for the products that will help them to create their image. Sixty-five percent of teen girls turn to YouTube to learn how to create a new style or use a beauty product and 56% follow beauty brands on social media. GenZ’ers and young Millennials are the leading consumers of YouTube beauty content—female viewers ages 13-24 make up 47% of the YouTube beauty audience and have made celebrities out of influencers like Zoella and Ella Victoria. Since teens are so accustomed to communicating with their peers on social media, they perceive these vloggers as trusted friends—enhancing their scope of influence on this demographic.
The Brands and Retailers That Matter
Teens prefer brands that are affordable, aspirational, or, ideally, both. Among the top brands are MAC, CoverGirl, Maybelline, and Urban Decay, with indie brands Too Faced, Anastasia Beverly Hills, and L’Oreal-owned NYX strong favorites among Gen Z. But, a survey of the “coolest” brands found that up-and-comers like OUAI, Milk, The Estee Edit, Pat McGrath Labs, Kylie Cosmetics, Lano, Babe, and Saturday Skin are emerging as aspirational brands for this generation and may indicate consumer preferences for natural, woman-led, and celebrity brands.
Specialty retailers Ulta and Sephora hold a wide margin as favorite shopping destinations for this generation, indicating that the experience of discovery and the ability to try new products is critical. But the reality of limited budgets indicates that teens are shopping more at Walmart, Target, Walgreens, CVS, and Sally Beauty.
As this generation matures and their earning capacity increases, we can anticipate that they will invest more in beauty. Brands have an opportunity to engage this consumer early on by understanding their priorities and shopping preferences. Women’s Marketing offers deep insight into the consumers that matter to brands. Discover how our suite of targeted marketing services can help your brand reach them when and where they’re most receptive to your message.
Sources; Fung Global Retail & Technology Deep Dive: Gen Z and Beauty-The Social Media Symbiosis 2017