Throughout history, those that defined culture also defined what it meant to be beautiful. Twentieth-century tastemakers, such as editors, movie moguls, and department store buyers, dictated the trends and consumers followed. The patterns were predictable—the pendulum swung between the curvy bombshells of the 50’s and 80’s, to the androgynous slim-hipped, wide-eyed waifs of the 60’s and 90’s. Over the past decade, the evolution of social media has been a springboard for change, offering women (and men) the opportunity to challenge outdated beauty standards, effectively elevating beauty from a hashtag to a culture.
Beyond Products, Beauty as A Cultural Movement
As the most ardent users of social media, Millennials and an emerging Gen Z have been instrumental in driving this shift. Technology offers them the ability to connect with like-minded people and share their ideas with a global community. These flourishing communities, with their constant feedback loops, has given them more confidence than previous generations. In fact, 86% agree that the “biggest change in culture today is the freedom to express yourself however you want.” In other words when it comes to beauty, it’s not simply about product—but product as a medium for self-expression.
OTT Beauty is More About Art, Than Life
It seems that this year every fad has had its Instagram moment—glitter eyes, wavy brows, and of course, the ubiquitous lip drip. These over-the-top looks aren’t necessarily made for the street, influencers #doitforthegram. It’s art imitating a stylized version of life, mesmerizing to look at, surprising, and above all, highly creative. Digital hasn’t just sparked beauty trends, it’s empowered the consumer to experiment with beauty and create looks once only seen on the covers of glossy magazines. Today, consumers and indie brands are setting the trends and established brands are scrambling to catch up. One only must look to the lip kit craze or brow boom for proof.
Going Deeper: The Search for Meaning through Beauty
What began as a wellness movement has grown to include demand for ethical and environmental claims in beauty. Millennials and Gen Z consumers are avoiding products tested on animals and seeking botanically derived ingredients. Now the trend is shifting once again as consumers take inspiration from the global cultures of their ancestors and exploring ancient healing practices such as Ayurveda, saunas, and the use of turmeric in both topical and ingestible beauty. In fact, two thirds of young people say they are interested in learning about ancient beauty and health practices from other countries. The ritualistic nature of many of these practices are appealing as they force consumers to disconnect and relax…after they’ve posted their Instagram Story.
As consumers continue to evolve, their choices about the products they buy and how they use those products to express their individuality will change. It’s an exciting time for beauty brands as they help consumers learn more about themselves and challenge what it means to be beautiful.
Women’s Marketing has deep experience in understanding what inspires women on the path to purchase. Contact us today to learn how we turn deep insights into marketing strategy.
Sources: FoMO Beautycon Media and Culture Co-op 2017, Buzz Marketing Ethical Fashion & Beauty 2017