The beauty industry—and the concept of beauty—is being redefined by Generation Z, the young but world-weary (thanks to a lifetime spent on smartphones) sector that is reinventing culture right before our eyes. New survey-based insights from research and advisory firm Gen Z Planet reveal this dramatic shift—and industry brands that ignore their behaviors and preferences risk losing their relevance.
The firm’s new study, In the Eye of the Beholder, shows that in contrast with previous generations who viewed beauty as a vehicle for social acceptance and external validation, Gen Z consumers view beauty as a means to self-expression and self-care—an “inside-out” view of beauty instead of “outside-in.”
Gen Z is an active beauty consumer
Two-thirds (66 percent) of more than 1,000 surveyed say they use skincare products every day and report an annual average spend of $290 on skincare and makeup. Yet winning a share of their wallet—or their loyalty—seems hard to come by. Some brands have managed to crack the code: Cerave, for example, tops the list of Gen Z favorite brands for skincare.
“Gen Z desires a new kind of beauty, one that is more authentic, inclusive, personalized, purposeful, affordable, and experiential—and brands have to work harder to meet these expectations,” said Hana Ben-Shabat, Gen Z Planet’s founder, who led the study, in a news release.
Digital natives, but not in-store averse
The report also indicates that Gen Zers, who have been associated with everything digital, love to shop in physical stores. However, only 7 percent of Gen Z shop for beauty products in department stores—raising important questions about the future of the venue that was once the beauty-category stronghold.
“Gen Z is not only changing the beauty game—they are completely rewriting its rules,” said Ben-Shabat. “To cater to this generation, brands will have to innovate on all fronts: product development, go-to-market strategies, marketing, and communication. Resonating with Gen Z means securing the customer of the future and being able to shape the future of the industry.”
The report is based on a survey of 1178 teen and young women ages 16-24 which was conducted in 2022. The sample composition aligned with the U.S. Census.