In CEW’s latest virtual event, a slew of data firms took the beauty industry’s pulse, from burgeoning categories to an undercurrent of changing consumer attitudes.
The event, which took place via Zoom on Thursday, featured presentations from Sparks & Honey, Mintel, Spate, Google, NielsenIQ and The NPD Group.
Kicking off the presentation was Sparks & Honey, a cultural intelligence agency, which covered the value systems that informs Gen Z’s purchasing decisions.
Gen Z consumers are less interested in conforming, said Courtney Emery, vice president of product strategy for Sparks & Honey. “They are a generation defined by being unapologetically themselves.”
Equally important, Emery said, is the social responsibility expected from brands. “Diversity and inclusion efforts and inclusivity are really being disrupted by the younger generation — even price point transparency and financial inclusivity,” she said.
The waxing importance of inclusivity is due in part to the generation’s diversity, she said. “They are the first generation that is almost half non-white, and they’re also the most gender-fluid and sexually fluid generation,” she said.
The phenomenon is manifesting in new frontiers, too, such as “anti-ableist design,” and the idea of using products with one hand instead of two.
Emery also called the generation “our climate champions, they are very aware of the impact that their choices have on the environment,” adding that “43 percent of Gen Zers feel guilty for shopping at Amazon, but a majority do not give it up because they’re digitally native.…But they are willing to pay a bit more for sustainable products.”
Mintel’s Sarah Jindal, the firm’s senior innovation and insights analyst of beauty and personal care, has seen similar shifts in other generations, too. “All consumers around the globe are looking to do their part in different ways,” she said. “This really represents a growing demand in the market for companies to do more and help move the needle on big issues like climate change.”
Some messages from brands, though, resonate more than others. “We’ve seen a lot of fear-based messaging when it pertains to sustainability as a way to get consumers to do more for the greater good, but fear can create hurdles for brands and consumers alike,” Jindal added.
“Brands need to show that there is that commitment, and if they can demonstrate that visibly, they’ll gain more favor with consumers,” she continued.
On the search engine front, beauty queries overall are trending upward, with 30 percent growth in 2021 compared to 2019, according to Flynn Matthews, Google’s head of insights and measurement for CPG. “Makeup has returned to a bit of normalcy,” Matthews added.
Yarden Horwitz, co-founder of Spate, added that for skin care, “clinical is still top of mind for consumers,” and for hair care, “Olaplex is just crushing it by a landslide,” with “massstige” brands like Monday Haircare seeing quadruple-digit growth.
The trend toward mid-price-point products has also overtaken the market. “With total beauty, no matter what type of product, there is a huge blurring of the line between prestige, mass and direct-to-consumer,” said Tara James Taylor, senior vice president of the personal care vertical, NielsenIQ, adding that there was significant share growth for the online channel.
For prestige beauty, though, The NPD Group has seen brick-and-mortar still reaching higher volumes than digital sales. Other categories, such as hair care and fragrance, have seen increased penetration with new consumers, said Larissa Jensen, beauty industry adviser of The NPD Group.
Instagram-native brands also took a hit, Jensen said, noting that brands in the same category as Jeffree Star, ColourPop and Glossier faced “the steepest losses.”
The year’s top launches by category were Olaplex’s No. 8 Bond Intensive Moisture Mask for hair care, Clinique’s Moisture Surge 100H Auto Replenishing Hydrator in skin care, the Dior Addict Lip Glow Balm in makeup, and Flora by Gucci Gorgeous Gardenia eau de parfum in fragrance, said Jensen.
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