Gen Z gets beauty inspiration from people they “know,” but YouTube is their go-to source for product recommendation and because cost is a top priority, they like to buy at big-box stores and drugstores.
Those are the key takeaways from the latest 2018 Beauty Insights Survey from Sweety High, a digital media company for Gen Z females between the ages of 12 and 22. And there’s one other interesting factoid: They have little interest in subscription boxes.
Sweety High was founded in 2009, and funding is from several high-net-worth individuals. Frank Simonetti is the cofounder and chief executive officer, and his background is in the entertainment and content business sectors.
According to Simonetti, “The concept that online buying is killing retail as we know it isn’t happening in beauty, which is a social buying process for Gen Z. It’s the hallmark for girls to show their financial independence on their terms. It’s having luxury goods they can afford, even if they’re not rich. They can’t do that with shoes and handbags; it’s just not doable.”
The survey’s data shows that Gen Z looks to their friends, at 59 percent, and the people they follow on social media, at 50 percent, for beauty trend inspiration. But they head to YouTube, at 68 percent, as their go-to source for product recommendations. Their friends rank second at 55 percent and Instagram follows at 50 percent.
Because cost is a factor — 63 percent spend $25 to $50 per month on beauty products — 69 percent head to big-box retailers to make their skin-care purchases, followed by 45 percent who frequent drugstores and 32 percent who buy at beauty brand stores. The top two spots remained the same for makeup and hair-care purchases: 66 and 72 percent, respectively, for the big-box retailers, and 52 percent and 46 percent, respectively, for hair-care buys. The third spot shifted slightly depending on category: For makeup, 47 percent chose Ulta, while for hair care, 26 percent chose salons.
While Selena Gomez (45 percent), Zendaya (37 percent) and Kylie Jenner (28 percent) can be key influencers for beauty cues, the people Gen Z girls follow on social media don’t have to be celebrities. Influencers can be a friend who lives down the street, or a sports star if one is interested in gymnastics or swimming, the ceo said. “The key here is the social world they are in where everyone is connected, who they follow and who is following them,” the ceo said.
Simonetti added that the data on where they buy the products they eventually choose to purchase makes perfect sense when one considers their path to shopping. “There’s a lot of skill involved in beauty and hair. They go to YouTube to understand the products and which ones they might want to buy, and then go to the stores to try the products before making their selection. They want that experience of trying it on in the store,” he said.
While only one in five said they were shopping online exclusively, that’s also a 750 percent year-over-year increase, with Amazon capturing more than a third of the online beauty buys for skin care, makeup and hair care.
As for subscription boxes, only 25 percent cited an interest in the latest survey, representing a year-over-year drop of 60 percent. Fifty-six percent said they have no interest in subscriptions such as Birchbox and Ipsy.
Simonetti said of Gen Z: “The real truth is they don’t want to roll the dice anymore. There are a lot of subscription boxes, and whoever is running the companies get items that they could strike deals with certain companies. The economics of how you got a box assembled at a [certain] price point means that no one is curating the beauty selection.…They don’t want a box every month only to get a few things they want and a bunch of things they don’t want.”
And if Millennials are deemed not to have any brand loyalty, don’t expect that to change with Gen Z. According to Simonetti: “Brand loyalty in beauty is less than it used to be. If you’re a company that makes a good product, and it’s new, they will buy you.”