Analysis: Gen-Z asks for expressive, climate-proof beauty
According to Instagram’s 2023 Trend Report, which was compiled in partnership with WGSN, it’s going to be a year shaped by 3 words: “Healing,” “Energized,” and “Main Character Energy.” That sounds like a big year, with bountiful opportunities for beauty communities to support consumers as they grow and thrive in their everyday lives.
Climate crisis hits a generation of activists
Let’s start with healing. “The impacts of climate change are driving Gen Z shoppers to buy protective skincare and beauty products,” with “2 out of 3 Gen Z shoppers [who] plan to buy skincare or beauty products that protect against extreme weather and the sun. Issues like rising air pollution and intense UV rays are driving purchases for climate-proof products.” Gen Z has been climate-focused since before they were teens, and as they now grow into the age where they enter the workforce and start families of their own, they’re learning more about the myriad effects that climate change can have. Brands in the beauty space can support consumers through this by offering products designed to support their health goals, and by communicating clearly on what benefits are offered through their routines.
In 2023, an energized Gen Z will (continue to) shop to support causes they care about, advocate for people with disabilities, and participate in politics, says the report. Here, can find areas of opportunity in innovations, such as accessible packaging and whole-body healthcare. Brands can also take action on certain social issues, as many have done in the past few years, where their mission aligns with the national stage. Gen Z is also (of course) deeply involved digitally, so brands can benefit from a symbiotic relationship with their communities if they listen to their consumers’ priorities and participate authentically.
Self-expression is beautiful
Speaking of authenticity: WGSN kicks off the section of their 2023 WGSN x Instagram report on “Climate & Expressive Beauty” by noting: “For Gen Z, makeup and beauty products are a form of self-expression,” and “[m]ore Gen Z consumers are likely to use makeup to express their personality than augment their feeling of beauty.” Gen Z, we couldn’t agree more. Broader self-acceptance for all humans is something we love to see – after all, nothing enhances your life like feeling good. Makeup can be a great way to get a little bit of play back into the every day, and inject a bit of fun into an otherwise mundane task like applying daily moisturizer and sunscreen. (We’ve been talking about this for quite some time, actually.)
According to the same report, 67% of Gen Z Instagram users “feel avatars should better reflect diverse body types, clothing, and skin tones in the coming year,” something that is echoed in Mintel’s recent blog post “Understanding Gen Zs: The Beauty Activists,” which focuses on Thai consumers. Mintel notes that Gen Z is redefining beauty standards, with a key shift being in diversity. Citing brands such as Mistine, a Thai color cosmetics giant, and L’Oréal Paris, Mintel spotlights how brands can help consumers double down on their authenticity by spotlighting their diversity. From shade-matching to personalization, to universal offerings across makeup categories (i.e., moving beyond traditional, highly gendered makeup marketing), there are many ways brands can grow and strengthen their digital communities – bringing consumers together by celebrating their differences.
Whatever your brand’s focus, 2023 is filled with opportunity, as long as you focus on your core consumer’s needs – and approach them with authenticity.
Director, Corporate Strategy and Mission at Solésence Beauty Science
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