How Gen Z is Changing the Landscape of Cosmetics Buying

The cosmetics industry is always ready to turn on a dime. And it seems when it comes to younger consumers, they will have to make a big turn.

When it comes to Gen Z, these young adult consumers embrace the concept of individuality and authenticity. Their take on beauty is to be yourself. And they are changing the face of the cosmetics industry.

No to Tradition, Yes to Innovation

Gen Z consumers are looking less to traditional beauty products and more to young brands and skin care products, according to a survey taken by investment company Piper Jaffrey. Their semi-annual report Taking Stock With Teens surveys 9,500 Gen Z consumers across 42 different states to understand their spending habits and preferences. According to the information it gleaned, there seems to be a shift in behavior away from traditional cosmetics companies toward young brands and skin care products.

Reprioritization of Spending

Younger consumers have been reprioritizing spending habits. Cosmetic sales for this demographic is down 20 percent from last year’s survey. This is the lowest it has been in nearly a decade. In fact, this very thing was reported by CNBC recently, citing that sales of large brands of prestige cosmetics have been soft since the end of 2017. This is expected to continue as young consumers swear off traditional makeup for younger brands.

Diversity and Inclusion

Because of their more diverse beauty standards, they are demanding products that are marketed to people of different colors and genders. Since 2016, there has been an increase in gender-neutral makeup and “manpering” is definitely a trend. For Gen Z, it’s all about defying traditional norms.

Brick and Mortar Still Factors

Today’s cosmetics retailers are having to rethink how to reach and engage Gen Z. Although younger consumers do still buy the majority of their makeup from brick and mortar stores such as Ulta, e-commerce is making a huge impact.

According to Piper Jaffray’s survey, 4 percent cited as their favorite beauty retailer. Amazon’s foray into beauty and cosmetics seems to be successful since the launch of two private labels this year. That being said, Gen Z consumers still like to come into a store and experience the products before purchasing them for the first time.

The Digital Landscape

Gen Z is fluent in digital and grew up on YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat. These platforms have enabled them to distinguish themselves with brands they have found online, ones that allow them to look good online.

Looking good in photos is important to them and where better to find these products than in photographs and videos themselves? Viacom found that 32 percent of Gen Zers relied on YouTube video tutorials to create “their” look. Some of these beauty vloggers have become top influencers in the industry.

Skin Care Interest

While the sales of traditional makeup brands are down for these consumers, there seems to be a rise in interest in skin care. These run the spectrum from cleansing wipes to masks and serums. In the case of Amazon, their products have price tags of $40 and less.

Diversity and Acceptance

As the cosmetics industry morphs and changes to accommodate the needs of Gen Z, the good news is that the beauty industry will become more diverse and accepting to match its consumers. This is a good thing.

At APG, we understand the ever-changing beauty industry and make it our business to stay ahead of trends to ensure that we are supporting our customers. Contact us at (626) 385-5858 or email us at to see how we can make your products stand out to your given demographic.