Millennials and Beauty: Serving the Eye of a New Generation of Beholders

According to a recent Future in Focus report, by 2017 the
Millennial generation, also known as Gen Y, is predicted to surpass the boomer generation
in spending power and become the most active spenders of the first half of the
21st century. The report dove into Millennial consumer behavior regarding
beauty, identifying and exploring attitudes and values that will shape their
purchasing patterns over the next decade.
Shaped by the digital age and the economic recession, this large
generation of 70 million in the U.S. has different priorities, shopping
behaviors, and attitudes from other generations. In fact, this always-connected
generation has concerns about their l finances that the older generation of
spenders did not at their age, and they are more ethnically and racially
diverse than any generation before them.  In fact, among adults age 18 to 29, just 61%
are Caucasian (compared to 70% of older adults), while 19% are Hispanic (vs.
13% of older adults), 14% African-American (vs. 11%), and 5% Asian. In
addition, Millennials are economically diverse’with one-third being lower
income, one-third middle income, and one-third upper income.
Millennials are the first to grow up with ubiquitous
information so they tend to have an affinity for the digital age and are always
connected. Five of six (83%) say they sleep with a mobile phone next to their
bed, compared to just 57% of all adults. They also use the Internet primarily
as a social tool, with 75% reporting having a profile on social media. And 80%
of younger Millennial social media users (i.e., 18 to 24 years old) connect
with their platforms several times a day. But this constant connection applies
to their consumer lives as well: 41% regularly use their phones to compare
prices while shopping, compared to just 26% of boomers.
This generation was hit hard by the Great Recession. As late
as 2012, 32% of Millennial shoppers reported having difficulty affording
groceries, compared to just 22% of the overall population. As a result, Gen Y
tends to be more frugal than older generations. In 2013, 22% of Millennials
(compared to just 17% of Xers and 14% of boomers) said they were putting more
money into savings during the previous year.  Still, Millennials have made beauty and
personal-care rituals part of their culture no matter the economic situation. They
are developing attitudes regarding beauty that will influence the products they
seek. Six of the most pervasive attitudes are beauty is a fun way to express
oneself; beauty is worth the expense; beauty is way more than skin deep; you’re
never too young for anti-aging; do-it-yourself beauty ; beauty is not just for
women and; beauty is a fun way to express oneself.
Image via Katie
Tegtmeyer (flickr)

Research by Mintel suggests that Millennial women associate
beauty with fun more than women of older generations. For instance, two out of
three 18- to 24-year-old women (65%) enjoy the ritual of putting on makeup’a
share nearly 50% higher than that of all women (45%). Nearly two in three Gen Y
women say they wear makeup every day, and nearly half (48%) say they spend more
than 10 minutes putting on makeup. In addition to having fun with it, most
Millennials see beauty care as another way to express themselves. More than two
in three women age 18 to 24 (69%) say they wear makeup that expresses their
personality, compared to just 55% of all women. Their ability to express
themselves through beauty may be part of the reason that almost all (94%) Gen Y
women say that makeup helps them feel more confident.
Millennials seem to think that enhancing their beauty is
worth the expense. In fact, they spend more than the average shopper on beauty
and personal care categories. Millennial shoppers spend over 25% more than
average US shoppers on such products as body scrubbers, shampoo, conditioner,
styling gels or mousses, and suntan products, and 20% more on cosmetics.  A significant majority (75%) of Millennial women
say they don’t mind spending money on makeup because it makes them feel good.
Additionally, unlike older generations, Millennials are more
attuned to skincare and anti-aging benefits at an early age. According to NPD,
39% of older Millennial women (those age 25 to 34) say that anti-aging is an
important benefit that they look for in skincare products. While younger
Millennials are often still dealing with acne, older Millennials are growing
aware that changes in their skin during early adulthood may mark the beginning
of an aging process.
But, Millennials take a more self-driven, DIY approach to
beauty care. Although influenced by their frugal nature, Millennials’
do-it-yourself approach to beauty may also be motivated by the fun they have
experimenting with new products. Millennials are twice as likely as the overall
population to embrace self-reliant, home-based beauty behaviors and at-home
beauty products.
Driven by social media and the increasing competitiveness of
the job market, Millennial men also think beauty matters too. They are putting
a greater emphasis than older generations did on looking and dressing their
best, which involves both fashion and grooming. In 2013, more than three in
four men (76%) said that the pressure on men to dress well and be well groomed
had increased. Nearly as many (73%) think that men now face as much pressure in
these respects as women do. For Millennial men, grooming is increasingly seen
as a component of healthy living, like exercise and eating well.  
From beauty companies’ point of view, Millennials are at a
critical stage in their lives. Millennials are establishing beauty and skincare
habits and consumer patterns that are likely to persist throughout their
lifetime. So, the companies and brands that win Gen Y consumers are likely to
retain these consumers for the long term.  

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About the Author:
Amanda Ciccatelli, Social Media Strategist of the Marketing Division at IIR USA, has a background in digital and
print journalism, covering a variety of topics in business strategy, marketing,
and technology. Amanda is the Editor at Large for several of IIR’s blogs
including Next Big DesignCustomers 1stDigital Impact, STEAM Accelerator and ProjectWorld and World Congress for Business
, and a regular contributor to Front End of Innovation and The Market Research Event,.
She previously worked at Technology Marketing Corporation as a Web Editor where
she covered breaking news and feature stories in the technology industry. She
can be reached at Follow her at @AmandaCicc.