Gen Z turning beauty ‘emotional’, say trend experts

By Kacey Culliney contact

- Last updated on GMT

Gen Z are 'very young but conscious' - they want fun and purpose combined, says a trend expert (Getty Images)
Gen Z are 'very young but conscious' - they want fun and purpose combined, says a trend expert (Getty Images)

Related tags: Gen Z, Beauty, beauty packaging, Sustainable packaging, Consumer trends

Generation Z are looking for playful beauty experiences to counter their anxiety about the future but also expect all products to be inherently sustainable and designed with purpose, say trend experts.

Generation Z – consumers currently aged under 23 years – represented around 32% of the global population in 2019, nudging ahead of millennials, according to Bloomberg analysis of United Nations data. An increasingly important demographic for the beauty sector, manufacturers have increasingly geared product development and innovation towards their needs – needs very different to previous generations.

Gen Z are 'very young but conscious' 

“Generation Z has really shifted the beauty industry into an emotional industry. And that, to us, is a very important fact,” ​said Charlotte Delobelle, European brand ambassador at New York-headquartered trend bureau Fashion Snoops.

Addressing attendees in Paris at ADF&PCD two weeks ago, Delobelle said one important trend within this was ‘play’. Generation Z, she said, were seeking out fun amid wider anxieties related to the future – 45%, for example, associated beauty with being confident yet respectful of sustainability.

“They are very young but conscious …They don’t think ‘luxury’ or ‘mass market’; what they want is a product with purpose, but they want to have fun at the same time. They don’t have specific codes and they’re not scared to mix and match things, and they’re a very interesting generation because they’re so conscious of the world.”

Alnoor Mitha de Bharat, designer and founder of packaging design agency Objets de Convoitises, agreed and said Generation Z were certainly on the lookout for “experiences”​ and “fun”​ in beauty.

“In decoration, therefore, there are a few things that are very important. The last thing that is effectively the biggest challenge is sustainability – to create products for this generation that keep a good quality but are also coherent with their ethics and ideas,” ​Mitha de Bharat said.

“…This new generation no longer consider beauty as luxury; they integrate it as natural and ethical. That will be the future for everyone.”

Juicy colours, tactile textures and mood fragrances – Gen Z want ‘sensorial’ beauty


Delobelle said across fashion and beauty, Generation Z consumers were showing a clear sense of nostalgia – preferring juicy, flashy colours, tactile textures and stitching, for example.

“Something I want to insist on is when you want to address Gen Z, in terms of creativity in packaging, is that they want sensorial. They want smell and touch, but they also expect experience in a product. This comes from an Instagram generation. Now the new on is Tic Toc.”

For fragrances and perfumes, this was especially the case, she said.

“Don’t forget, Gen Z want experience because they also think a lot about their mood and how they feel.”

To tap into both their sensorial needs and sustainable expectations, Delobelle said there was plenty that could be done with the likes of ridged glass or re-purposed denim in beauty packaging, among other things.

Mitha de Bharat suggested placing a renewed importance on art and integrating artists into beauty branding, particularly those with ecological ideas – fast-increasing in numbers on social media.

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