In a digitally connected and technologically driven era, where Instagram holds more power in building reputations than in-person interactions, beauty products are a hot topic. When it comes to building identity for Millennial consumers, perhaps no other brand vertical is quite as powerful, either. After all, beauty products – whether makeup, hair care, skin care, etc. – are, in nature, all about aesthetic: My look defines who I am.
As such, Millennials are driving the majority of sales in the $13 billion cosmetics market – particularly Millennial women. They are more heavily engaged in this category than their mother and grandmother before them, and a significant portion of their engagement comes through social media. According to research by Mintel, the amount of time spent on beauty routines and the level of skill and willingness to experiment with products is higher among this generational cohort than any other.
With such high involvement across the beauty market, it’s evident that missing the mark with these Millennials is not an option. For brands in the space, this requires an understanding of Millennials’ expectations from products and services, as well as their unique attitudes and behaviors. We have identified three ways for beauty brands to get started on winning Millennial brand love:
Be socially accessible
The market today is absorbed in social media and modern consumers are leading the charge. From when they wake up in the morning to the moment their heads hit the pillow at night, consumers’ lives are molded by the content and media they choose to consume. This consumption directly impacts the beauty brands they use. According to Mintel, Millennials are the generation most likely to use online content to learn about beauty products: 31 percent use YouTube (a la Michelle Phan), 22 percent use Pinterest and 27 percent use a combination of social media platforms. And when it comes to what’s influencing Millennials beauty purchases, 66 percent report that they trust the recommendations of “online entities” (such as YouTube vloggers and social influencers) and 80 percent want to see how makeup they are interested in looks on their favorite “beauty gurus.”
Once they find their inspiration, Millennials are then showcasing their selections on visual social platforms. Smart brands are capitalizing on this trend, such as Benefit Cosmetics, which has focused the majority of their social media budgets on Instagram specifically. According to the brand, there was a rise in brick-and-mortar purchases after consumers were exposed to specific product features via the brand’s Instagram account.
The brands who consistently win with Millennials are using social frequently and authentically by recognizing that the right reviews from the right people (aka leveraging the right influencer partnerships) matter as much as cool products.
Stand for more than the bottom line
Regardless of how contradictory it might seem, Millennials also want the products they use to be about more than just what “looks good.” Through our research, we discovered that Millennials over-index on brands that stand for a greater purpose than their bottom line. Rather than focusing only on product offerings, this requires brands to promote a brand mission that stands for something more than revenue.
Dove, for example, is well known for its girl power mantra and has delved into the space of promoting both beauty and body confidence for all. The #MyBeautyMySay campaign specifically addressed the importance of unique identity and the celebration of beauty without boundaries, with women’s boxing champion Heather Hardy and gender-queer Rain Dove selected as spokespersons. Over the past decade, Dove has consistently won with Millennials and the consumers from other generations that they influence via the Millennial Mindset®.
Ensure a frictionless journey
The heightened expectations of modern consumers as a result of the far-reaching power of digital connectivity has also led to the demand of a seamless customer experience at every touchpoint with brands. Whether in-person or online, this means consumers are seeking a consumer journey that has little or no barriers to purchase – what we like to call a “frictionless journey.” If Millennials can’t easily access a brand’s products from wherever they are, including on their smartphones – on which 65 percent of female Millennials have purchased cosmetics – then they will not think twice about seeking out another brand’s services, especially when it comes to a purchase that is as individually meaningful as beauty products.
The definition, requirements and trends of beauty will only continue to evolve as Millennials age and Generation Z takes on a greater role in the market. Maintaining awareness of what modern consumers expect and seek in the space will be key for brands aiming to win their love and loyalty.