Gen Z to Beauty Brands: Want me to Buy? Let’s Talk

It’s easy to assume that Gen Zers, who are accustomed to having information served up to them, are averse to research.

But the opposite is true. And that is even more so in the beauty category, which has always been a very personal product purchase to begin with.

Gen Z is eager to leverage digital tools to research products, and their familiarity with how to do so makes them good at it. More than just looking into potential product purchases, they also want to talk about it.  Not just with their contemporaries, but with the brands themselves.

65% of Gen Zers say they turn to social media to share product reviews and use social platforms for product research. Similarly, McKinsey found that when it comes to Gen Z, loyalty and pricing are not the answer. Rather, sellers that want to reach the generation need to meet a “new degree of demands” and “engage in a dialogue with consumers, all the way through purchasing.”


Older generations have been comfortable with a more transactional relationship with brands driven by advertising and ending in a purchase. By contrast, Gen Z is actively seeking a trusted two-way relationship with brands — they want a brand that shares their values and makes the effort to understand their individual needs.

It’s All About Self-Expression

Where millennials may have prioritized simplicity, Gen Z is focused on creativity and self-expression, says former LVMH executive and investor Jorge Cosano. “Gen Z is going to be the generation that’s all about creativity,” he said. “They are very different; they’re willing to invest the time to discover themselves, to create content that reflects that.”

And nowhere is that more evident than in beauty and wellness products, which are the embodiment of self-reflection and self-nurturing.

Kyra Media’s Gen Z State of Beauty report found that Gen Z views skin care as an essential component of self-care and that it is the generation’s number-one priority in beauty spending. The report also found that customer online reviews are the most influential factor in Gen Z’s purchasing decisions, another sign of the generation’s willingness to research purchases.

To align with that need, brands should view marketing not as a presentation but as a conversation, and align with the emotional characteristics that make face-to-face give and take so effective:

  • Get Personal. It used to be about customization, now it is about personalization.  GenZ is on a mission to find themselves.  The research process is not just about information-gathering for them, it is about dialogue.  Technology can make the brand experience personalized and provide for interchange between consumer and brand, but it has to be implemented correctly.  Too much of a sell and you have turned the consumer off.  Instead, look to engage them in the process.  Selfie skin care analysis, for example, allows a consumer to participate in finding out more about themselves and their needs.  From there, a conversation is natural and easy to transition to, much in the manner that have always been so effective for main floor beauty consultants.  Now you can replicate and supplement that experience online.
  • Provide value. GenZ will not invest time just to learn about your brand.  They want to learn about themselves.  Provide value to them in terms of insight that they would never be able to attain through research alone.

AI can be an effective way to accomplish this. Revieve, for example, found that 80% of Gen Zers who completed our AI Skin Advisor experience, which provides analysis of uploaded selfies, opted to subsequently receive product recommendations. That is compared with just 68% of other generations who opted to do so. Similarly, 23% of Gen Z navigated to the product detail page after receiving product recommendations, compared to just 17% of other generations.

  • Discuss. One of the downsides of digital-first engagement with consumers is the loss of the human touch.  Beauty advisors traditionally supplied this as the only human personification of a brand. But technology can address this if there is an emphasis on using personalization to not only provide custom insights for the consumer but a platform to engage directly with a brand.  Gen Zers want to talk.  It is how they research. 

Gen Z is a different and complicated target to reach and be successful with.  But like all generations before them, they want information.  However, they want to probe deeper and have a human connection with the brands they favor to learn what they want.  Technology can help enable this, but only if the unique manner in which the Gen Z Path To Purchase is considered in order to make marketing more about conversation than presentation.

Sampo Parkkinen is the CEO and Founder of Revieve, a leading beauty-technology company and the creators of the Digital Beauty Advisor, the ultimate form of personalization in the customer experience for beauty shoppers. As a serial entrepreneur in helping retailers and brands leverage technology in order to gain a competitive advantage, Parkkinen is a sought-after guest speaker and expert in providing solutions that create tangible long-term value to consumers through the customer experience, resulting in increased operational results for retailers and brands. As the author of several patents, Parkkinen is also well versed in understanding the very cutting edge of technological innovation.

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