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.
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.
To read the full report, click here.