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Deep Dive: Gen Z and Beauty—the Social Media Symbiosis

Executive Summary

This report is part of our new series, The New Beauty Consumer, which looks at various aspects of beauty retailing and consumption.

  • Gen Z is the first generation to use social media in their formative years, and it is pressuring teens to look good. According to a survey by the American Psychological Association, nearly one-third of US teen girls feel bad when comparing themselves with others they see on social media, and other studies have found links between social media usage and low self-esteem.
  • We think these kinds of pressures will drive up spending on beauty products and services and fitness services. US teens are already growing their spending on beauty; the category’s share of spending among upper-income female teens grew to its highest level ever in fall 2016.
  • When shopping for beauty products, young consumers turn to social media, and especially video content, for advice. The volume of beauty content on YouTube rocketed by 200% between 2015 and 2016, and female consumers ages 13–24 make up fully 47% of the audience for these videos.
  • Gen Z’s oldest members are on the cusp of adulthood, and we expect this generation’s demands to be a factor in future beauty industry mergers and acquisitions (M&A). Large, established multibrand companies are likely to acquire beauty brands that resonate with Gen Zers as the generation’s spending power accelerates.

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