SKU’d Thoughts
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SKU’d Thoughts

SKU’d Thoughts 49: How is Gen Z shaping the men’s beauty landscape?

When I first started working in consumer packaged goods (CPG) in the mid-2000s, brands were obsessed with appealing to Millennials. Fast-forward to today, Generation Z (Gen Z) is now whose wallets brands are chasing. And understandably so. A recent report from Bank of America estimates that by 2031, Gen Zers will surpass millennials in income and have a spending power of $33 trillion dollars. Although both generations have similarities, the differences will prove to be a large opportunity for CPG companies who want to build loyalty with Gen Z consumers.

They are the largest, most diverse and the most educated generation yet. The generation has also taken a holistic approach to health. According to a IRi study, 66% of Gen Zers reported “Feeling Good About Who I Am” is a part of being healthy, and 62% cited “Staying Positive” as a major contributor to health. This sentiment around health explains how this generation has destigmatized topics widely held as taboo such as mental health, gender, and sexuality. This generational attitude of acceptance means consumer brands are no longer boxed into an archaic definition of the ideal customer when it comes to certain product categories.

One segment of consumer brands that has been experiencing this sea change is the men’s beauty category. In the past, beauty products were mostly manufactured and marketed to women. The category rarely catered to men and the concept of beauty for men was rarely explored because of what society defined as masculine. But in recent years, men’s grooming has gone beyond the basics of shaving and fragrance as the demand for cleansers, face wash, and sunscreen outpaces that of shave care essentials. This demand for nonessential personal care and beauty products for men is set to increase as more Gen Zers, who often challenge the status quo and want to stand out, push the beauty category into a genderless space. A 2019 Morning Consult survey revealed that 30% of men under the age of 30 were interested in or would consider using beauty products.

Given this pending opportunity in men’s beauty, who is poised to capture the upside? The category has traditionally been dominated by large established players like L’Oreal and Shiseido who often distribute their products through channels like Sephora, Ulta or a department store counter. This distribution strategy could potentially alienate some men because of an intimidating shopping experience. In recent years, various upstarts entered the men’s cosmetic segment with similar go-to-market strategies of launching with a concealer. One brand, Faculty, entered the space with a bolder strategy by launching with nail lacquer as its initial product. This unique positioning as a brand of true self-expression was one of the many reasons I was excited to invest in the brand alongside Estèe Lauder.

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