‘Targeting Millennials in Beauty Innovation’

in-cosmetics North America
Seminar: ‘Targeting Millennials in Beauty Innovation’
Where:  in the Marketing Trends & Regulations Theatre
When: 11 October 2017 at 12.45 p.m. to 1.30 p.m.
For more information, please visit http://www.in-cosmeticsnorthamerica.com

Thomas Vierhile

NEW YORK – Millennials are a difficult demographic to attract. That’s no surprise to many marketers, especially those who work in the beauty industry. Luckily, in-cosmetics North America will return to New York City on October 11-12 and will feature a new Marketing Trends program that will offer a seminar entitled ‘Targeting Millennials in Beauty Innovation.’ Thomas Vierhile, the Innovation Insights Director of GlobalData PLC, will host the highly-anticipated session.  The seminar will likely be a gem for marketers looking to appeal to this unique demographic. OTC Beauty Magazine chatted with Vierhile to discuss this elusive generation and the upcoming in-cosmetics North America event.

OTC: When it comes to Millennials, it’s said that they are constantly looking to express their unique “self” what is meant by this?

Vierhile: Millennials are much more likely to say they prefer to be unique and stand out than earlier generations. Social media provides this generation with unique opportunities to accomplish this, so there is something of a positive feedback loop which may make Millennials more oriented to “express their unique self” than earlier generations. The numbers on this are interesting. US Millennials are more than twice as likely to say they prefer to be unique and stand out from the crowd than the oldest age group we survey, consumers aged 65+. This explains the explosion in things like tattoos where younger generations are literally expressing themselves through customized body art. Temporary hair coloring products have become another popular way for millennial-age consumers to express themselves.

This generation is more individualistic than older generations, but it is also more educated and engaged. Regarding engagement, Millennials may have more of an expectation that they want to play a part in creating products than earlier generations. According to GlobalData’s Q3 2016 survey, 77% of US Millennials say they find the concept of products they helped create to be appealing. This is a much higher percentage than for older generations.

OTC: How are Millennials different from the generation before them in their behaviors and buying habits?

Vierhile: One important way that Millennials are different is that they are much more appearance-oriented, and as a result are beginning to use anti-aging products (just one example) much earlier than older generations. According to GlobalData’s Q4 2014 consumer survey, 12% of 25 to 34-year-olds globally began using anti-aging products between the ages of 18-24, but only 2% of 45-54 year old consumers said they began using anti-aging products at that age.

The numbers are only slightly different for American consumers. 14% of 25 to 34-year-olds in the survey said they began using anti-aging products between the ages of 18-24, compared with just 3% of 45-54 year old consumers that said they began using these products at the same time.

Cultural pressures are driving younger consumers to take steps to improve or maintain their appearance much earlier than with older generations. “Selfie culture” is something that did not exist before the smartphone; older consumers did not even have access to this technology when they were younger while younger generations have never lived through a time when this technology did not exist.

Millennials seem to be more inclined to distrust “bigness” than older generations. As a generation, Millennials are somewhat more likely to trust smaller brands and companies. This has certainly helped pave the way for innovation in “craft” products like food, the spirit of which has spilled over into personal care.

Millennials are also much more likely than older generations to say they want to buy products that are reflective of their personal attitudes and opinions. This may be why companies are beginning to take a stand on more controversial social issues, something that companies would have tried to avoid in the past for fear of alienating consumers.

One last area worth mentioning is the potential of the male beauty sector. Millennial men are much more self-conscious about their appearance than earlier generations and while the US market may be well behind trend-setting markets like South Korea in this regard, the future looks bright for the sector.

OTC: How can those in the beauty industry market to Millennials and cater to their love for technology?

Vierhile: Millennials are more comfortable with technology than older generations and may also be more intimidated by face-to-face interactions than the latter. Beauty industry participants can capitalize on these tendencies by making it easier for younger consumers to sample, try, and buy their products via technology. One relatively new development that could really make waves here is something called augmented reality. This technology allows consumers to take a selfie of themselves and then virtually “try on” different cosmetic products including lipstick and more. Since this is done on a smartphone, there is no sense of embarrassment in trying something radically new or different. Newer applications of this technology close the loop by allowing consumers to purchase beauty care products after virtually trying them on. This type of technology has the potential to have a major impact on the beauty industry.

Millennials are comfortable with technology and are more open to technology being brought to bear on daily grooming rituals. This is a generation that lives on their smartphones and as a result, smartphone-connected electronic tools and devices are likely to resonate with Millennials more so than older consumers.

OTC: What are some of the dominant buying behaviors that you’ve noticed with this demographic?

Vierhile: Millennials are much more likely to trust their peers than they are to trust advertising that comes from a brand or retailer, so we’re seeing the growing influence of bloggers as well as user reviews in influencing consumer choice. Older generations are generally not as familiar with video blogs that demonstrate new products, but younger generations have helped turn beauty bloggers into celebrities and this influence is changing the market.

Another area that is important to Millennials is health and the impact of healthier lifestyles. Millennials do not tend to see health as something that is separate from beauty; the generation sees them as linked much more closely than older generations do. As a consequence, Millennials are more interested in beauty products that complement their active lifestyles, from cosmetics that can survive a workout to beauty care products that are formulated to reflect health concerns, like avoiding animal-products, a trend that is helping spur innovation in so-called vegan beauty.

The Millennial view on beauty is also somewhat different from that of older generations. Millennials are not as sold on using cosmetics to mask flaws; they tend to be more interested in using products that can accentuate natural beauty. Companies should innovate accordingly.

OTC: What is one of the challenges beauty businesses face when marketing to Millennials?

Vierhile: One challenge is clearly the growing influence of the online channel – not just as a distribution channel, but as a trendsetter and influencer of Millennials. Over two-thirds of US Millennials say they are more likely to trust blogger or user reviews than brand claims, according to GlobalData’s Q4 2016 consumer survey. And just over half of US Millennials say they are already buying beauty or grooming products that follow trends shown on social media. This tendency of social media to influence product trends is likely to continue to grow, and because this innovation model is much more fragmented than other sources of beauty innovation, it is going to be more challenging than ever for beauty businesses to keep on top of what Millennials really want.

OTC: Are there any tips you can offer beauty supply stores or beauty businesses to help attract and retain this audience?

Vierhile: I think it is going to be more crucial for beauty supply stores and businesses to keep on top of market developments than ever before. Change is happening much faster today than in the past, and companies that are not constantly paying attention to new developments or having an open mind towards change are not going to make it in the long run.

OTC: What can attendees expect to gain from attending your presentation?

Vierhile: Our goal at GlobalData is to help attendees better understand the millennial consumer, the market opportunity, and innovation opportunities going forward. The presentation will focus on four key innovation opportunities that companies can use to target millennial consumers and will feature some excellent new product examples as well as marketing approaches that resonate with Millennials. Over the course of the presentation, attendees will have a better idea of what appeals to millennial-age consumers and how they might be able to capitalize on these opportunities.


OTC Beauty Magazine offers useful business tips and effective selling tools to boost revenue and customer traffic for OTC retailers. The magazine also provides invaluable product knowledge, industry news and insights for retail store owners, manufacturers, distributors and professionals in the barber and beauty supply industry. Contact us: editor@otcbeautymagazine.com

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