Gen Z & Millennial Females’ 10 Favorite Beauty Brands

Jul 03 2018

Who’s the fairest of them all? YPulse’s youth brand tracker results reveal the favorite beauty brands of Gen Z and Millennial females…

To be at the top of the beauty market, capturing young consumers is essential—because Millennials and Gen Z consumers are actually buying makeup more than Boomers. The makeup industry has seen a surge in recent years as chasing the latest makeup trends and shopping for products supported by fan-favorite influencers have gained traction with young consumers. The Financial Post reports that Ulta Beauty has seen sales surge from $3.9 billion two years ago to $5.9 billion in 2017, while Sephora revenues “have doubled since 2011.” Not to mention upstarts like Kylie Cosmetics, which raked in $420 million in 18 months, mostly via organic marketing courtesy of founder Kylie Jenner and her 99 million followers. Social media has leveled the playing field between indie upstarts and major brands, and these days one appealing product can kickstart a fledgling retailer and attract major retailers like Sephora to partner up for a product launch.

In the face of heightened competition from indies, big beauty brands are doing everything they can to attract young consumers, from incorporating GIFs and Instagram Stories into online marketing to featuring all natural products. Drugstore beauty wants to dethrone the cult brands, and according to Fashionista, from CoverGirl to St. Ives, drugstore staples have taken a new tack to reach young shoppers by switching up slogans, introducing “[M]illennial-friendly packaging,” and hosting experiential pop-ups. After Fenty Beauty’s groundbreaking inclusive line launch, CoverGirl introduced foundation in 40 shades. This year, after augmented reality became a major trend in beauty marketing, L’Oréal bought Modiface, an augmented reality app for trying on makeup. In other words, it’s game on in the race for Millennials’ and Gen Z’s makeup money. So who’s currently reigning as their favorite beauty brands?

In YPulse’s new youth brand tracker survey  we’ve asked more than 27,000 13-36-year-old consumers about their relationships with, and perceptions of, over 200 brands so far this year—including what brands are their favorites.* We dug into the data to find Gen Z and Millennial females’ favorite beauty brands right now:

*YPulse’s youth brand tracker measures young consumers’ relationship with a brand based on a weighted 6-point scale, ranging from “Never heard of this brand” to “This brand is one of my favorites.” These are the top beauty brands that received the response, “This brand is one of my favorites,” among those who are aware of the brand.

Among over 40 tracked health and beauty brands, including a mix of smaller players like Anastasia Beauty Bar and the biggest names in the industry, these are the brands with the highest share of fanatics among those aware—and Bath & Body Works came in at the top of the list for both Millennials and Gen Z. The mall mainstay’s high ranking may surprise some, but they’ve been staying on top of young consumers’ favorite trends, from sheet masks to mermaid beauty, while still offering now-classic favorites. Just this January, Bustle wrote about some of the young “Extreme Bath & Body Works Fans” who stockpile their products, saying of the brand, “Bath & Body Works still somehow manages to consistently transcend what’s trending in beauty and remain a nostalgic favorite, a hometown go-to, a trusted and welcoming storefront. Since 1990, Bath & Body Works has been doing roughly the same thing through tens of thousands of different scents, resulting in a type of nostalgic familiarity that seems to resonate with everyone — whether they want to admit it or not.”

While Dove came in second on Millennial females’ favorite beauty brand list, it didn’t make the top 10 among Gen Z, and that wasn’t the only difference between the two groups. NYX, L’Oreal, eos, Lush, Neutrogena, and Covergirl were all top favorites among 13-18-year-old females and not 18-36-year-old females, while Clinique, Sephora, Ulta, OPI, and Mac were favorites of the older group and not the younger.

To download the PDF version of this insight article, click here.