NEW GEN Z 101: Unlock & Outlast Microtrends
Mar 03 2022
Beauty is booming. YPulse’s youth brand tracker data shows what beauty brands young European females say are the hottest right now…
Though quarantines hit beauty brands early in the pandemic when the need for makeup all but disappeared, beauty has bounced back in a big way among young females in Western Europe. Over the course of the pandemic, keeping up personal appearances turned into something bigger than just looking good. It became a lifeline—and especially for young females. YPulse’s WE personal care and beauty shopping survey found that nearly three-quarters of young European females say the way they feel about their personal appearance affects their mental health, making grooming a key way Gen Z and Millennial women in Western Europe maintain their state of mind, which grew understandably precarious during the long months of isolation and uncertainty.
Accordingly, personal care practices (and products) that promote self-care have been trending up, including an even bigger skincare boom. In fact, 50% of European females, and the vast majority say that routine grew more elaborate over the pandemic. Makeup brands have quickly adapted and pivoted their products to focus on the “skin-care benefits” during the “mask-wearing era” to tout products like “no pigment virtual foundation.” But makeup, too, has become about mental health, with more than four in five young females who wear makeup saying that doing so is a form of self-care. What’s more, makeup has also become a way for young European females to counter the downer of the pandemic. Our WE The In-Between trend research, which explores Gen Z and Millennials’ current mindsets about the pandemic, found that 35% of young European females say they’re committed to or going to try to wear brighter makeup in 2022, a trend we’re already seeing out in the real world with dopamine dressing and maximalism.
So whether they’re looking to use beauty products as a way to maintain their mental state or to live life to the fullest after two years of lockdowns, what brands are young European females turning to? YPulse’s brand data tracker–which is available to Pro subscribers–measures 13-39-year-olds’ affinity for over 800 brands in Western Europe (and 400 in North America) across 20 distinct diagnostics, including which brands they think are the hottest. Today, we dug into the data to determine which beauty brands have the highest “hot” ratings among young European females right now. Here are their top 17:
The 17 Hottest Beauty Brands
Among 13-39-year-old females
Let’s start with the overview: While our brand tracker data and behavioral surveys have largely found that young Europeans’ brand preferences are heavily dominated by American brands (even when it comes to fashion), this list is a different story. Just five of the top 17 beauty brands young European females say are the hottest are American, and the rest are from across Western Europe.
What’s more, nearly half are luxury brands, including the number-one hottest brand, Dior, highlighting young consumers’ ongoing interest in high-end items. Yes, young consumers’ attitudes and behaviors toward high-end goods have led to a redefinition of luxury, but YPulse’s recent WE luxury report found that the majority of 13-39-year-olds in Western Europe have already purchased a luxury item, and nearly a third say they’ll likely care more about owning high-quality, expensive products in the future. We’ve already started seeing this in action, too. Though global luxury sales dropped 23% in 2020 for a loss of €64 billion ($79 billion)—the market’s largest-ever fall and the first decline since 2009—2021 saw a rebound with global sales 4% higher than in 2019, pre-pandemic. But all that said, these young gens are still changing what luxury means, and how accessible it is—and makeup is a more accessible access point to a luxury brand. Our data shows that the majority of young Europeans want luxury brands to make some affordable items so more people can own them (which has spawned the viral trend of young people buying a luxury brand’s #cheapestthing, which often includes makeup), and they expect luxury brands to be more relatable. This has led luxury brands to try everything from buy now, pay later offerings to sustainability efforts to virtual fits for their metaverse avatars to dupes to teaming up with hip hop stars—all of which we’ve seen some of the hottest beauty brands on this list do.
Young European females’ top beauty brand, Dior, for instance, is one of the many luxury brands to infiltrate the metaverse. On top of that, Dior is one of a handful of luxury brands (including Givenchy, number 17 on their list) to ban size zero models in an effort to promote healthier beauty standards, and to make a commitment to sustainability—all of which could contribute to the brand’s top placement on the list.
Classic luxury brand Chanel No. 5 also ranks high on the list, though it’s had some setbacks with young consumers in recent months, underscoring some of the problems luxury brands face. This could help explain why second and fourth on the list are Fenty Beauty and KIKO Milano, both of which taute high-quality products at more affordable prices. In fact, Italian beauty brand KIKO Milano is billed as an accessible luxury brand that “revolutionized the rules of cosmetics.” Fenty, meanwhile, is the Rihanna-created brand that needs no introduction. Since its inception, the brand has been wildly popular with young consumers, and not just because of the star power of its creator. In fact, most of Fenty Beauty’s success is attributed to its perfectly timed focus on blowing up outdated industry standards—the brand prides itself on its inclusive line of shades, which has since become a major trend in the beauty industry, especially among Gen Z. In fact, Fenty ranks higher with the younger gen than Millennials:
Kylie Cosmetics—another beauty brand driven by star power—also ranks higher among Europe’s Gen Z females. While the online-only brand was an instant sensation among young beauty fans, Kylie Cosmetics has remained one of the hottest brands in part by continually meeting young consumers where they are—TikTok. With 2.8M followers on the Gen Z-favorite video-sharing app, the brand taps influencers and viral trends to keep up with the younger generation. But the brand is also jumping into social commerce: TikTok recently teamed up with Shopify to officially allow in-app shopping, and Kylie is one of the first brands to debut on the pilot program. According to founder Kylie Jenner, “the ability to shop my products directly on these platforms is so important because that’s where our audience is going first.” Indeed, YPulse’s WE shopping and retail research found that nearly half of young Europeans want to shop via social media, and an Accenture study predicts that the global social commerce industry will grow three times as fast as traditional ecommerce to become worth $1.2 trillion by 2025.
MAC and L’Oreal—numbers eight and 12 on the list—are also dabbling in social media-fueled marketing with Snapchat’s new catalog-powered AR Shopping Lenses. Combining augmented reality (AR) and social commerce, the feature allows Snapchatters to swipe through virtual makeup looks from various brands, which they can buy directly through the lens. Young Europeans have told YPulse they’re interested in AR shopping experiences, and launching activations inside Snapchat is one way to reach them—and to stay hot.
YPulse Western Europe Business users can access the full Brand Data Dashboard, and diagnostics on over 800 brands in Western Europe here.
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