The beauty industry has transformed in recent years driven by consumer demands for products that align with their cultural values and personal beliefs. While the top cosmetic brands continue to be L’Oreal and Estee Lauder, they are being challenged by younger, edgier brands like Selena Gomez’s Rare Beauty, Rihanna’s Fenty and e.l.f. Cosmetics. Consumer opinion, however, is not homogeneous. There are significant differences in preferences based on ethnicity, age, income and gender. ThinkNow uncovered some of those differences in our recent Inclusive Beauty Report based on a nationally representative online survey of 2,800 respondents.
Download the full results of the survey here.
The era of conscious consumerism has brought about a major shift in the beauty industry. Increasingly, consumers seek products that align with their values, whether minimizing harm to animals, supporting sustainable practices, or promoting inclusivity. This has led to a growing demand for cosmetics and beauty products that are cruelty-free, meaning they are not tested on animals and that are considered inclusive.
Interestingly, while nearly half of cosmetic consumers want cruelty-free brands, 88% of them are still not cruelty-free. However, the fastest growing brands like e.l.f. and Rare Beauty are both cruelty-free and vegan. Legacy companies that want to compete in today’s market are being pushed to adopt these practices in their formulations and testing processes.
While the market as-a-whole is trending towards conscious consumerism, there are significant multicultural differences. For example, the demand for all-vegan cosmetics appears to be driven by non-Hispanic White consumers.
Additionally, since non-Hispanic Whites are, on average, ten years older than multicultural Americans, 42% of them choose brands based on how they address age-related needs vs. 30% of Hispanics who value age-related needs. Asians value products that offer solutions for different skin tones (37%) vs products that are endorsed by celebrities (15%) while Black and non-Hispanic White consumers are more likely to value brands that have a variety of price points. Understanding and addressing these specific preferences, as supported by cultural consumer insights, is crucial for building a loyal customer base.
One might assume that younger consumers would be most interested in conscious consumerism. Gen Z however, is much less likely to seek out vegan cosmetic brands (19%) than Millennials (33%) or Gen X (31%). Gen X is more likely to seek out organic/natural ingredients (41%) than the 36% average for other age groups.
Income, however, is one of the factors that most affect cosmetic product preferences. For example, those earning more than $80K a year are significantly more likely to choose brands that are cruelty-free (53%) and vegan (42%) than those earning less than $40K annually (39%) and 21%), respectively. This insight-driven approach doesn't just enhance product offerings; it also builds trust and loyalty among diverse consumer groups.
The beauty industry's shift towards cruelty-free, vegan, and inclusive beauty products aligns with trends observed in multicultural consumer insights. Younger generations are the most statistically diverse in history and wield the power to affect change. They are communicating their expectations to brands or starting their own and challenging heteronormative stereotypes of “beauty.” Companies willing to adapt to these culture shifts will stay relevant as consumer tastes change and contribute to a more compassionate and diverse world.