At Cosmoprof, Gen Z are the answer to sustainable beauty

How are the next generation of consumers, Generation Z, going to change the way in which we consume beauty? Last week at Cosmoprof Worldwide Bologna, our Global Beauty Director, Jenni Middleton brought together some of the world’s pioneering beauty brands to discuss the unique challenges Gen Z brings to brands. More woke than any generation prior to them, they are a unique cohort, set to have a profound impact on the Beauty business.

Born between the mid 90s and the mid 00s, Gen Z is expected to make up 40% of consumers by 2020. Sustainability is one of the key priorities for this cohort – they’re pushing boundaries with big implications for product and service development. So how are brands adapting to become more sustainable?

For Annie Jackson, Co-Founder and COO of Credo Beauty with more than 20 years experience in cosmetics, sustainability is a key pillar for her brand. “We have a clean beauty standard for Credo with a clear sustainability focus, contemplating the full product life cycle”. Jackson went on to explain that “clean beauty is not a synonym for natural beauty. We need to think about our products from end to end, from ingredients to packaging”.

Dagmar Chlosta, CMO at Schwan-Stabilo has big sustainability ambitions to make a real change. “At Schwan-Stabilo, we are determined to become the most sustainable innovator in colour cosmetics, going beyond a trend to a brand way of life. For Gen Z, this is a matter a survival and the older generations owe it to them. We can’t just talk about it, we have to act on it”.

According to Elena Barbuzzi, Head of R&D and Innovation at AGF88 Holding and directly responsible of product development and Innovation, “Gen Z doesn’t see nationalities or country borders, they just see the power of being. The world is smaller than ever, we need to be kind to our planet. Our environment is not a problem specific to countries, it’s global”.

For Barbuzzi, there doesn’t have to be a trade-off in terms of sustainability and a product working well for consumers. “I don’t see why a good product cannot also be sustainable. From formulation to packaging we need it start from the beginning to make the whole journey sustainable”.

Sustainability sounds like a no-brainer – so what are the challenges keeping brands from making change?

Annie Jackson delved into the obstacles faced by beauty brands. “Clean beauty is wonderful, but expensive. That’s because we’re sourcing high quality, high cost ingredients. Packaging that is easily recycled, for example, is quite expensive, therefore, you have to consider the economy of scale.”

Change seems to be imperative – and on the horizon – for the Beauty market. “The industry is finally listening and making a change – this is why clean beauty is exploding now. Brands need to walk the walk”, says Annie Jackson.

The panel was unanimous in seeing Gen Z as a group that will make a positive impact on the world. In Dagmar Chlosta’s view, “Gen Z are the answer for sustainability, we need to make sustainability the new bragging rights. This generation want Instagramability with products that carry a good conscience, there is a big change happening and the industry needs to meet these demands”.

So what were are key takeaways? Here’s 4 key actions for 2019 and beyond:

– Think how your product can leave a positive legacy. For example, as well as employing software to ensure it’s supply chain is ethical, LOLI Beauty’s zero-waste, waterless and food-grade products come in reusable jars.

– Clearly illustrate how your consumers’ actions can make a difference: 36% of Gen Z say that this type of content is more likely to grab their attention.

– Join the packaging-free movement with unwrapped goods, or offer alternatives to plastic. Create discount and loyalty incentives around recycling and refillable schemes.

There’s no denying it, turbulent and multidimensional lifestyles of Gen Z will define beauty for the next decade. Is your business ready? Check out our latest white paper Gen Z: Building New Beauty.

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