What make-up means to Gen Z: 3 key insights – part 3


Frankie Swaine

Associate Director, New York

Categories Blog

The third and final entry in our series on insights into Gen Z’s relationship with make-up, cosmetics, and beauty: An inviting, accessible retail experience is an integral part of the make-up journey.

Continuing our series on insights into Gen Z’s relationship with make-up, cosmetics, and beauty, we’ll take a look at another insight that can help brands connect with consumers more deeply, empower them, and give them confidence and inspiration to broaden their beauty repertoire.

Insight 3: An inviting, accessible retail experience is an integral part of the make-up journey

There are few products that consumers interact with as intimately as cosmetics. However, in addition to offering tangible products, the cosmetics category encompasses a wealth of experiences and brand interaction.

From shopping for products and seeking out consumer reviews to watching tutorial & unboxing videos and using cosmetics to create your own look, the beauty category is full of rich experiences that allow consumers to create their own stories and celebrate self-expression.


Like Millennials, Gen Z-ers value experiences just as much as – or even more than – they value tangible possessions. It’s all about creating a sense of connection in a world where things of value are increasingly intangible, and where capturing an experience on Instagram or Snapchat is more meaningful that holding an object in your hand.

The Gen Z-ers we spoke to buy cosmetics both in-store and online, but none of them solely use the online channel. Indeed, they highly value the product interaction allowed by stores like Sephora and MAC. One consumer even told us that she makes a point of going to Sephora every month just to see what’s new and keep up with the latest trends, regardless of whether she needs to buy anything or not!

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While drugstore beauty departments are beginning to move away from their sterile, look-but-don’t-touch aesthetic, most of the beauty products remain tightly sealed up – and even transparent packaging is no substitute for being able to swatch a product on your own skin.

Shopping at an NYC Walgreens with one of our Gen Z consumers

In contrast, Sephora’s inviting set-up offers the opportunity to play, experiment, and explore. Consumers can interact directly with every product to find that perfect foundation match or just the right shade of teal eyeliner.

Shopping at NYC Sephora locations with some of our Gen Z consumers

The invitation to explore is enhanced by the wide variety of brands on offer, knowledgeable staff, and free tutorials – as well as by free samples offered with purchase and as bonus gifts. Consumers delight in being able to discover products that feel just right for them – as well as share their journey of discovery with their friends via texts or social media.

Tutorials at an NYC Sephora are guided & sharable

Whether trying to reach new consumers or introduce different products to existing customers, brands should consider how to make themselves as open and accessible as possible. Consider what meaningful experiences your brand can offer consumers and how to create sharable moments of surprise and delight within their discovery journeys.

If you’d like to learn more about any of these insightsget in touch with our New York office.