Reaching the recessionals: beauty on a budget

Reaching the recessionals: beauty on a budget

Millennials, they’re all out eating avocado toast, right? Well, Gurner’s throwaway comment was wrong at the time and it’s even less relevant to this financially disadvantaged generation now. As a recent report in the Financial Times reveals, millennials own just 3 percent of all household wealth in 2020, their net worth has seen only negligible growth over the last couple of decades and they, along with the Gen Z cohort coming up behind them, are the most likely to have lost their job since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

That all adds up to an urgent rebrand – as the Financial Times dubs it, the recessionals would be a more apt label. However, despite their significantly reduced household budgets, there’s no getting away from the fact that Gen Y makes up 25 percent of the population. Even with reduced means, ignore them at your peril. And for that reason, beauty will have to adapt to a target market that is struggling, less optimistic and worried about their future and that of their children.

Among all the doom and gloom, however, there is opportunity. The recent rise of DIY beauty, for example, may well have originated from salon closures and concerns over close contact, but could persist as a trend with many no longer afford treatments out-of-home. Obviously, that sucks for salons, but will benefit manufacturers who count at-home hair color, nail care and self care rituals among their portfolios. Sales of at-home spa tools and serums are booming too, says Vogue Business quoting research conducted by Spate.  

Meanwhile, those still in work are spending more time on their screens than ever with both meetings and social events now conducted via Zoom (other video conferencing apps are available). That has led to a boom for skin care products that claim to shield against blue light. Like sunblock, this clever positioning takes skin care out of the realms of ‘nice to have’ and into the daily essential category. After all, it’s not as if any of us can forget about the state of our skin while we’re staring at our faces all day, every day.

And in true avocado toast style, millennials’ have long prioritised their health (there’s a reason that a green, vegan superfood is emblematic of this generation, and not, say, bacon) and beauty, already nudging into the wellness sphere pre-pandemic, is very firmly aligning with all things well-being in readiness for this next big shift.

What’s more, while there may be no spare cash for fripperies, millennials are more socialist in stance than their parents and known to put their money where their mouth is. They are also less brand loyal so brands with a strong purpose could well turn heads (and wallets) in their direction. Be it sustainable and eco-friendly, black-owned, or for a cause (women’s education for example), this generation is game for a good cause as long as it’s authentic, not tokenistic.

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