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The Irresistible ‘Clean’ Appeal: Unveiling the sustainable secrets making beauty customers say ‘Yes!

Sadia Corey VP, Client Development 27/06/2023

Sustainable beauty products have become a significant trend in the beauty industry. Consumers, especially those from younger generations, are increasingly prioritizing eco-friendly options in their personal care routines. However, navigating the complexity of choosing sustainable beauty products can be challenging for both consumers and brands. With brands reinventing beauty standards and exploring how to promote this farm-to-bottle framing, the market has followed suit, mirroring movements in food and fashion by encouraging transparency in its packaging and campaigns.

36% of Gen Z respondents consider peer recommendations as their biggest influence for making purchasing decisions when it comes to sustainable and clean products.

With Sephora’s selection of over 40 brands dedicated to clean ingredients, climate commitments, sustainable sourcing, responsible packaging, and environmental giving, and other beauty companies dedicated to one or all of the same, consumers’ go-to has become ‘sustainable.’

The division comes when we dive into consumer behavior across generations. Gen Z respondents overwhelmingly embrace sustainable beauty products, with 92% considering themselves consumers. In contrast, only 57% of older generations (Boomer II+ respondents) prioritize sustainability in their beauty routines. Interestingly, male respondents show a strong focus on purchasing from sustainable and cruelty-free brands, with 94% prioritizing these options. Among female respondents, 67% share the same perspective.

Millennial respondents are significantly influenced by the sustainability and cruelty-free aspect of products, with a third (33%) stating that it dramatically impacts their purchase decisions. Cruelty-free options had been the starting point of this ‘clean’ shift in the beauty industry, with transparency on product testing and development being front of mind for many consumers and up-and-coming brands.

Both Millennials and Gen X respondents favor clean beauty products, which prioritize natural and non-toxic ingredients. A substantial 43% of Millennials and 39% of Gen X individuals consistently choose clean beauty options over other generations. This growing demand for clean beauty reflects a preference for safer and more sustainable alternatives as we discover how ingredients can impact the body. However, when a clean beauty product is offered at a higher price, Gen Z is not willing to make the same commitment to sustainability as Millennials (26%) and Gen X respondents (24%), who are highly likely to choose it over other beauty products compared to different generations.

Despite all the targeted campaigns and beauty PR that brands undergo, the most important thing for customers looking to purchase their product is knowing it works from trusted sources. Peer recommendations hold significant sway among Gen Z respondents, with 36% considering it the biggest influencing factor in their purchase decisions. Additionally, both Gen Z (28%) and Millennials (36%) attribute the highest impact to social media influencers. Millennials also value advertisements (31%) and celebrity endorsements (17%) when purchasing. Brands can leverage these factors by collaborating with trusted influencers, implementing targeted advertising campaigns, and securing celebrity endorsements.

Despite an abundance of sustainable beauty products online and in-store, perceptions regarding the difficulty of finding quality sustainable beauty brands are not completely dissolved. While 28% of Gen X respondents find it not at all difficult, 42% of Gen Z respondents perceive it as fairly difficult. Millennials (14%) consider it very difficult.

Emphasizing sustainability, collaborating with influencers, implementing targeted advertising, and addressing accessibility concerns are crucial in convincing consumers to choose eco-friendly options. By navigating the complexity of the sustainable beauty market, brands can tap into the growing demand and contribute to a more sustainable future.

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