Clean/Green Skincare Consumers

According to market research, the majority of clean beauty/skincare consumers belong to the millennial and Gen Z demographics, as older consumers have different priorities when considering and comparing beauty and personal care products. Overall, the generational divides in clean beauty/skincare consumption are the most divisive, with widespread interest in these products across genders, income levels, ethnic groups, and geographic locations. Additionally, insights into clean beauty/skincare consumers’ social media engagement with beauty brands, health and environmental concerns, motivations for purchase, and healthy hobbies are all detailed below.

Demographic Profile of Natural Beauty/Skincare Consumers

  • According to Consultancy UK, 70% of millennials and 54% of Generation X consumers express concern about where ingredients in their personal care and beauty products come from, which is driving growth in the organic beauty and skincare market.
  • In comparison, Baby Boomers have expressed the least concern about the manufacturing and logistics of beauty products, among other stages in the supply chain, as depicted in the below chart.
  • Additionally, millennial consumers are also the most likely to stress the importance of “all-natural or ‘pronounceable’ ingredients.”
  • According to a 2018 report from the Benchmarking Company, “Gen Z and millennials buy natural and organic beauty and personal care the most, with 78% saying they do so some of the time, compared to 76% of Generation X and 69% of baby boomers.”
  • When comparing specific beauty products, consumers in different generations have varied priorities, with millennials caring most about reviews, Generation X consumers prioritizing quality, and Baby Boomers focusing most on brand names, as shown in the chart below.
  • Among women, 49% of respondents surveyed by the Benchmarking Company “said they purchase natural or organic beauty products, representing an increase in natural/​organic beauty buying of 27%.”
  • According to Statista, existing male and female beauty consumers are similarly interested in “natural or organic” skincare products, with over 50% of both gender groups expressing a preference for such products.
  • In the US, Coresight Research reports that while female beauty and personal care shoppers are more likely to buy these products at Target, male consumers are slightly more likely to shop for them at Amazon.
  • According to market research from 2018, consumers indicate the expense of “natural or organic beauty of personal care products” is the number one barrier, as “61% of non-buyers find them too expensive (compared to 45% who felt this way in 2008).”
  • Across all ages and income levels, major drugstores, Walmart, and Amazon consistently draw beauty and personal care consumers according to market research motivation for purchase, and
  • Among US consumers, female beauty consumers with incomes between $50,000 and $75,000 make up the highest portion of beauty consumers and primarily prioritize quality (including descriptions like “all-natural,” “hypoallergenic,” and “length of ingredient list”), reviews, and brand names when considering a product.
  • Within the skincare industry, strong growth among natural brands has been driving growth in the overall industry, and Asian-Americans are leading the trend in the United States, according to NBC News.
  • However, due to inclusivity trends in beauty and skincare advertising, “embracing the beauty in all body sizes (49%), facial features (47%), race/ethnicity (42%), skin color (40%) and genders (40%) [has] also [become] important.”
  • Increasing diversity among younger generations is driving demand for inclusivity, and Google market research reveals that “48% of Gen Z consumers are from diverse backgrounds and want their friends to be engaged in things they care about; 79% are saying that brands must actively demonstrate their understanding and share consumer concerns.”
  • Research firm AlixPartners has released survey results “of 4,500 individuals in China, France, Germany, the UK, and the US [showing] that increased awareness among consumers about the potential impact of products on their health has driven revenue growth for natural, ethically and sustainably sourced products in the beauty and personal care sector.”
  • According to the AlixPartners report, the countries where consumers were the most interested in “healthy or clean” beauty and personal care products include France and China, as shown in the chart below.

Healthy/Clean Beauty and Personal Care Product Importance

Psychographic Profile of Natural Beauty/Skincare Consumers

  • According to research from Stella Rising, clean beauty consumers discuss these products using hashtags like #GreenBeauty, #VeganBeauty, #Natural, and #Nontoxic.
  • Overall, the beauty industry has increasingly reached new consumers through online and social media advertising.
  • In 2019, consumers reporting finding new brands through social media ads (37%), comments/recommendations on social media posts (33%), experts’ blog posts (22%), and official brand social media accounts (22%), as well as celebrity endorsements (22%).
  • According to We Are Social, beauty consumers interact with beauty brands on social media in several ways, including liking/following (33%) and visiting (31%) official brand accounts and interacting with sponsored and promoted posts (23%).
  • Among beauty buyers, “around 1 in 5 asked questions to brands on social media [in June 2019] and a similar number shared a brand’s post.”
  • Research from Mintel has revealed that “between 2016 and 2019, social media mentions of #cleanbeauty grew 623% in the U.S. and over 40% of millennials said they would deepen or begin relationships with businesses that had a positive social or environmental impact.”
  • However, according to Forbes, “the people closest to the consumer have the most profound influence in an individuals’ beauty routine, especially friends (50%), mothers (49%) and sisters or other family members (41%). These close personal contacts are way out in front of magazines (27%), online videos (27%), and Instagram and other social media (25%) as influencers.”
  • Because beauty consumers often turn to their peers and family for beauty recommendations, relatable and inclusive beauty advertising is important to them.
  • Among beauty consumers’ advertising priorities, “accurately and positively reflecting age is top on their list (54%), followed by images that show reality (i.e. cellulite, tooth gaps, scars, gray hair, wrinkles), not photo-shopped perfection (51%).”
  • As described by body diversity advocate Anatasia Garcia, In contrast to previous “aspirational messaging” that was popular and effective in the beauty industry, today’s consumer “is changing in how they define beauty and demanding an inclusive and authentic image.”
  • In addition to heightened interest in natural, recognizable ingredients in beauty and personal care products, millennials also express interest in sustainable product ingredients as well as “detailed and transparent labeling.”
  • Clean beauty consumers also care about animal welfare, with 73% considering the importance of cruelty-free labeling on products when shopping.
  • According to the Benchmarking Company, “Ingredient transparency is of paramount importance to these consumers, with 91% of buyers saying ‘lists all ingredients clearly on packaging/​website’ was somewhat to very important (ranked 4-5) when considering the purchase of a natural or organic brand. Other factors that were somewhat to very important include ‘does not test on animals’ at 82%, ‘is eco-friendly (does not pollute; has recyclable packaging)’ at 76%, ‘pays a fair wage to all employees’ at 72%, and ‘is socially and environm­entally responsible’ at 71%.”
  • Based on research from Ipsos, “among American respondents, 66% would try new products from other brands if they were natural. Among Canadians, 57% of respondents said this.”
  • Additionally, 59% say they would try unfamiliar brands’ products labeled “clean.” Further, 55% of beauty consumers would be interested in new products from sustainable brands.
  • According to research on digital e-commerce among beauty brands, 41% of beauty consumers said they would not purchase a product after only using virtual try-on technology.
  • However, 36% would be more interested in beauty products were offered in free samples, and 20% would have increased interest due to “an easy return policy.”
  • The organic and clean beauty and personal care product market has been predicted to grow from $500 billion to $800 between 2019 and 2023, and this growth has been attributed to a “shift in demand to more natural and ethically derived products [due to] the growing concern that some ingredients used in such product have undisclosed/unknown harms.”
  • Clean beauty consumers tend to prefer products with “natural ingredients” like aloe vera, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, and Argan oil while avoiding products with preservatives, fragrance, and dyes.
  • Between Gen Z, millennial, and Gen X beauty consumers, each group adhere to different priorities when selecting clean beauty products, and according to Mintel, “64% of Gen Z and 65% of Millennial women noted that the “natural look” was most important to them when selecting makeup. Gen X and older offered a dissimilar response, with 70% responding that color was their top priority.”
  • Among general beauty consumers, research from Cosmetic Executive Women (CEW) reveals that they have multiple interests and hobbies that are driving the current growth of clean beauty within the global market.
  • In particular, increasing interest in “health and wellness, including nutrition, wellness, and beauty” is driving consumers’ demand for clean beauty products that support their health-related goals.
  • Beauty consumers want products that align with their healthy hobbies, which often include “fitness, nutrition, and yoga.”
  • Additionally, Pierre Dupreelle, Managing Director at Boston Consulting, notes that “all age groups, replenishment and a treat for oneself are the top shopping triggers. He observed that 40% of consumers today plan to spend more on beauty products and adjacencies, and luxury has momentum across categories.”
  • To support their habits of using shopping as entertainment and/or self-care, these consumers often demand free same-day shipping, customizable products, and real-time customer support and troubleshooting.

Research Strategy

When researching the demographic and psychographic profile of clean beauty consumers, information including concrete statistics (such as percentage breakdowns) and specifically referencing only clean beauty consumption could not be found via publicly available reports, particularly for consumer demographics regarding ethnic groups and income levels. Many of the market reports and articles we found focused on the growth of clean beauty/skincare as a segment of the overall market, rather than as a distinct category/industry. As a result, the research and surveys that backed these reports often included non-purchasers of clean beauty/skincare products in their results, which made it difficult to find hard statistics for aspects of the demographic and psychographic profile. However, insights into overall beauty/skincare consumer habits were identified in market reports, and these insights included information relevant to the growing demand for clean beauty and personal care products globally. To supplement the findings we found that specifically related to clean beauty consumers only, we included general beauty & personal care industry/consumer insights, as well as other relevant data points about trends in beauty/skincare, in order to provide robust demographic and psychographic profiles using the information available publicly.

Glenn is the Lead Operations Research Analyst at The Digital Momentum with experience in research, statistical data analysis and interview techniques. A holder of degree in Economics. A true specialist in quantitative and qualitative research.

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