Like every generation before it, Gen Z is making their mark on the world of beauty. Comprising 2.56 billion people, they are undoubtedly making their mark on the world, too. Gen Z makes up almost a third of the world’s population, and in the MENA region, they account for 16% of the overall population. It’s no wonder brands are taking note and adapting to their wants and needs. 

Born from the mid to late 1990s to the early 2010s, this group is reported as the most diverse and fluid. Not afraid to speak out, they challenge traditional beauty standards, culture, tradition and even politics. Just look at the protests in Iran, primarily spearheaded by girls and women from this generation. 

This is what Gen Z in the Arab world want from beauty today. 

Beauty should be social
Gen Z spends roughly four hours and 15 minutes on their phones every day, according to a report by the Global Web Index (GWI), a consumer data company based in the UK. Compared to other generations, this is high. However, their attention span is short, at just eight seconds, in comparison to millennials, who come in at approximately 12 seconds, according to TikTok.

This time is largely spent on social media platforms where beauty brands have the opportunity to share their story and sell. The Arab market should be a focus, with women in Saudi Arabia and the UAE topping the global charts for spend on makeup and skincare. This is according to a recent study by discount site which shared that the former spends on average $909 and the latter $694 annually. 

With 2-in-5 of Gen Z saying they are easily influenced by other people’s opinions (from GWI), using social media and influencers who can market on different platforms makes sense for the beauty business. Failing to create a connection with your Gen Z audience can, and has, led to brands losing their interest, engagement and, as a result, sales.  

Beauty should be inclusive
Beauty advertising has changed a lot in the past decade and has led the way for inclusivity in other industries. It still, however, has a long way to go. Gen Z value those brands that reflect who they are. An example comes with foundation, where they believe they shouldn’t have to ask for more shades. It should just happen.

YPulse, a company in the US that collects industry insights from Gen Z and Millennials, released findings that showed that those Gen Z’s who were surveyed agreed that brands that create products for skin are responsible for representing all colors and tones. It goes deeper than skin tone, too. Inclusivity has developed to include ethnicity, race, body size, disabilities and gender. Gen Z wants to see brands as people who align with their ethos. If they wouldn’t be friends with the brand, then they won’t buy from them. 

The Arab Gen Z consumer is still lacking in terms of representation, hijab-wearing women are a prime example. Only in the past five or six years have headlines in the press announced hijab-wearing models ‘breaking barriers’ by fronting major beauty campaigns. Examples include Nura Afia, cast for Cover Girl in 2016, and Halima Aden joining the line-up of models for Rihanna’s first Fenty Beauty campaign in 2017. Steps in the right direction, but it’s moving too slowly, representation of Arab women in beauty should be a norm. It was only in 2018 that L’Oréal Paris Elvive ‘made history’ by casting a hijab-wearing model in a major hair campaign (beauty blogger Amena Khan). 

Beauty should be transparent
The Gen Z consumer, thanks mainly to social media, is one of the most informed to date. When they go to buy something, they will know everything about it. This includes the brand’s ethics and practices. A report by Facebook stated that Gen Z isn’t as impulsive as other generations, placing more importance on considerations like ethics and sustainability than price.

A report in 2020 by First Insight, a leading data-driven platform in the US, also shared similar findings, with 73% of Gen Zs interviewed saying that they were willing to pay more for sustainable products. As said, Gen Z is clued up, meaning they want proof, so no greenwashing here. Brands need to be transparent in their communication, and they also need to back up their claims.

Beauty brands can do this by being authenticated through recognized certifications, such as the Leaping Bunny and ECOCERT COSMOS. These accreditations take time and money, but, as the report by First Insight shows, 54% of Gen Z are willing to pay out more than 10% extra for a more sustainable product, making it a worthwhile step all around.