When COVID-19 first reared its ugly head a few years ago, we all wondered whether this would be a momentary blockage in society or something far more impactful. Unfortunately, for much of the world, COVID-19 purported to be a multi-year battle against viral infections, misinformation and political discourse.
However, a more long-term consequence of COVID is the birth of a whole new generation of consumers who think very, very differently to what we expect: we call them Gen C (C for COVID). The pandemic hasn’t just shaped an entire generation and their habits, it is still having a massive effect. Today, we wanted to take a look at how Gen C will look to consume from the beauty and cosmetics sector in 2022.
Who is considered Gen C?
BofA Global Research may be one of the first group of analysts to cite the term Gen C but it has been garnering popularity ever since the first wave of COVID-19 began its journey around the world. Of course, unlike the labels of Millennials and Gen Z, Gen C hasn’t been unofficially accepted as the go-to term for the current generation but it is picking up a lot of steam.
The general consensus at the moment seems to position anyone both between 2010 and the mid 2030s as Gen C. This is because of two factors. The first being children born between 2010 and now. These children are so ingrained and affected by the ramifications of the pandemic that it will affect their consumer behaviours and purchase preferences for the rest of their lives. This cohort has had their most important points of transition, education and socialisation, disrupted and who knows how this will affect them.
The second being that even generations that are yet to be born, will be so affected by our changed society as a result of the pandemic, that they will also exhibit new and unique consumer behaviour. And if persistent lockdowns and the constant halting of society becomes the norm, future generations will have a completely different world view.
Gen C is a generation that is operating and entering a completely new world.
Gen C and the beauty and cosmetic industry
If it’s difficult to truly ascertain who Gen C are and how they will actually consume and purchase in the future, how can the industry possibly plan for a post-pandemic future?
To start, you have to talk to the consumers today. If you’re looking to target a specific audience, you need to conduct your own research to see how they think, what their interests are and what they want a brand to be saying to society. Discerning these new trends and habits, which are likely to have staying power, will arm you with the knowledge needed to target Gen C, just like any other generation before them.
Perhaps the biggest habit of Gen Z will be the whole-hearted adoption of distanced consumerism. As the high street and physical locations are shunned, in light of pandemic-related consequences and general societal feelings towards physical shopping, Gen C will be looking for brands to provide stay-at-home solutions.
This means incorporating features such as virtual try-on services if you are a makeup or cosmetic service, instant chat rooms with beauty experts when shopping for shades and looks and even partaking in the booming live-shopping trend as a means to advertise distantly.
Roughly 35% of kids are worried about their friendships because of constant lockdowns and schools closing down to combat new variants and waves. They are concerned long summer months at home will leave them without support networks and friends to build a character off.
To that end, we have seen a major increase in the use of memes, emojis, GIFs and videos in Gen C messaging, with 9 out of 10 kids using visual tools to communicate. This is as a means to brighten conversations and add levity to a rather sapping situation. However, quite contrarily, this has increased Gen C’s yearning for deeper real-world connections – not just with their friends but also with brands and services.
If you’re going to attract the attention and loyalty of Gen C, you have to both speak their virtual language (one of love and laughter) and their physical language as well (one of meaning and truth). To toe that fine line can be difficult but good and comprehensive consumer analysis will help you make informed content and marketing decisions.
Comfort and belonging are two fundamentals that have come to the fore as a result of the pandemic. When Gen C consumes content or a service, they don’t want to see a reflection of the world they live in anymore. They are sick and tired of the harsh consequences of society and, whilst understanding and beholden to it, they don’t want to infect their indulgent purchases with it. Of course, they want brands to remain socially savvy but providing an escapist route for consumers is telling them you truly understand what they want: a way out!
We have already seen this notion of escapism content take route during the pandemic as social media platforms such as Clubhouse, Houseparty and TikTok went from strength to strength – consumers were looking for distractions from normalcy and this trend is here to stay because society is here to stay.
Your healthcare or beauty brand needs to be inventive and grand with the content and social presence you form. Yes, we know the world is currently fighting a pandemic but your consumers don’t want to hear that from you as well – they get bombarded about it 24/7 from all angles anyway.
Gen C, much like Gen Z and Millennials before them, are a particularly socially conscious generation that values escapism and virtual spaces but still holds emotional personal connections in high regard. In order to market to Gen C, you need to stay true to how they want to interact and try your products online, as well as what the tone you use to distract away from the emotional blows of society.
In truth, we are still learning about the true impact of COVID19 on current and future generations. As more time passes and more studies are conducted, the picture will become clearer. However, the short-term signs and preliminary findings tell us a lot about this new cohort known as Gen C and how they will affect the beauty and cosmetic industry in 2022 and beyond.