MIA: Gen Alpha Beauty Retail

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I’m the mother of four beautiful members of Generation Alpha. Three of my children are girls and, for the most part, I’ve allowed them to explore their own interests with a smidge of autonomy. So far, their interests have gravitated to dance, fashion illustration, and Spiderman.

Drunk Elephant recently came under fire for their support of tween skincare and it begs the question: Is Generation Alpha too young for beauty retail?

But the thing that they ALL agree on is their love of hair and beauty. I spend a huge part of my day styling hair and answering questions like, “Mommy, when do I do my skincare?” or “Can we do makeup today?”  They’re obsessed, just like me! And, they aren’t the only ones!

Big Beauty’s Goldrush for Gen Alpha?

Gen Alpha refers to the two billion mini-humans who were born after 2010. These new consumers have the taste of millennials with the spending power that’s estimated to exceed that of the Boomers. Their disposable income is largely powered by the internet. Visa estimates nearly a quarter of this new generation is making their own money online.

If you scroll TikTok, you’ll see Gen Alpha’s obsession with beauty and 53 percent of 12- to 14-year-olds in the U.S. who use social media say they are interested in interacting with beauty brands online. This same demographic is spending nearly $300 a year on cosmetics, skincare products, and fragrances. Remember, the oldest Alpha is still only 14 years old.

Gen Alpha is in the discovery phase of life, and they crave guidance. They want to know things like how to start a skincare routine or if they can even wear makeup. Someone has to step up to the plate to be a source of information and inspiration other than 10-year-olds advising other 10-year-olds. The beauty industry is slowly waking up and now more brands are rushing to fill this gap.

Is Gen Alpha Too Young for Beauty?

My opinion: no. This shouldn’t even be an issue. Johnson & Johnson has provided skincare and beauty options to children since 1893 (Johnson Baby ring a bell?). As a millennial, I remember buying That’s So Raven cosmetics at Walmart and other skincare items from Limited Too. The only difference between my generation and generation Alpha is they have way more money to spend.

For example, after an impromptu shopping spree at Dollar General, I analyzed my girls’ purchases and found that they spent most of their money on face moisturizers, lip gloss, nail polish, and facial masks. They want to know more about how to take care of themselves. Selfcare is a big deal for them, and they’ve come to realize that when you look good, you feel good about yourself. Their mental health is tied to how well they can care for themselves, and I believe this to be a good thing. The only concern here would be providing safe options for our children. Fortunately, the beauty industry has already taken the steps needed to provide safe and sustainable skincare for all ages.

Beauty Retailers Who Are Stepping Up

Drunk Elephant recently came under fire for their support of tween skincare, Founding partner and chief creative officer Tiffany Masterson handled the criticism of targeting young girls with this post, “Many of our products are designed for all skin, including kids and tweens. First, I would say stay away from our more potent products that include acids and [retinols]—their skin does not need these ingredients quite yet.”

Tiny Human, an eco-friendly skincare line for kids, stands on their belief that skincare starts at birth. They are committed to providing skincare options that are gentle for developing skin while teaching kids how to properly care for themselves. Their communications tool?  Instagram.

Back in 2021, Walmart picked up tween brand Justice that distributes clothing, accessories, and beauty products. The brand was formerly known as Limited, Too and struggled after their early 2000s boom. They’ve now rebranded and are back to capture the attention of the mini millennials.

Even Sephora has earned a reputation on TikTok for the creation of the Sephora Kid— a preteen who shops at beauty retailers like Sephora or Ulta.

Opportunity Knocks

Instead of alienating an entire cohort of the market based on age, why not use the opportunity to provide the products they want and educate them on how to use them? This is a win-win situation. Will retailers and brands agree with me? Maybe not. But as for me and my household, beauty retail for Gen Alpha is a huge opportunity. Alpha beauty is here to stay.

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