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Branding for Generation Z; the Dissolution of Stereotypes

The world at the moment is in a state of flux. We have wars kicking off. We have useless people in power, we got the environment slowly decaying with seemingly no solution or end in sight. We have a slow brain drain across society. A strong movement to a technological dystopia. However, one thing we can be proud of ourselves for is the decent degree of progress we have made in recent years dissolving aspects of gender stereotypes across many areas of society.

Celebrities such as Harry Styles have been influential in normalising less traditionally masculine presentations of men, which is vitally important in combating the negative effects that toxic masculinity has had on society. Breaking down hegemonic ideals to shake up the foundation of our society is incredibly important in this day and age.

A strong example to look at that reflects the current cultural zeitgeist is looking at the beauty industry and how elements of it have transitioned into a much more gender neutral approach in recent years;

War Paint for Men

The makeup industry has always been presented as and branded towards a much more traditionally feminine target audience; the level of stigma seen towards men that would choose to wear makeup has always been a huge factor in society and although things are beginning to shift, there is still a large taboo against it. Although at some points controversial, the brand War Paint for Men has a target of destigmatising and encouraging more traditionally masculine men to try out makeup. This provides a good case study to look at in relation to shifting attitudes towards gender stereotypes in the beauty industry. With how successful the brand is as a whole, it shows the direction cultural perspectives are going.

However, it must be said that the brand itself has faced some controversy regarding their fairly hyper-masculine brand presentation. Bold, contrasting black and whites give an almost exclusionary tone to the brand which some have said is counterintuitive to the direction we should be going in. Vice

However, a counterpoint suggests that it is ultimately positive to get more hyper-masculine men interested in a more typically feminine area, especially when the brand itself is ethical, sustainable and cruelty free.

Science Over Aesthetics

As well as brands focused on bringing more traditionally masculine men to a more feminine industry, there are a lot of big brands at the moment seeing success with an extremely gender neutral, science / natural focused approach. Most notably an example of this is the success of ‘The Ordinary’ skincare products, especially amongst Gen Z, as well as the strong reputation of Aesop.

Both of these brands use very natural, simple designs and colour schemes which place the focus of the brand on the effectiveness of the product instead of any beauty promises featuring unrealistic beauty standards and similar things. These brands show the ways in which Gen Z can be successfully targeted;

Gen Z and how to market towards them;

Authenticity. Gen Z values authenticity over anything else and this can be seen incredibly clearly in the brand The Ordinary. “Key to the success of The Ordinary is its no nonsense product names. Take its top selling Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%. Yes, the company actually gave a skincare product a name that sounds like something out of a chemistry book.” Indigo9digital

Gen Z appreciates the no nonsense approach that this brand communicates so well; it is incredibly honest and trustworthy, and with the beauty industry being so laden with false promises, this is a refreshing breath of fresh air which no wonder is successful.

Movement to a better future

Ultimately, the beauty industry is slowly shifting to one that is much more inclusive and accepting of identities outside of the hegemonic norm. Different brands can be analysed and seen to be contributing in different ways for different reasons, but ultimately the direction things are moving in seem to be positive.

Gen Z as a generation are very quickly becoming a strong figurehead for this acceptance, and brands need to match that if they want to be trusted by them. Hopefully the direction things are going in will keep this momentum moving forward and we will live in a better world in the future.


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