Beauty Store Turmoil: Gen Alpha’s Impact on Sephora and Ulta Sparks Social Media Outcry

Beauty Store Battle: Gen Alpha’s Takeover Sparks Social Media Uproar

In a clash of beauty generations, social media is ablaze with complaints from teen and adult beauty shoppers about the invasion of tweens under 12 flooding stores like Sephora and Ulta Beauty. The skirmish unfolds on TikTok and Instagram, with hashtags like #sephora and #sephorakids laying bare the conflict—chronicling disheveled stores, disrupted product displays, and tales of rudeness toward fellow customers and employees.

The grievances escalate, with reports of young shoppers boldly snatching products from others, as shared by a TikTok user singling out Drunk Elephant, a brand recently labeled a “tween obsession” by Glamour magazine. These viral posts shed light on Gen Alpha’s penchant for purchasing products traditionally geared toward slightly older consumers, containing ingredients like retinol, exfoliating acids, and high-end anti-aging skincare.

Notably, Drunk Elephant, a prominent “clean beauty” brand under Japanese conglomerate Shiseido since 2019, addressed the uproar on Instagram in December. The brand clarified which of its products would be suitable for kids, attempting to navigate the intersection of beauty trends and age-appropriate skincare. As the beauty battlefield unfolds, the clash between generations in the aisles continues to spark debates on the evolving landscape of beauty retail.

Rise of Tween Beauty: A Booming Market Shift

Explosive Growth of e.l.f. and Industry-Wide Trend

In the dynamic realm of beauty, a seismic shift is occurring, driven by a surge in tween shoppers. The evidence unfolds on social media, with hashtags like #sephora and #sephorakids reflecting the turmoil in stores, as tweens under 12 seemingly flood beauty havens like Sephora and Ulta. Denish Shah, an associate professor of marketing at Georgia State University, affirms this reality, noting that tweens are not only physically present in stores but also actively making online purchases. The surge in sales is exemplified by e.l.f., a California-based cosmetics brand whose stock prices have skyrocketed by 203% over the past year, a testament to its remarkable sales growth. Shah highlights that e.l.f. strategically positions itself as affordable cosmetics, targeting the tween demographic with precision.

Industry-Wide Growth and Expanding Demographics

The beauty and skincare industry is witnessing a broader age spread of consumers, with data from Statista projecting a 7.71% annual growth rate in the baby and child skincare market until 2028, reaching a market volume of $380 million worldwide. An estimated 160.7 million users worldwide are expected to engage with these products by the same year. This growth isn’t limited to young kids experimenting with their parents’ creams; it signals an industry expanding its reach to embrace a diverse age range of consumers. Jessica DeFino, creator of The Unpublishable, observes the proliferation of new brands specifically launched for tweens, such as Yawn, targeting customers as young as 3 years old.

The Tween Product Explosion

Tween-focused products extend beyond dedicated stores like Sephora, penetrating general pharmacy retailers like CVS and Walgreens. Brands are strategically positioning beauty products, actively marketed to kids through cross-branding with favorite childhood books or TV shows, at the forefront of these stores. The appeal goes beyond physical products, with a surge in social media marketing aimed at young consumers. DeFino notes the rise of “skinfluencers” – tweens demonstrating product usage on social platforms. This surge in marketing aligns with the increased social media presence of tweens, a demographic known to be among the biggest consumers of certain platforms.

Sensitivity, Self-Consciousness, and Sales

Tweens, in the midst of their formative years, navigate a landscape heightened by concerns about personal appearance and self-identity. This intersection of sensitivity and self-consciousness, coupled with the influence of social media, propels the sales boom in younger demographics. Shah emphasizes the enduring nature of tween preoccupation with personal appearance and self-identity, factors that have persisted for decades. The beauty and skincare industry, adept at leveraging these sensitivities, finds itself at the forefront of this substantial marketing shift.

Sephora and Ulta: The Silent Witnesses

While the physical presence of tweens in Sephora and Ulta stores remains unconfirmed due to a lack of comment from both brands, the resounding evidence points to a booming market for youth-targeted products. The data and the palpable marketing shift are compelling indicators of the beauty and skincare industry’s transformative journey, resonating not only in statistics but also in the experiences of many parents navigating the tween beauty phenomenon.


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