“Game-changer,” “inspiring” and “empowering” are not the terms that usually come to mind when thinking about a device that removes body hair. But for Gen Z (ages 10–24), razor brands have become just that.
Companies like Gillette, Billie, Harry’s, and Schick are killing it when it comes to marketing to this next wave of young adults, in large part because they have recognized key generational differences in how Gen Z navigates the world and have adapted accordingly.
Here are three insights from this category that advertisers and marketers in all industries can use to make the cut with our new and discerning customers, Gen Z.
Razor brands understand that Z has a complicated relationship with labeling their many identities
One of the most salient insights from my research with Gen Z was how complicated the nature of identity is. Representing as the most diverse generation in American history (according to Pew research) Z-ers have found a rich new lexicon in which to describe their multi-faceted identities. While being able to put your identity into words can be empowering, there was also discomfort with the limitations that labels bring and having to act according to someone else’s definition.
Schick feels decidedly with the times with its "The Man I Am" campaign, which features Z men, all found from their original YouTube content, and all champions of modern masculinity. The brand doesn’t dare try and say who they are, or what real men look like or must do — it lets them do the talking.
When talking to Gen Z, brands should take note: They aren’t interested in your marketing labels and need space to declare their complicated identities.
Razor brands know Gen Z is passionate about social issues, but are looking for others to do the talking
A group of student researchers in Oklahoma defined their generation as the “Repost Generation.” They summed it up as “Younger generations opt to share (retweet, repost, etc.) extreme opinions on social media rather than directly post their opinions, over fear of discourse in a hyper-tense social environment.”
They were passionate about their beliefs, but not willing to take up the bullhorn. Maddy C., a 16-year-old YouTube creator, told us, “I feel like disagreeing with people makes us very nervous because we’re afraid of losing friends.”
When brands take up the mantle of controversial causes, Z-ers feels they are voicing their support for their beliefs by supporting the brand — but with added safety. Though Gillette’s controversial ad tackling toxic masculinity felt squarely aimed at an enabling, older demographic in execution, the bold message was relevant message for Z, and its popularity with this age group increased, according to YPulse studies.
Gen Z is most comfortable when communicating in visuals.
In our research on this cohort’s Tinder habits, we found a greater comfort in using emojis than writing bios.
Knowing this, razor companies have redesigned their product. They’ve produced matte-handled, gold-gilded, choose-your-own-color-palette razors, in delightful packaging. Their social content turns bath time and self-care into a branded way of life. Billie invites women to share photos of their body hair to “fuzzy up the internet.”
If a razor and armpit hair can be artistic and ‘gramworthy to Gen Z, there really is no excuse for the rest of us. If brands want to resonate with Z, they’re going to have to revamp the look of their product and packaging to have content potential.
As new generations are often the bellwethers of cultural change, it’s worth taking notes from these razor brands’ playbook. Gen Z is raising the bar for marketers; hopefully we’ll follow these personal care innovators and “razor standards” to meet them.
By Jess Watts, Associate Strategic Planning Director