As society’s understanding of gender boundaries are challenged and informed, brands that silo consumers into defined male/female stereotypes risk becoming obsolete. Gendered skincare could be considered, at best, a prejudiced outdated marketing tactic, or at worst, a socially constructed cash cow. Young consumers increasingly define their own gender norms and recognize advertising’s portrayal of masculinity and femininity as clichéd tropes. Creative agency Cult teamed up with The Diversity Standards Collective to discuss the potential of non-binary beauty. 

They surveyed thirty gender diverse consumers – 11 were non-binary, 8 transgender and 11 cis gender, 11 of the thirty were Black, Brown or Mixed Race, and all were LGBTQ.  It revealed all genders have universal wants and needs, of those questioned 91% value the condition of their skin, 91% buy regular beauty products and maintain a skin routine. 83% buy products that aren’t targeted at their gender and 65% wear make-up or nail polish regularly as part of their self-expression. 

“I am a transmale but paint my nails everyday as a sign of anarchy, and I believe it looks nice…. I have never seen a marketing campaign explicitly feature a non-binary person, and it’s very rare for queerness generally to be represented in beauty product or skincare marketing.”

In the wake of #MeToo, BLM, lockdown and even mental health awareness, brands are adapting, stereotypical male campaigns are in decline as markets shift away from toxic extremes. But beauty brands must work harder to connect with consumers by being less predictable. When discussing the role of brands in normalizing diversity and inclusion in society, 83% believe brands have a direct responsibility to support changes in cultural norms around gender. 93% think brands should embrace gender inclusivity and 90% relate to those non-binary beauty products and marketing campaigns that already do. 93% feel beauty brands that merely market by gender are not relevant. 

Just 13% of the group feels the beauty industry has the right tone of voice when it comes to gender identity. 97% agreed dividing consumers by gender identity only reinforces outdated social constructs. Fortunately, only 10% of the group felt they had not seen any positive shift in understanding over the last twelve months. 

“I do think it’s better for big brands to support social change than to uphold archaic values. Occasionally campaigns supporting once-controversial issues will chase up those still doubting. Plus, I’m all for supporting independent, ethical brands. Not liking capitalism doesn’t make me exempt from living in it.”

“By not being inclusive you are continuing to perpetuate the stereotype that only women want to look good… Gender is a spectrum… Brands help shape the way people see the world, and should support positive change wherever they can… More than ever, people don’t want to be hoodwinked or confused. We’re dealing with enough as it is.”

“The self-expression that the Beauty industry facilitates means it is in a unique position to challenge traditional mindsets and elevate multiple definitions of beauty. Only brands that embrace the full spectrum of diversity and focus on universal themes that inspire and unite, rather than divide and shame, will become the brands of tomorrow. There is a huge opportunity right now to be guided by cultural needs and desires and transform the relationships brands can have with consumers.”  Cat Turner, co-founder and CCO, Cult

“This research gives us great insight that cis gender males are rejecting the stereotyped images and masculine skewed beauty ranges that have been forced upon them for years and are now aligning more with non-binary ideals towards inclusive beauty.” Rich Miles, founder, The Diversity Standards Collective

“Gender stereotypes have become outdated and the beauty industry needs to catch up with the mentality of their consumers in order to keep appealing to them.” James Welsh, top Skincare Influencer and YouTuber.

This survey was provided by Hugo Eyre-Varnier for Cult Creative Agency

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