Gen Z Social Media Trends Continue to Influence CPG Industry with ‘#GirlMath’

September 19, 2023
by Santiago Solutions Group

When it comes to capturing the attention of GenZ consumers, keeping up with the latest social media trends is worth every marketer’s time. A recent Ad Age article “Girl Math TikTok Trend — How Brands Can Get It Right”, discusses the idea of “#girlmath”, where users create videos that highlight the costs and bargains of their makeup routines. This trend has gained popularity among beauty enthusiasts and brands like Ulta Beauty, Fenty, and Five Below. For example, Ulta Beauty used this trend to promote its loyalty program as a way to reduce overall costs for customers. These brands are actively engaging with the trend by sponsoring TikTok creators or using it as an opportunity to connect with their target audience. The “#girlmath” trend provides a platform for consumers to explore and discuss the affordability of makeup products, fostering transparency and relatability in beauty marketing.

The trend of ‘#girlmath’ follows other extremely popular trends like ‘#girldinner’ – all of which humorously highlight a common understanding and sense of belonging that women, especially GenZ women, on TikTok can share. Additionally, it allows users to create their own unique twist on the trend. This concept goes beyond just makeup, with several users explaining in videos that #girlmath is about the joy of a bargain and finding value in all purchases. Users claim that cash purchases feel free, items under $5 feel free, and more expensive purchases can be justified into a bargain if it is thought of as ‘cost-per-wear’ or if it would prevent an even more expensive cost in the future. This trend has created a community of GenZ and Millennial women and cuts across all cultures and countries with videos from Asian, Black, and Hispanic TikTok users.

Although some criticize the trend for encouraging bad spending habits, a millennial private equity founder explains in this Business Insider article that ‘#girlmath’ is most often used for discretionary income which can empower women to make thoughtful and intentional spending decisions that add value to their lives, both big and small. “Girl math challenges conventional financial rationality, providing a perspective on spending’s value instead of discouraging purchases”.[1]

Brands that use these trends correctly and creatively can garner both an increase in brand trust and sales, as a study mentioned in the Ad Age article mentioned that social media ads and sponsored content contribute to more CPG purchases than TV ads when looking at GenZ consumers. As with all trends, brands must do proper research and be careful to avoid falling into stereotypes that will offend consumers. In the article, Cindy Gallop, CEO of IfWeRanTheWorld, emphasizes the importance of empathy in marketing. “The fatal thing for a brand to do would be to take this literally and talk down to consumers… I see too many brands fail to respect consumers, especially when those consumers are female.”[2]

TikTok trends are ever-changing and often transform into new variations of trends over time. Advertisers who work with multicultural marketing agencies and consulting groups can gain deeper insights into all segments including gender, race, generational, LGBTQ+, PWD, and more. In learning the various values and nuances unique to each segment, marketers can be empowered to connect with their target audience in a more authentic way while still capitalizing on the social media trends that will capture consumers’ attention.

[1] A millennial private equity founder explains how the ‘girl math’ taking over social media can help more than it hurts (
[2] Girl math TikTok trend: Ulta, Fenty, Five Below and other brands | Ad Age

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For 20 years, Santiago Solutions Group (SSG) has guided growth pathways for scalable returns by uncovering cultural and marketplace insights.
These insights forge the fact-based foundation for effective business and brand growth strategies aligned with cultural insights across Hispanic & Asian acculturation levels, Black, LGBTQ, Non-Hispanic White, Gen Z, Millennials, and other segments.

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