As with all life lessons, it’s not what you do right that is the main factor in success, but the mistakes that are made and lessons learned, which are infinitely more valuable. And why not learn from the mistakes of others, to avoid those costly endeavors? Companies considering entering the natural/organic beauty or cosmeceutical/nutricosmetic market may wish to look at the following market keys.
First, don’t underestimate the power of “free”. During the past two years, consumers participating in focus groups reiterated they do not want preservatives in their skin care or cosmetics products—especially in products touted largely as “natural.” Women have become savvy about reading ingredient labels and have read enough bad press about parabens and other ingredients to demand their absence in new products.
This qualitative factor was underscored by the results of the 2008 Pink Report™ The Age of Naturals, a survey of nearly 2,000 U.S. beauty-buying women. Approximately 73 percent of respondents chose “–free” (paraben-free, hydroquinone-free, etc.) as the primary message they wanted to see on product labels. New “natural” beauty products that contain these types of ingredients will have a long shelf life indeed—in the aisles of the store but not at home in her bathroom.
Next, avoid science-jargon. The trend toward health words is indeed rising with words that play on emotions (the emotion of fear and other emotional aspects of words that connote beauty, nature and youth) leading over words that might appeal to the rational side. From a list of 17 choices, respondents listed their least favored beauty terms as: therapeutic (40 percent), radiant (37 percent), dermatology (32 percent) and science (9 percent). To test not just the words, but the phrases that appealed to both natural beauty-buying women and those who usually buy traditionally made beauty brands, respondents ranked seven bits of descriptive language from well-known beauty product makers based on level of believability in the claim. The statements were ranked from 1 (least believable) to 5 (extremely believable) (Chart 1). The claims she felt were most believable were those with a clear explanation of nature’s benefits to her skin using soothing, fresh and natural language. Claims using clinical terms and statistics left her cold.
Most believable language/claim:
“Naturally cleansing soap bark and healing aloe moisturize and soften skin while effectively removing makeup and dirt. Chamomile soothes and Echinacea reduces inflammation and tightens pores for naturally fresh, healthy skin.” Natural Beauty Buyers:
79% believability Traditional Beauty Buyers: 59% believability
Least believable language/claim:
“This intelligent moisturizer reduces lines by 24% while intelligently hydrating the skin only where it needs it.” Natural Beauty Buyers:
29% believability Traditional Beauty Buyers: 26% believability
Although soothing words of beauty are most believable to her, she still wants proof the product actually works, especially when it comes to nutricosmetics or cosmeceutical products. In another survey, women were asked how important certain factors are when considering a nutricosmetic product that they will ingest as part of their beauty regimen. The results—67 percent of women who buy natural/organic beauty products mostly want to know if the nutricosmetic product has been independently tested and analyzed for potency, effectiveness and purity.
Then, review all aspects of product integrity. To illustrate this point, consider one beauty brand that thought it had it all. Great looks, efficacy, and an enviable customer base. Its products were all-natural and had a reputation for making women feel and look more beautiful. The company often touted its use of all-natural ingredients as a key to its success. One day, that brand realized it was still using animal hair in its cosmetics brushes—a fact that 65 percent of women adamantly opposed in one survey. The brand changed the way it manufactured its brushes to appeal to women’s anti-animal testing or anti-animal product practices. The moral of this story is simple: remember all aspects of the product offering when extolling its virtues as a natural product with no harmful chemicals and no animal products.
Finally, don’t skimp on the SPF. Whether a product is natural/organic or traditionally made, more women expect a hefty sun protection factor (SPF) included in their skin care products. In a recent Pink Report survey, 61 percent of women who normally buy natural/organic said they expect SPF in their skin creams. Expectations for a high SPF factor are increasing as well. Focus group results came back with similar findings. When women learned about a particular skin care product, had touched and felt it, and were asked how they felt about it, they said the SPF 15 wasn’t enough. As women understand the dangers of ultraviolet (UV) rays, they are upping their demand for, at the very least, SPF 20 in skin care products. Bottom line: more SPF is a good thing, as long as the ingredients used to achieve a higher SPF don’t compromise its natural or organic status.
Alisa Marie Beyer is CEO of The Benchmarking Company (TBC), a research and branding firm focused exclusively on the beauty industry. TBC is the publisher of the Pink Report™, consumer research reports driven by results from the women-only, permission-based Pink Panel and other sources. BenchMarkingCo.com.