Whenever I speak to beauty consumers the number one question that I get asked is “What is the best product to use for _______?” Where the blank is a problem they want to be fixed. My answer never satisfies their quest for the best product, because I tell them that there is no such thing as the ‘best’ product. colour
Why do I believe this?
I believe to understand the quest for the best product, one must look at consumers and how they use beauty products.
The following reasons are mutually exclusive of the changes a consumer can go through in their lifetime (changes brought about by travelling or age) and blind brand loyalty:
- Impatience: Consumers rarely give products a time to have an effect – in their eyes beauty products need to have an immediate effect consistently. So even if the best product is made but it takes 3 months to see results, consumers won’t wait that long and would have switched to another product by that time.
- Consumers change brands often: Female consumers are particularly guilty of this. Whenever I get the privilege to talk to female consumers about their relationship with beauty products and brands, two themes come up:
1) You must change your products often because your skin/hair becomes ‘used to’ the product.
2) You must keep using the same product because your skin/hair can get confused if you change products often.
In scenario one, there is no brand loyalty as a woman will always be changing her products, so she will never find her ‘best’ product. In the second scenario, there is no brand loyalty until a woman finds her ideal product – which comes with time as there is a lot of experimenting for her to find her ideal product.
- Mixing brands: one thing for sure, consumers rarely use all the products in a range. A person’s skincare routine could include Murad’s Clarifying Cleanser, the Garnier Skin Naturals Start Afresh Refreshing Toner, Olay Complete Lightweight moisturiser and the Balance Me Congested Skin Serum . All this mixing doesn’t give the user the chance to know which product works best because products ‘tend to work best’ within their product range (well, that’s what brands have been the narrative from brands for a long time now). What I mean is, here you have different products that target different issues, it could be difficult for a consumer to differentiate the efficacious product. Did the cleanser really help to even with the acne, or was it the serum? Would you have had the same results if you used the whole Balance Me or just the serum?
- Trends: Trends play a big part in all of this. Trends are actually powerful tools that cause consumers to spend with their emotions. Celebrity endorsement, beauty influencers, product placement, peer pressure – whatever it may, consumers are easily swayed from brand to brand.
- Expectations: Consumers have different expectations for products. Some of these expectations are (but are not limited to) the following:
- The packaging of the product: how does it deliver the product, is the packaging beautiful on a dresser table or in the bathroom? Does the packaging wear off/breaks easily with use? Does the packaging waste product? Remember Urban Decay’s Primer Potion old packaging and how women had to cut it open?
- Are the ingredients all natural and organic? Will it need to be stored in the fridge like Lush’s Love Lettuce face mask?
- Product size: is it one use or two products in one like this mascara? Can a consumer use the product for a long time?
- Branding message: is it tested on animals? Does it have the rabbit to prove this? Is it a vegan product? Ecocert certified? Fair trade ingredients?
- Product range: Is the product apart of a complicated range, like Clinique’s 3 step program? Would you need all 5 products to see results or would it be okay with just one?
- The fragrance of the product: what it smells like in the tube, during application, and throughout the day.
- The colour of the product: in the tub and during the product’s lifetime.
Now, what does this means for you, Beauty Founder? It means that there will always be a demand for products. As long as a founder meets a need, their brand can be successful. Being niche is powerful. Meeting a need or solving a problem keeps cash flow constant.
The success of your beauty business is not solely dependent on your formulation, but on the product (packaging and formulation), marketing and branding as well as your online presence.
This also means bad news for beauty founders. In your contingency plan and business plan, it is wise to be prepared for inconsistency within your customer base. Do your best to build a tribe around your brand but know that even when your tribe is created, a large portion of your customers may not be repeat customers. They will love your brand and celebrate with you, but brand loyalty for cosmetics is fickle.
So, to round up:
- The aim to create the best product is setting a beauty founder up for failure as the definition of a the best product varies for different demographics.
- It is better to create the best brand experience for your customers through efficacous formulations, consistent marketing and beautiful/effective packaging.
- Beauty founders should embrace the changing appetites of consumers as a way to bring more people into contact with their brand. They should also not get upset over having a low number of repeat customers despite a large fan base.
Armed with this knowledge, go out there Now you can go out there and conqueror and win!