Beauty industry ‘not talking to consumers’, analyst claims

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cosmetics

The economy may not be the sole reason why beauty sales are falling in the US, as market research from the NPD Group points to evidence that consumers are not being addressed properly.

In a presentation given at this month’s HBA event in New York, NPD global beauty analyst Karen Grant claimed that beauty providers are often missing what it is that consumers actually want.

“Many beauty companies are failing to realise exactly what it is that consumers want and because they are not being addressed, consumers are simply not bothering,”​ said Grant.

The reasons for this are many, but one that is particularly important is the fact that there are regional differences, which dictate different consumer patterns and demands.

Regional differences

Across the country different social and cultural trends dictate varying types of beauty consumers, depending on a variety of demographic issues such as ethnicity and age, together with weather conditions that all contribute to consumers searching out specific products.

Likewise consumer demands also change with age group, a case underlined by NPD survey results showing that the 55 to 64 age group are the most likely to say that they are buying less products at the moment.

This is highlighted by the fact that, although there has been a big rise in the number of products marketed specifically at baby boomers, the vast majority of new personal care product launches tend to be targeted at the 18 to 39 age group.

More exacting formulation research and development

Grant also pointed out the need for cosmetic and personal care providers to be more exacting in the research and development of formulations, in order to find out exactly what consumers want from their products.

Consumers often make their minds up about whether or not they like a product within the first couple of times of use, a factor that is underlined by further survey statistics showing that 47 percent of color make-up users decide they are not going to continue with the product after one week of use.

And the top reason for rejecting color make-up? The NPD survey shows that it is simply down to the product not being the right shade.

Consumers want to economise, but need ego boost

One contradiction in the NPD survey results is the fact that 42 percent of those interviewed said that they would cut back on buying beauty products if the domestic budget gets tight.

This is evinced by the fact that sales of prestige beauty products in the US fell by 7 percent in the first half of 2009, but despite this statistic, Grant pointed out that that the category has declined far less in value than most other consumer goods categories.

Ultimately Grant believes that the main reason women continue to shop for cosmetic and personal care products is the desire to give themselves an ego boost, a suggestion that is reinforced by NPD’s survey data.

“This is why I believe that the state of the economy is not the key issue, and that more importantly consumers are looking for products with more meaning that have been carefully developed around their requirements and needs,”​ Grant said.

Related topics Market Trends

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