Touch, smell and look: why do sensory aspects of beauty formulations matter?

By Lucy Whitehouse contact

- Last updated on GMT

Touch, smell and look: why do sensory aspects of beauty formulations matter?

Related tags: Personal care products, Psychology

We caught up with beauty consultant Kim-Davy Hoeu on what difference the sensorial elements of a beauty or personal care products can make.

The market expert says that data shows a global appetite among consumers for their products to involve strong sensory benefits.

Texture and psychology

According to Hoeu, consumers link sensory factors  to functionality, another key consideration in the consumer’s product selection process.

Hoeu interviewed consumer psychologist, professor and consultant Carole Berning on the topic, who said: “Sensory attributes have a major impact on consumer product perception and appeal across all five sense and every product category I've ever worked on.

There are likely thousands of examples of how modifying a specific sensory attribute results in significantly altered product performance ratings as well an overall ratings and sales.”

Texture, according to the expert, is one of the crucial factors consumers rely on to determine a sense of a product’s quality.

Texture plays a huge role in the perception of product performance across many categories but is especially key for personal care products.

Thickness leads to the perception of better moisturizing. Lower viscosity is perceived to be "watered down" and less effective.

Characteristics of lather also alter perceived product performance...creamy vs airy vs low sudsing​.”

The expert suggests it’s the idea of the expectations sensorial aspects can cue for a consumer that make the difference.

From a psychological standpoint, i think a major principle at work here is that of expectations. The color/texture/smell/etc. sets up an expectation in the mind of the consumer based on his or her previous experience.

“The product usage experience therefore gets either help or hurt in terms of expectations before it is even used. Since many performance attributes are in reality hard to distinguish given the wide range of variables encountered in everyday life, the product will be judged to perform as expected unless it seriously outperforms or underperforms during use​.”

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