Beauty means business.

Cosmetics are often considered a “low-involvement” product, meaning customers often spend little effort choosing between different products. In an age of cosmetic conglomerates rapidly reverse engineering products, companies are finding that an emotional connection can be an effective way to build brand loyalty.  Loyalty is important because it can lower customer acquisition costs which can be high in the beauty market.

We conducted ethnography with women 18-22 for a major global cosmetics company.

We shadowed women who used cosmetics daily and spent a considerable amount of money per week on cosmetics in order to understand their daily routines, shopping habits, and customer needs regarding cosmetics. The findings were fascinating and indicated that women mostly used cosmetics to satisfy functional needs, such as concealing blemishes and oily skin.  But the research also found a large opportunity to capture the emotional benefits of the product, such as bonding with other women.

Make up was an art satisfying needs for control, fun, self-expression and confidence

Beyond the functional uses for cosmetics, an emotional connection emerges when both functionality and a positive usage experience are satisfied.  Make up is overwhelmingly intertwined with social dynamics. Friends are often “influencers.”  Marketers need to treat friends as important influencers in the purchasing process, just as a cereal company considers children as influencers in the purchasing decisions of their parents.  Even though cosmetic addicts may “cheat on” their favorite product in euphoric shopping experiences, they consistently come back to products with which they have emotional connections.

Opportunities for Beauty Marketers:

  • Positioning the cosmetic as a “social” cosmetic, to attach the brand with positive associations of women being with friends
  • Integrating social aspects into communications may help build an emotional connection with low-involvement cosmetics like Mascara
  • Building an intersection between the positive emotions of being with friends
  • Creating a unique social experience around the products such as parties and girl bonding


Learn more about our leading Beauty Market Research Solutions.