BrandTrack: A focus on face cream

This month BrandTrack examines the face cream and lotion sector. In a crowded and fragmented market, with a vast span of products and price points, product innovation forms an essential part of brand strategy

Brands bought

Like the other personal care sectors which BrandTrack has examined – shampoos and fragrances – face cream is a crowded and fragmented market. Fifty brands were named as being purchased in June 1995 and some of these, especially those bought from Boots and Body Shop, incorporate several different product or sub-brand ranges. Purchase penetration is therefore relatively low, even for large brands; only 11 were bought by three per cent or more of buyers.

Although Boots brands have cumulatively the greatest penetration, their lead line No 7 individually achieves only three per cent total. The Nivea penetration is also split, with five per cent of all Nivea buyers specifying Visage as their purchase.

m Brand purchase is skewed by age, with Oil of Ulay, Simple, Avon and Ponds Performance all having at least 60 per cent of their buyers in the 36 to 50 age group. Body Shop and Oil of Ulay each take more than two-thirds of their buyers from the ABC1 social grades; Nivea is similarly slanted down-market.

Reasons for purchase

Loyalty is high compared to other personal care markets, demonstrating women’s reliance on a known product which ‘suits their skin’: this suitability, with ‘ingredients’ and ‘allergies’, was given by 30 per cent of buyers as a purchase rationale, and probably ties in with the high reliance on personal recommendation. However, a third of buyers had also

chosen a brand to try a new or different product, revealing the users’ constant dilemma between hope and experience.

Comparative cheapness is surprisingly significant for a toiletries market, but this may reflect the vast variations in the price spectrum from ‘consultant’ to own-label economy brands. Forty seven per cent of Boots and 32 per cent of Nivea buyers gave economy as a reason, compared to 18 per cent for Ulay and nine per cent Body Shop .

m Buyers acknowledged the effectiveness of a wide range of media advertising and promotional techniques. Magazine advertising and on-shelf, in-store promotions influenced slightly more buyers than TV ads, but free samples, consultant advice and trial size purchase also swayed more than ten per cent of buyers.

Magazine ads were a particularly strong factor for Nivea and Simple, TV commercials for Oil of Ulay and Plenitude. Thirty per cent of Body Shop buyers gave ‘not tested on animals’ as a reason for purchase, an interesting example of a corporate stance influencing specific product choice.

Advertising recall

Sixty four per cent of face cream buyers remembered advertisements for one or more brands in June. Thirty-five brands were specified, of which 11 were recalled by at least four per cent of the sample.

Oil Of Ulay dominates the advertising recall league, being recalled by 26 per cent of respondents, nearly half as many again as its nearest rivals Nivea, Synergie and Plenitude. Advertising recall does not follow purchase as closely as in most markets, because of the high distribution and popularity of non-advertised brands.

Advertising recall is not strongly slanted by age, regionality or social class, with the exception of the premium brands Clarins, Estée Lauder and Lancôme, whose recall is limited to ABC1 buyers. As their penetration, although small, is evenly spread, it would appear that this recall reflects media choice rather than inherent lack of appeal.

Media expenditure

Register-MEAL recorded 53 brands or cosmetic houses advertising in the twelve months ending June 1995; of these, only 11 spent more than 1m. Nivea concentrated support on Visage, allocating 70 per cent of annual, and all its June spend, to the sub-brand.

Media choice seems to be influenced not just by budget size, but by market positioning. Although TV accounts for 55 per cent of total expenditure, this is effectively split between the seven brands with TV budgets of more than 500,000, all mass-market with the exception of Max Factor. Lancôme, Arden, and Estée Lauder devote their considerable budgets entirely to magazine advertising.

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