Women want cosmetic brands to work harder

It’s time to kiss and make up: women want beauty brands to do more than one thing and simplify the process of looking good.


A facelift in a bottle, an instant pimple zapper and a skin airbrushing cream are all products that women would like beauty brands to provide, according to research shown to Marketing Week that indicates women want cosmetics products to work harder.

With beauty standards higher than ever, women are demanding products that are multipurpose, for brands to provide detailed information and to see genuine celebrity endorsements.

Click the table to enlarge: how often do you make a major change to your beauty routine in terms of types of products/activities?

These are just three of the key findings from agency McCann WorldGroup’s Truth About Beauty study of 20,000 people in 15 countries including the UK, France, Brazil and China.

It reveals that personal satisfaction is still derived largely from maintaining an attractive external appearance. According to 67% of respondents, being beautiful “helps you to get more out of life”.

McCann WorldGroup global IQ director Laura Simpson says brands can do more to help guide the process of discovery, choice, purchase and application of products, as beauty regimes become more complex.

“Women see having more choice as positive, but there is also a feeling of being overwhelmed when choosing a product in a store.”

This is why more women are going online for advice. Simpson adds: “We looked at how women are using blogs, websites and other channels and it was amazing the frequency with which they consult them.”

Multiple categories

Simpson claims there is a growing desire for manufacturers to offer a whole range of products that work together, rather than communicating a single product at a time.

For example, 24% of those surveyed in the UK feel positively towards brands that make many different products, compared with 74% who feel neutral about this.

“Women don’t think about products in isolation,” Simpson claims. “If they buy a self-tanning cream, they want the right accompanying moisturiser or exfoliator.

“Brands can improve cross-fertilisation and can benefit from offering a system of ‘solutions’ to women. In some markets, women are saying that when they like a brand, they want to buy more products from it in different categories.”

Click the table to enlarge: when it comes to looking beautiful, which of the following are most important (global?)

Anti-ageing is still a strong priority for women. InStyle beauty director Alice Ripman suggests this will never disappear from their agenda, but says that rather than considering surgery, there will be more of a pursuit to improve health and wellness (see the Frontline, below).

This view is highlighted in McCann’s study. While 76% of all respondents agree that using the right beauty products can make you look younger for longer, almost as many (64%) say that eating the right food is the most important contributing factor towards looking beautiful. This is followed by drinking lots of water (43%), getting sufficient exercise (38%) and protecting yourself from the sun (16%).

The study also shows that in some markets girls as young as 12 think about ageing in relation to their looks. Brands obviously shouldn’t exploit this on a selling level, says Simpson, but can become advisers on an overall lifestyle, rather than simply talking about their own products.

“Younger women are thinking very proactively about the future and ‘whole’ beauty, which is as much about health as it is about beauty products,” she explains. “Even if you are just selling one item, like mascara, it doesn’t mean you can’t advise on a wider spectrum of beauty such as supplements or fashion accessories.”

The demand for more multitasking, harder working, greater value products is evident from the focus groups McCann ran in conjunction with the global survey.
“I want one product that has everything I need so I don’t have to bring every single bottle or tub everywhere,” says one focus group participant. Others gave suggestions such as mascara that also curls lashes on application.

InStyle’s Ripman confirms that multipurpose products, such as a foundation that doubles as a moisturiser, are becoming bestsellers. Both KMI Brands chief executive Herbie Dayal and New CID cosmetics owner Kelly Colman add that the multitasking trend is something they consider in their own product development (see the Frontline, below).

The research also examined the marketing of beauty products and discovered women spend a lot of time analysing advertising and want to see more realistic campaigns. Eighty-six per cent of survey respondents want to see naturally beautiful women “with a few lines” in advertising and 50% mind when photographs of celebrities are airbrushed.

While 44% do believe that celebrities use the products they endorse, 90% say they want them to be famous for something other than their looks. New CID’s Colman claims make-up artists endorsing her products is more valuable than a celebrity doing so.

Emerging markets

The attitudes of women in emerging markets contrasts with the views of women in more mature markets, with the appetite for new products much larger in China, Brazil and Mexico compared with the UK, US, Germany and France.

In China, 63% say they make major changes to their beauty routine every couple of months or more, compared with just 29% in the UK.

“In China, Brazil and India, beauty is going through a process of being democratised,” says McCann’s Simpson. “There is so much excitement and enthusiasm around beauty in emerging markets. Women are playing with products, picking, choosing, trying and that’s reflected in the trend to consult blogs and videos, which is accelerated in emerging markets.”

KMI’s Dayal adds that brands are able to create unprecedented loyalty in emerging markets. “In mature markets, consumers are less likely to change brands because the beauty industry has been around for so long. But there are still probably 1 billion people in China who don’t use any skincare products so the beauty industry has a long way to go in countries like this.”

He notes that individual market influences are important to consider and it is worth noting what beauty traits are considered ideal in different countries. For example, 26% of Brazilians think Danish women are the most beautiful, while 18% of Germans think Brazilians top the list. For 14% of British women, it’s Italian beauty that they aspire to.

McCann’s Simpson warns brands not to take this literally and start using Brazilian models to market to German consumers, but weave the concept of foreign beauty more subtly into their messaging. “It wouldn’t work to communicate with Germans using images of dark-haired, tanned women because women there just don’t look like that. It would be about taking the beauty tips and recommendations from Brazilian women to the German market,” she says.

Concern about their appearance will always be at the top of mind for women, wherever they live in the world. But as brands develop more products that can enhance beauty routines, this study shows the industry can do more to help women navigate the process.

The frontline


Kelly Colman, owner, New CID cosmetics

Women are now spending their money on good skincare. We’ve seen a purchasing trend towards foundations and primers, which is a move away from the previous ‘lipstick economy’ concept to describe what women would continue to splash out on in times of economic difficulty.

We definitely identify with the desire for multitasking products that has come out in the study. Our products are all about multiuse.

When we started six years ago, women were wearing make-up that was very ‘safe’. Now, because online video tutorials are so easily accessible, women are being more adventurous. We have tutorials on our website and we are investing heavily in making them better.

Rather than celebrity endorsements, we have make-up artists that use our products such as Lou Page, who has done make-up for Adele. It’s a real endorsement and not just about using a pretty face. This is in line with what the research is saying about women’s attitudes towards celebrities and brands.


Alice Ripman, beauty director, InStyle

A lot of the trends identified by this study boil down to the fact that people are still short of money and want to get the most out of their products. We are seeing that products have to be more than one-dimensional. Foundation is also hydrating, nail polish is now scented, lipstains work on cheeks – multitasking is filtering into every aspect of beauty.

As the research indicates, people are starting to invest in anti-ageing products at a younger age and are more aware of the effects of a poor lifestyle. I don’t think anti-ageing will ever go away as a concern but I think there is an equal priority on having healthy, bright skin.

Discounting is a big focus in this market too. Consumers appear to be obsessed with voucher sites like Groupon. Whatever state people’s finances are in, having bad roots [when hair dye grows out] or chipped nails just makes you feel down, so women will continue to look for that emotional boost through beauty.


Herbie Dayal, chief executive, KMI Brands (includes Naked, Orla Kiely and Ted Baker beauty products)

The most interesting part of the study is where the results hone in on women’s awareness of the inter-related factors of beauty. There’s no point just buying lotions and creams; you need to sleep well, drink water, take vitamin supplements and so on.

An example of where the idea of living well and using the formulations is a complete circle is our Dr Linda product range. She is a psychologist and dermatologist so the whole range is linked around the concept of “the better you look, the better you feel” and vice-versa. Dr Linda Papadopoulos is a credible spokesperson as somebody who understands skincare and health.

There is an expectation that science delivers results, and this expectation translates to skincare. To some extent you have that already. For example, moisturisers can have an inbuilt tan so they nourish and make you look better.

As the study shows, there will be more demand for this multipurpose product.

For example, we are launching a men’s range that not only styles hair but slows down the thinning of hair.

Besides the trends shown in the study, I think there is room in the market for more medically-based products that help with real skin problems, such as Bio Oil and our brand Derma Mum, which helps combat stretch marks.

McCann’s beauty tribes

McCann WorldGroup’s Truth About Beauty global study has uncovered five beauty ‘tribes’ to help brands categorise the demands and desires of different demographics.

Powerful Peacocks believe beauty reflects success and vice-versa – 46% of Chinese women in the study identify as this.

Seductive Foxes view beauty as being sexy and about getting what they want. Youthful appearance is key and plastic surgery socially accepted. This is highest in Brazil (34%), followed by the US (31%) and Mexico and China (both 29%).

Social Butterflies see beauty as a social experience, thriving on swapping tips among friends. Indexes most highly with people in Mexico (43%) and Brazil (33%).

Graceful Swans define beauty as confidence and contentment and not the most important part of life. Most common in France (39%), followed by the UK (33%) and Germany (30%).

Comfortable Cats are not convinced that they need products to be beautiful. They rebuff beauty conventions in favour of their own standards. Most likely to be from the US (30%), Germany (29%) and the UK (28%).

Click the table to enlarge


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