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Web 2.0 and the Cosmetic Industry

By: Randy Schueller and Perry Romanowski
Posted: August 28, 2008, from the February 2007 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Unless you have been completely detached from society, you have likely heard about You Tube (youtube.com) and the fact that Google recently purchased it for $1.65 billion. You Tube is an example of another useful site on the Internet, a media sharing site. At these Web sites, a community of users is allowed to upload and share nearly any kind of media they can produce. There are Web sites for sharing pictures, videos and even audio. These users are regular people who can provide fresh insights into the mind of the consumer. It’s today’s social anthropology and it is free.

For video sharing, You Tube is the premiere service. Here are actual videos of people applying makeup, styling hair and interacting with products. It is similar to visiting a salon or spa and watching the operators apply and use products. In addition to international commercials and TV programs, new product ideas abound.

For images, Flickr (flickr.com) is a great place to search. The users of this free service post any kind of picture imaginable. A really interesting feature on this site is a group called “What’s in my bag.” People spill out the contents of their purse or backpack and show exactly what they carry around with them. This provides great insight into how consumers live their lives.

If text blogs are not enough, try audio blogs—more commonly known as podcasts. These are similar to home produced radio shows about specific subject areas. A service such as Odeo (odeo.com) allows users to upload their audio files and publicize their programs. There are numerous podcasts about beauty and beauty care products. Some are better produced than others, but they all can give a new perspective on the consumer. For beauty information, a podcast such as Product Girl is great. Also try out Lip Gloss and Laptops, the “thinking woman’s health, cosmetics, and beauty podcast.”

Forums and Communities

An Internet forum is a virtual meeting place for holding discussions on any topic imaginable. These sites are an evolution of the bulletin boards and newsgroups that were popular in the 1980s and 1990s.