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Marketing Matters: Why She Won’t Buy Naturals ...

By: Alisa Marie Beyer
Posted: March 5, 2008, from the March 2008 issue of GCI Magazine.

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When asked to rank how much she agrees or disagrees with natural/organic lifestyle questions on a 1–5 scale, those who normally buy natural beauty tended to post a higher agreement level to the questions. While 83% of natural buyers agreed that natural beauty products were more expensive than synthetic ones, compared to 69% of traditional beauty buyers, 54% of natural buyers also agreed that they perform as well as traditionally made brands, compared with 19% of those who predominantly buy traditional beauty products.

Traditional beauty consumers are skeptical that a product called natural or organic will work as well as traditional beauty brands, but later sections of the report revealed that they are also curious and willing to give natural beauty brands a try. For instance, when asked which type of cosmetic brand (from the choices of a mass, prestige or natural brand) is best for a woman’s skin, 50% of traditional beauty buyers said natural brands are best (with 28% believing mass were best for skin and 22% saying prestige brands were best). Still, a slight majority of traditional beauty buyers feel that mass-market brands make them look their best at 35%, with 33% believing prestige brands do the trick, and 32% believing natural brands are the most successful.

Why Not Buy More Natural/Organic Beauty Products?
“The Age of Naturals” asked traditional beauty buying women why they don’t usually buy natural or organic beauty brands, allowing them to pick all that apply from a list of possible reasons. The number one reason they gave is that it just hasn’t occurred to them to give naturals a try. With the thousands of brands on the market clamoring for both attention and disposable income, 50% of traditional beauty buyers just haven’t given it a thought yet, and 49% don’t know enough about them to make a decision. Another third aren’t automatically jumping on the natural/organic bandwagon because their current brands work just fine for them. And while these women say that natural/organic beauty brands are “too expensive” to try them (45%), surveys and focus groups show that expense will always take a back seat to the emotional reasons behind a purchase.

Why She Might Give Natural Beauty A Try
The four pillars of non-natural beauty use (complacency, expense, ignorance and skepticism) are often swept away by simple curiosity—the desire to try what’s new and popular. No matter how many times the questions are asked (why did you switch brands? what made you first try a certain brand?), the answer that is usually first and foremost is curiosity. That was also true in “The Age of Naturals,” with curiosity ranking as the number one reason why women who normally buy natural beauty first did so.

However, fear ranks a close second for reasons to try natural beauty brands. This year’s cosmetics headlines have been inundated with fears about parabens, hydroquinone (yet again), lead in lipstick and other potential toxins. In the absence of U.S. government regulation on cosmetic ingredients as a whole, some watchdog groups are making it seem like traditional cosmetic manufacturers are asking women to smear pure toxicity on their skin.