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Addressing Desires of Target Consumers Through Ingredients

Abby Penning
  • Beauty ingredients can often satisfy a range of different consumers—it’s just about how they are used and presented, as well as what claims are played up.
  • The global marketplace has made ingredients more international, meaning beauty brands would do well to learn about the ingredients that are hot in other parts of the world.
  • Personalization is a continuing trend in beauty and has even reached ingredients, although much of that personalization is from a good understanding of the desire of a beauty product’s target consumer.

Ingredients in beauty products used to be more mysterious. These days, however, the great equalizer of the Internet has given an instant information outlet to any consumers curious about the ingredients in their favorite moisturizer or hair spray or eyeliner. Beyond simply leading to increased interest in beauty ingredients and how they work, this has led to the need for beauty brands to carefully consider the message certain ingredients can convey about a product, as well as what the story the ingredients themselves can tell.

Christophe Toumit, marketing manager, personal care brands, Croda, explains, “We approach our [beauty brand] customers with solutions to their problems with a focus on the benefit of the ingredient. Some of our ingredients have multiple benefits, so we can tell more than one story to our customers.” Because, more and more, the ingredients are required to tell the beauty story. “It’s about understanding our ingredients well enough to know where they might benefit a product targeted at a specific customer or market need,” explains Anu Desikan, global marketing manager for personal care, Clariant. And Toumit notes, “Whether the market area already exists or you are uncovering a new niche, you must always start from the consumers’ point of view and address what they need and want.”

Same Ingredients, Different Consumers

A great many beauty ingredients offer more than one claim or benefit, meaning they can tell different stories or be used to market different ways. “We do have different ingredients that are set to target specific market segments, but many of them also can be used in a variety of different applications to help create the best end result,” says Desikan. “Our innovative ingredients help customers tailor their products to meet the needs of the demographic they want to target, whether that is the youth market or for baby products or anti-aging.”

“Croda covers the whole age spectrum from advanced anti-aging ingredients, mainly sold under the Sederma division, to ingredients for babies, such as mild emollients for a baby’s sensitive skin,” Toumit says. “And as manufacturers of finished products target different demographics in their marketing plans, Croda offers ingredients that can support the claimed benefits for these products.”

Moving ingredients from segment to segment or region to region does require work, however. “Certain ingredients, such as skin or hair care actives, may support specific benefits, but consumers may not always be familiar with the ingredient itself,” says Toumit, and TRI-K marketing manager Rebecca Morton notes that age ranges can be targeted, in addition to specific product claims. “Our range of specialty and active ingredients can be targeted to specific cosmetic products, but overall, they are suitable for all ages and segments,” she says. “We do have actives that can be more targeted with age specifics in mind, such as our Glossamer ingredient that may be used in formulating lip gloss or our Fision Lift for anti-aging products, but we can custom tailor the actives based on what the customer wants to target.”

Ingredients can also be discussed quite differently when they are incorporated in products for women versus products for men. Morton explains, “We have a ingredient for sensitive skin called TRIglyphix Sense that helps reduce redness and irritation for skin, and can also be used for men and women shave products. The finished product for women might incorporate TRIglyphix Sense into a fruity olfactory gel, while the men’s product might feature a foamy cream with smells of cucumber and mint. You get the same active ingredient and the same benefit—irritation and redness reduction—but the finished products are targeted to very specific demographics. Knowing this gives us the chance to experiment with ingredients and find different ways for things to effectively work.” So the same ingredient is useful for different consumer segments, but it just has to be presented differently.

“Now, to be fair, the lingo to address certain issues or describe certain needs and benefits often varies from women to men,” Toumit points out. “For example, in anti-aging products for the hair, you see a different approach between men and women. For women it is about breakage versus hair [loss] for men. So when you are developing the claim substantiation and market positioning for ingredients or finished products, it is clear that benefits have to be close to what the end-consumer understands and wants to hear.” It’s vital to know the desires of your target consumers before marketing on the ingredient claims.

Additionally, familiarizing consumers with new ingredients and claims benefits can require different marketing tactics based on the audience. “Women can be more experimental in their beauty product use,” notes Desikan. “Of course, men are increasingly becoming interested in personal care, and that has meant the addition of anti-aging ingredients, SPFs and many other functions to men’s products. But, women still tend to spend more money and time on personal care and expect more from their products. Therefore, the development of products might require a different ingredient or sensorial feel to deliver expectations and provide a more enjoyable use experience.”

Regional Popularity

Of course, regional ingredient familiarity and preferences are a huge factor in translating beauty claims and desires. “The popularity of some ingredients has to do with if the plant is native to the area, so familiarity plays a big role,” explains Brien Quirk, technical director, Draco Natural Products. “For example, some types of kelp are used in cosmetics in Asia because the species Laminaria japonica is native to the seas between China and Japan. Goji berry was first tested for collagen-stimulating effects in China because it was popular and widely available. Pearl powder and sea buckthorn are very commonly used in cosmetics in China because both were used in traditional Chinese medicine. Aloe and jojoba have been popular in the U.S. because both grow here, and chamomile is very common in Europe for soothing skin because it was used for so long in folk medicine. So culture is also important in which ingredients are used.”

However, Rob Richardson, vice president and general manager with Active Organics, a Lubrizol company, also notes, “There are certainly different regional preferences, but there are also some ingredients that go across regions. For example, skin-lightening ingredients tend to be more popular in Asia, but anti-aging ingredients are used globally.”

Toumit notes some current trends, saying, “Skin-brightening or skin tone-perfecting coverage for skin that looks naturally more even, radiant and smooth, such as from a BB cream, is a trend that started in Asia but is now being introduced in North America and Europe. In Western Europe and North America, [there is a focus on] skin radiance; glow-enhancing is a popular claim, and self-tanners help to create this look. And the Brazilian blow out/straightening treatment started in Latin America and is now a huge success in North America. These regional needs, because commerce is so global now, can quickly move to other regions.”

So when bringing these ingredients to support new needs and desires in different, unfamiliar markets, Morton notes, “Brand support and understanding of ingredients is important, but it’s also about familiarity in local markets, which expand as their popularity gains. In Latin America, the quinoa grain is much more well-known than in other markets, as it used to be thought of by indigenous tribes as a sacred grain, so the local people are much more familiar with its uses and added benefits. However, the quinoa grain usage in finished products is largely increasing as the understanding of the product benefits rise.”

And in bringing an ingredient that is popular in one region into another region where it isn’t as well known, Morton also notes, “It really goes back to telling the story and having your marketing being able to clearly articulate why this ingredient is essential to your product line and what it is supposed to be doing or effecting. At the end of the day, there are only a certain amount of issues the hair, skin and nails can have—dryness, anti-frizz, anti-aging, acne, brittleness and so on—it’s all about developing the most innovative products possible to combat these issues and knowing what ingredients can be most effective in a way that will produce results. Essentially, those results are how products and ingredients gain prestige, and a larger knowledge base than they had before.”

Additionally, knowing the global and regional trends is also more important than ever for beauty brands. “Increasingly Active Organics is focused on becoming a globally viable provider with an expanded supply chain footprint, and that helps us have a better sense for what it takes to introduce a new ingredient globally or into a different market,” says Richardson. “Europeans tend to want to know more of the technical nature of an ingredient, while in the U.S. there is more interest in claims and claim substantiation—and consumers in Asia might want something else. Our global experience helps us understand that, but the common denominator is that you start with a sample ingredient in a formulation and you look to see what the market is for it. What solution is the brand looking to bring to the consumer, and how can we support that?”

Ingredient Personalization

With consumers able to reach out globally to get the products they want though, what trends are helping to spur ingredient innovation today? “We try to target our ingredients to help our customers fulfill the solutions they seek,” says Desikan. “Our ingredient portfolio can meet a range of needs, so if a customer seeks us out for a certain ingredient or ingredient type, we might also ask them, ‘Do you know the ingredient also provides an additional function?’ or ‘Have you thought about using this ingredient this way?’ or ‘These ingredients offer similar benefits and claims, but one may be more cost-effective or easy to use in your formulation.’ We try to be partners in innovation with our customers in this way.”

And Richardson notes, “We have a concept we call ‘customerization,’ and it’s about taking the market needs and translating them into a solution enabled by our ingredients, and that speaks to the customer’s needs. Maybe they want a different base or have a different preference for preservatives. We’re ready to work through all those needs.”

But is the trend of personalization trickling all the way down to the consumer in terms of ingredients? Yes, according to Toumit. “It is already happening, as the identification of needs are done within a given product category and definitely for a given target,” he says. “This is not necessarily only in terms of gender but in terms of age as well. If you think of skin, and more specifically of aging skin, for women, it is scientifically proven that the skin has different needs depending on the age and genes of a person. These needs, being different, require different solutions; therefore, different types of active ingredients, different product formats or different active delivery systems [are needed]. These considerations definitely impact and affect personal care ingredients for all products across categories.”

The specialized development of beauty ingredients according to specific consumer needs has other benefits for brand owners. “I think [the personalization trend in beauty] provides lots of opportunities,” says Desikan. “A more personalized approach means needing a greater range of ingredients to fit every want and need expressed by a consumer, because everyone wants something different, something tuned specifically to their issues and needs, and the more ingredients and elements you have at your disposal, the more you can test and match and experiment to create the right sensorial experience with the right benefits.”

In the end, it’s about finding the proper claims and talking points about the right ingredients for a particular beauty product. “If we are looking to introduce an ingredient that is completely new to a market, we rely more heavily on marketing to create and develop a story about what this ingredient is, what it does, as well as where it comes from and what benefits it has,” explains Morton. “You need to give consumers a reason to believe in the product.”

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