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Addressing Desires of Target Consumers Through Ingredients

By: Abby Penning
Posted: July 9, 2012, from the August 2012 issue of GCI Magazine.

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“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.”