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Web 2.0 and the Cosmetic Industry

By: Randy Schueller and Perry Romanowski
Posted: February 20, 2007

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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.

Forums consist of member-written threads, which are a series of comments about a specific topic. These comments may be moderated or reviewed by the person(s) managing the forum before they are posted publicly. Forums may be managed by private groups or they may have commercial sponsors. These virtual communities can be an exciting way to tap into what consumers are saying about the products they use and their beauty care habits and practices. It’s amazing—a brand manager can read what thousands of consumers say they like and don’t like about every type of cosmetic product imaginable. Again, this information is no replacement for real consumer research, but it can be a valuable tool.

One of the most interesting aspects of forums is the sense of virtual community that can develop for regular users. An example of this kind of community is the Long Hair Forum (longhaircareforum.com/home.php), which, as the name implies, is dedicated to the topic of growing long hair. Members share pictures of their hair, discuss how long they’ve been growing it and swap their favorite tips and tricks. There also is plenty of lively debate about the best type of hair care products to use on very long hair—their hair care tips forum features an astonishing 652,000 conversations.

If you are interested in makeup and skin care insights, check out the forums offered by some of the major beauty magazines. The forum for Allure magazine (boards.allure.com/index.jspa) is a good place to start. Total makeovers, a directory of spas and salons, plus listings of readers’ favorite products are among popular forum topics. Skincarescience.com’s forum (www.smartskincare.com/forum) also allows readers to discuss their favorite skin care products, but this site is special because it has a scientific, rather than marketing, perspective. Another good forum is Leslie Baumann, MD’s, skin care forum, (www.drbaumann.com/forum/). Baumann is the author of The Skin Type Solution and a professor at the University of Miami—as well as the chief of its division of cosmetic dermatology.