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Claims and Promises

By: Imogen Matthews
Posted: November 29, 2011, from the December 2011 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Theresa Callaghan*, president and founder of Callaghan Consulting International, believes the reason companies use so few volunteers is because of cost. “Testing is treated as the ‘sore thumb,’ but should be right up there at the beginning of the product concept and development,” she maintains. “Cosmetic companies should have an idea about the claims they want to make based on consumer need, and so should have up-front dialogue with clinical companies.”

Meanwhile, consumers are left with a sea of claims, and are not always entirely sure which are valid. Many read beauty blogs as a way of validation, knowing that blogs tend to review products on a neutral basis. “Consumers these days spend a lot of time looking at online reviews of any product they buy,” affirms Padmanabhan. “In some cases, online retailers or the websites of store-based retailers put customer reviews about the products on their websites, which is another place they can check out if a [product’s efficacy meets the claim made].”

Beauty experts, doctors and media are all big influencers on consumers too—in addition to other consumers. Lewis says consumers will often look to other beauty product consumers and what they deem as experts for confirmation that a product really works. “The online community of users is very powerful, and is increasing in popularity as a source of information. Celebrity users or testimonials also influence a certain segment of consumers that skew younger,” she explains.

“Ideally, you should take any marketing claim with a pinch of salt,” recommends Padmanabhan. “But unfortunately for some consumers, they have to buy the product and realize that it doesn’t work for them.

*Euromonitor International, Wendy Lewis and Theresa Callaghan will participate in the 2012 In-cosmetics marketing trends presentations, taking place in Barcelona April 17–19, 2012.