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The New Age of Antiaging

By: Jeff Falk
Posted: August 11, 2009, from the August 2009 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Ada Polla: Consumers are still interested in looking younger and in using products that will make them feel and look better. However, they are more budget-conscious. Spas that carry our line are seeing consumers purchase two instead of three or four products—a moisturizer and an eye contour cream, but not a day and night cream and a mask and eye contour cream. As a result, we are adapting our marketing language to emphasize multiple benefits in a single jar. As consumers are also getting facials less frequently, we are emphasizing the importance of a home skin care regimen to maintain the benefits of in-spa treatments.

GCI: Is it enough to simply make an antiaging claim, or do the messages about performance/target treatment area have to become more narrowly focused and communicated to consumers? There are many antiaging products for specific areas of the face, for example. Does a product’s retail success depend on it performing a very specific function? How does this challenge how you market? Does communicating the details on an expansive line make it more difficult to impart a general brand story toward connecting with consumers?

Allyson Owens: We find that a lot of people believe product claims without any background information or specific information about ingredients. However, there are an increasing number of savvy customers who want to know how a product works and what specific ingredients do. It is important to be specific and give customers as much information about a product and its ingredients. We are very up-front at DermaQuest about the performance ingredients we formulate with and even the percentages of the actives we use. We formulate with the highest recommended percentage.

Frank Massino: Definitely the message must be more focused and specifics communicated to the consumers. It seems that a product success initially relates to the amount of advertising dollars being spent, but I am not sure that most consumers, right now, are looking at the specifics, but actually expect a product to do everything. This, perhaps, is the reason that there are so many new products and line extensions introduced—as consumers become frustrated with the overall results. We need to be better at communicating exactly what a product will do and not overstate or overpromise. The biggest issue today in the antiaging treatment area is that there are no barriers to entry—i.e., no required testing to prove and substantiate the claims. Too many [companies] promise the moon, yet there are no true controlled clinical studies to back up their claims. Much of the testing that is being used to allegedly support a claim is done with focus groups; these are not controlled trials but rather opinions.

Ada Polla: I believe that the efficacy of current skin care marketing messages depends on its truth and accuracy. Above all, consumers are looking for truth and trust in marketing. That is more easily achieved from the brand’s perspective if the claim is narrower—i.e., more specific and less open to interpretation. For example: it will “increase skin firmness after one application” instead of “will have antiaging results.” At the end of the day, the consumer will still spend on products that work; that yield results.