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Opportunities in Body Care Come to Light Via Social Media

By: Sourabh Sharma
Posted: November 25, 2013, from the December 2013 issue of GCI Magazine.

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In body care, consumers want their brands to be fun, calming and conscientiousness. However, only a handful of brands have a relative strength in these areas, while many fall short with an inherent weakness. Only Garnier, Olay and Bath & Body Works are considered fun brands, while Aveeno, Neutrogena and Dove are considered calming. No brand is considered conscientiousness.

Similarly, several brands have very few traits that they can capitalize on as strengths. If you look on the bright side, this offers brands a plethora of opportunities to create a personality for themselves that is both distinguishing and desired.

Keeping the interpreted brand profile in mind, consumers aspire to have feelings of appreciation, happiness and surprise from their body care products. While several brands evoke appreciation and happiness, they also embody weaknesses in other desired emotional evocations. While Clinique can improve its appreciation, it can claim a forte in evoking happiness, alongside Neutrogena, Olay and Bath & Body Works. One of the most loved brands, Bath & Body Works, only succeeds in evoking happiness, while it needs to improve perceptions of trust and surprise. (Table 5)

Both analyses help explain the love-to-hate matrix, too. Clinique, despite not having strengths in key personality traits, evokes happiness and anticipation, the former of which is much desired in the body care category. And Garnier, despite being fun and appreciated, has a solid weakness in every other type of emotion and personality trait, making it a likely candidate for its position in the hate quadrant. Similarly, Dove becomes a neutral-to-disliked brand owing to a lack of strength or weakness in many of these categories.

Purchase Behavior Via Social Media

One of the main goals of marketing research is to assess purchase behavior. And sure enough, social media can help here as well. Naturally, most consumers speak of past purchases when sharing their interactions with brands. However, Nivea and L’Oréal Paris have consumers speaking the most about a repurchase, which is a high indicator of brand loyalty.

Conversely, Dove comes up as most talked about for future purchases, which might have been a good sign had Dove not been the least talked about brand overall. For Dove, this particular finding depends on a matter of proportions. Every brand should not only drive more conversation but also drive conversations that motivate repurchase and future purchase, all of which can help boost positivity. (Table 6)

Every brand launches new products. In the body care category, which is saturated with moisturizers and body butters, being new and different is critical. One of the reasons Clinique’s emergence as most loved may be because 15% of its body care conversations are about different products, exceedingly more than any other brands.

Similarly, Bath & Body Works and Nivea emerge with the most conversations about new products at 6% each. This analysis also shows why Dove is perhaps a disliked brand, owing to a lack of conversations about new products and merely 3% about different products. (Table 7)

The Path Forward

Social media has proven to be beneficial not only for viewing brands on a level playing field but also as a complement—and perhaps even a replacement—for classical research about purchase behavior. While these examples show the body care category could benefit from more positive conversations, social media is ultimately a mirror brands can use to see themselves in a new light. Because, as beauty brand owners and marketers should well know, the role of a mirror is not just to show the truth but to reflect what can be improved and how.

Sourabh Sharma comes to SKIM with a keen eye for understanding consumer behavior. He adds perspective to marketing research from his years in brand management and product development at L’Oréal, where he launched hair color and makeup products for brands in Asia and North America. His work there allowed him to file for multiple patents and present a new technology at symposiums focusing on beauty. He built on this with his work in strategy consulting in the consumer sector, which allowed him to broaden his understanding of the beauty industry. With a multifaceted background, having earned degrees in engineering and marketing and an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and the Rotterdam School of Management, Sharma enables the firms he works with to acquire a stronger understanding of their end users. Furthermore, he strives to extract value from the evolving brand-to-consumer interface through his work in social media research.