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In Changing Skin Care Landscape, Consumer Expectations Remain High

Posted: September 2, 2014

Diagonal Reports research shows that skin care remains the key beauty category but consumers' behavior is changing because their needs are changing. The research undertaken with skin care marketing experts in the U.S., Europe and Asia reveal that the rules governing each step of the marketing supply chain are being revised and re-written for the economics of the 21st century, and much of that is the outcome of product innovations and the subsequent changes in the way consumers perceive their skin care needs and the products to address those needs. The rise of “medicalized" skin care products and devices are among the main developments.

The professionalization of DIY skin care regimes is gaining speed and upping the ante. Tools that had been only available to qualified professionals working in spas and clinics are now readily available for at-home use. High-tech devices to apply products, analyze and treat skin care conditions, and to monitor improvements are widely used at home.

In addition, reality has forced the vast majority of skin care consumers to make pragmatic product choices. Lifestyles have been transformed, time available has shrunk, yet expectations are higher than ever. Consumers adapt by choosing convenience and efficacy. Solutions to the current problems are the priorities. In addition, the consumer is looking ahead to tomorrow and invests in preventative measures to future-proof her skin care regimes. Product effectiveness is non-negotiable—results must be measured, products must deliver, improvements must be visible and diagnoses must be accurate.

Profit margins remain protected because high prices are accepted as a matter of course by older and/or more affluent women who spend on premium and innovative products—but loyalty is fickle. The consumer switches brands when the post-launch honeymoon period comes to an end and/or when the quality of cheaper alternatives is confirmed (i.e., independently proven). Unsurprisingly, it is the more experienced and sophisticated skin care consumer who is the most conscious that price is not necessarily a proxy for quality.