For most beauty industry insiders, consumer product testing is one of those understood must-do’s before a brand (chiefly skin care) is fully ready to enter the market and begins to build a loyal following. And considering that 95% of new product launches fail each year, it’s easy to understand why testing is so critical to both product and brand success.
However, as consumers continue to gain knowledge and sophistication about the kinds of changes beauty products can—and cannot—bring to the skin, they are casting a more critical eye on product claims, and importantly, they are expecting not just their skin care to bring product testing claims to the table, but makeup and color cosmetic products as well.
More Than Just a Pretty Face
So, you are a beauty brand with a complete portfolio of cosmetic products in dozens of pretty colors and shades. Why should you invest in consumer product testing?
Beyond this testing giving you intimate access to your target consumer, testing your products also will give you the opportunity to garner powerful testimonials, such as “I absolutely adored this lipstick. It really lasted for a full five hours, through drinks, having dinner and even a good-night kiss at my door!”—which can be used across all platforms: packaging, marketing, social media, and on and on.
But potentially even bigger than testimonials are the consumer usage claims that are born via the product testing process—claims that can be used to leverage and secure your position in-market with consumers and the industry alike.
For example, where in the past color cosmetic brands were able to get away with uninteresting generic claims such as “long-lasting wear” or “fade-proof”—which don’t tell a compelling story or engage the consumer—now brands are raising the bar with far more specific claims, such as “24-hour cream gel shadow,” “8-hour lip color” or “10-day wear.”
Also, color brands are beginning to offer clinical claims such as, “In one week, 88% had smoother lips.” It may seem like a small point of difference, but when it comes to consumers’ reasons for choosing one shade of pink lipstick over another, the beacon consumers are flocking toward is validated proof, and that proof is the point of difference that puts the odds in your favor.
Tell a More Colorful Story
Additionally, as more and more beauty brands and products flood the market and vie for space on already overcrowded shelves, isolating your brand’s point of difference is becoming critical. Trouble is, creating that point of difference is becoming equally as challenging. Ingredients, technologies and breakthroughs are alarmingly similar, and everyone is turning to the same pool of innovation for points of differentiation.
Add to this the fact that innovations for color products have historically always lagged behind skin care anyway, and it quickly becomes very obvious why testing of color cosmetic products is a key strategy to ensure your new color product truly stands out against today’s stiff competition.
Like the elements of a great movie or your favorite best seller, the information gleaned from a consumer product test lets your brand tell a better product story. Will that lipstick really last for 2,000 kisses? Does your lip gloss truly keep a mirror shine for 18 hours? These are the kind of exciting, unique points of difference that consumers are seeking and want to hear, so tell them!
Not so long ago, the biggest difference between one lipstick brand and another was shade range or texture. Consumers also weren’t looking for the same level of performance from their color cosmetic products as from their eye creams and anti-aging serums. Now all of that has changed, and consumers expect their makeup to offer additional benefits to their skin beyond just color.
Product testing on your color cosmetic offerings provides the platform to tell your story in a bold, impactful, compelling way that will catch her attention and keep her loyalty. You already think your products are unlike any others. Tests will give you the proof.
Show Your True Colors
Finally, consumer product testing just makes sense—and cents. Although the economy is seeing an uptick, financial concerns and budgeting are still very much top of mind for the majority of consumers, and discretionary spending is still being considered carefully and thoughtfully. In addition to wanting color cosmetic products that deliver more than just color, consumers are seeking reasons to not only believe in your brand but to keep believing in your brand on a repeat basis. The claims garnered during product testing can provide your brand with just such a difference.
Certainly color shades, ingredients and brand positioning play a part in how and why a consumer chooses one product over another, but at the end of the day, the differences between colors and shade ranges is minimal and ultimately no longer enough of a differentiator for consumers. In fact, many consumers find the plethora of similar products confusing, and admit that when it comes to choosing the right shade of lip gloss or eye shadow, they feel hopelessly lost with so much choice. Colors and shades are no longer enough of a draw—consumers want more.
Besides testimonials and claims helping your brand stand out against the competition, this targeted information will help consumers cut through the clutter and zero in on what matters—hopefully your product and brand—as the best choice for them.
After testing hundreds of color products with consumers, The Beauty Company uncovered a few key benchmarks to get the most out of beauty product tests for color cosmetics:
- keep the group size to 50–100 women;
- plan on running your testing group anywhere from an hour (for instant claims) to 12 hours (if you are trying to capture long-lasting lipstick claims, for example) to seven days for a product like nail polish; and
- craft your survey to reflect the kinds of claims you are hoping to achieve and so that the claims are competitive to what else is being said in-market.
The Color of Brand Loyalty
At the end of the day, testing your color cosmetic products in the right way—and with the right consumers—is quickly becoming a necessary part of brand and product development. Not only will the information gleaned during this process help all internal teams understand how consumers feel and interact with your brand, but, when wielded correctly, this powerful tool can help you keep your brand at the top of her must-have shopping list today and tomorrow.
Don’t limit your potential with the consumer you most want to reach by thinking that, where color is concerned, all she cares about is what she sees in the mirror. What other women are seeing, saying and thinking about your products are equally, if not more, important—and a consumer product test is the smartest and most strategic method of capturing the real data points that make a difference.
Alisa Marie Beyer is the founder and creative director of The Beauty Company (TBC), a global beauty consulting firm offering business, strategy, consumer intelligence and branding. Serving its clients at every stage of development (from start-ups to 13 of the top 15 global beauty companies), TBC intimately understands the industry, the consumer and the market, and becomes an integral part of each client or project team. firstname.lastname@example.org; thebeautycompany.co