Wipe Out

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Beauty, Wipes and Preservation
as published in GCI magazine November 2006

Are you trying to beat the clock to formulate products that your consumers are demanding and will find acceptable? Do you really know what they want? There are so many choices in today’s marketplace. If consumers don’t like what you have to offer, they will quickly move on to the next option.

A two-part study of cosmetic facial wipes recently was conducted by 21st Sensory. The first part was a consumer study in which a group of female consumer judges were recruited to use and rate the two facial wipes. For the second aspect, a trained SkinSensory panel identified and measured skin feel characteristics such as stickiness, wetness and amount of residue. One would expect that consumers would prefer a cosmetic removal wipe that is luxurious—thick, wet and soft. However, the company’s analysis of the two data sets revealed that while consumers do like the “luxurious” product, they preferred the wipe that more easily and efficiently removes their makeup.

The SkinSensory panel conducted descriptive analysis of two commercial facial wipes. The objective analysis was used to measure distinctions between two facial wipes and discover which one removed makeup with less effort. Using a product specific lexicon, the panel generated common language to describe the sensory attributes of the products.

The SkinSensory data demonstrated that Wipe A was thicker than Wipe B. There was less residue from Wipe A and it was water-like, while Wipe B had more residue that was oily. Wipe A required nearly 50% more swipes than Wipe B to remove the makeup.

“The differences are fairly pronounced,” said Donna Baughn, a sensory panel leader at 21st Sensory, describing the results of the evaluation. Baughn is a project leader facilitating sensory panelists, who after a hundred hours of training, have been turned into “measuring instruments.” The major benefit of using human instruments is their ability to describe and measure product experiences that consumers are unable to articulate.

For the consumer test, the women recruited used makeup, including foundation, daily. They were asked to rate the two facial wipes and answer questions using both the Hedonic and JAR scales. The Hedonic scale measures how much an individual likes a product. The scale used was the traditional nine-point scaled anchored with responses ranging from extreme like to extreme dislike. The JAR—or “just about right” scale—measures the degree of liking of an attribute in consumer terms. By numbering the responses in both the Hedonic and JAR scale questions, statistical data can be generated on the consumer responses.

After using both products, the consumers were asked which facial wipe they preferred. In this study, there was a 2-to1 preference for Wipe A.

The SkinSensory data provides objective measures of the sensitivity and range of what consumers like or dislike. For example, Wipe A was measured by the descriptive panel as a 9 in wetness on an anchored 0-to-10 scale while Wipe B was a 7.5. The consumers rated facial Wipe B as too dry. In its research, SkinSensory found that the preferred wetness of wipes is product and usage specific. For example, an earlier study on baby wipes demonstrated that SkinSensory wetness scores on preferred baby wipes are in the 6 to 7.5 range.

These studies give those in the wipes industry another research and marketing tool, making specific appeals to consumers based on preferences in feel and performance. SkinSensory testing provides consumer insight, guidance for formulators and quality control criteria. A descriptive sensory profile is also a very helpful selling tool as it gives an unbiased view of the product, which builds confidence and minimizes risk.

“The ability to correlate the descriptive study data and consumer data is critical,” said Baughn. “Understanding what’s important to the consumer can also shed light into areas that need to be addressed. We conduct ‘drivers of liking’ studies in which 15 to 20 competitor products and prototypes are tested by both consumers and a SkinSensory panel. The resulting data analysis map provides a clear multidimensional picture of what consumers like and dislike and the associated range of SkinSensory scores.

“Once the consumer’s ‘drivers of liking’ have been identified, formulators can go back to the bench to tweak the product. The product can be altered and brought back to the descriptive panel that will be able to determine (in around two hours) whether these parameters have been achieved. This saves the considerable time and cost of conducting multiple consumer tests while trying to get the formulation correct.”

Contributed by Lauri Rottmayer and Kathleen Pillsbury Rutledge, 21st Sensory, Inc.

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