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Acne: What Consumers Want

Contact Author Jennifer Stansbury, The Benchmarking Company
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In Part 2, we take a deeper look at the skin care products and brands consumers use and trust to help address acne

In Part 2, we take a deeper look at the skin care products and brands consumers use and trust to help address acne

In part 1 of our 2-part series, we explored the consumer’s relationship with acne, how long acne has been a concern, where on her face and body she struggles with acne, and what products she uses to address this pesky problem (see sidebar). Data was based on responses from more than 4,000 U.S. female beauty consumers. Now, in Part 2, leveraging insights from that same pool of respondents, we take a deeper look at the skin care products and brands consumers use and trust to help her address acne, how much she’s spending on these products, what she likes/dislikes about her favorite acne treatments, her thoughts on acne ingredients and treatments, and more.

Her Relationship With Acne

Although it’s easy to assume that having acne might automatically equal a negative impact on a consumer’s lifestyle, only 56% of consumers say that having acne has affected their social life negatively (such as cancelling plans, etc.); the other 44% saw no impact. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t crucial to acne sufferers that their acne is healed and under control because it is; 69% say it’s extremely important to control their acne, and ensuring a clear complexion is the number-one reason consumers attempt to treat their acne at all. Boosting self-confidence, looking their best/more attractive, and preventing or treating acne scarring are also top-cited reasons for treating acne.

While consumers do seem to have a love/hate relationship with acne—and, definitely, acute acne sufferers might view acne as the original skin care villain—it turns out that most consumers don’t necessarily see acne as the enemy.

Mixed Results from Current Treatments

Although 66% of consumers rate their happiness with their skin care regimen between a three and four (on a five-point scale, with five being extremely happy), 74% indicate that the acne treatments they are currently using only somewhat work for them, with only 14% saying their products always work. Most consumers use a plethora of different acne-specific products to help keep their skin clear of the telltale signs of breakouts (T-1).

Willing to Spend More

Across the board, most consumers are spending modestly on acne-specific products. More than half of all consumers spend between $6 and $15 on acne-specific facial cleansers, toners, sunscreens, acne patches/dots, pore strips, clay or gel masks, spot treatments, and body washes/acne treatments for the whole body (T-2). However, 95% agree they’d be willing to spend more for an acne-specific regimen (or product) that really worked for them.

Her Product Mix

Out of her entire arsenal of skin care that she uses on a regular basis, 76% of consumers say that up to half of those products are acne-specific or created with the intention of treating breakouts in particular. Although 57% use multiple acne products, they don’t use products designed to work together or necessarily sold by the same brand/company.

Only 12% of consumers indicate they use an acne care regimen, with products in a three-step system for example, that are designed to work together or sold by the same brand. On a brand note, favorite acne brands mentioned include: Neutrogena (43%), Clean & Clear (36%), Biore (33%), Clearasil (25%), Cetaphil (24%), Aveeno (22%), CeraVe (21%) and that old standby Noxzema (20%).

Acne Product Likes and Dislikes

When on the hunt for new acne products, consumers really rely on other consumers to help them make purchasing decisions, and rank affordability (67%), consumer claims and product reviews (52%), ingredients (46%), percentage/strength of active ingredients (37%), and word-of-mouth recommendations (33%) among their top factors when shopping for new acne products. Other nice-to-haves include: natural ingredients (26%), doctor recommendations (24%), targeted age of products (tweens/teens, etc.; 21%) and, finally, a one-product-does-it-all offering (21%).

What doesn’t she love about her favorite acne products? In two words: slow results. Fifty-eight percent of all consumers say a product not getting rid of acne quickly/immediately is their top complaint/concern about acne products, followed by too expensive (53%); not effective at preventing reoccurrence of outbreaks (51%); too drying on the skin (46%); doesn’t prevent or treat scars associated with acne (40%); too harsh on the skin (36%); just takes too long to work (33%); and, finally, doesn’t conceal the appearance of redness or bumps (30%).

Slow to Experiment

It’s possible that because many acne consumers repeatedly struggle with breakouts and are drawn to the same products or ingredients that worked for them in the past (T-3), they are fairly tepid about trying new ingredients to treat their blemishes. Most consumers indicate they haven’t tried many of the newer actives being used to help clear up congested skin.

For the full article, check out Global Cosmetic Industry's November 2020 digital magazine.

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