Consumer Behaviour - The Missing Piece of the Product Formulation Puzzle

The devil is in the detail when it comes to understanding consumer beauty preferences. Knowing how many steps are in Asian face cleansing or how Africans style their hair opens doors to some powerful growth opportunities.

July 2015

Our beauty research focuses on key markets which present powerful growth opportunities for the industry. We intensively track consumers in these markets as they are critical to the fortunes of hair and skincare companies which want to increase sales globally.

African haircare, and global facial skincare, exemplify two such markets. They are important due to the sheer numbers of buyers involved, the young populations which guarantee a strong consumer base for many years and/or buyers' per capita spending. These - many, many millions of hair and facial skincare – buyers want products which slot into their particular beauty regimes and deliver the outcomes they value.

A major opportunity for the industry is that these consumers overspend in terms of products and services bought. This level of overspending on beauty is a result of a number of cultural factors – the principal one being that a certain “look” is at a premium in ultra appearance conscious societies. Achieving the desired appearance demands a significant extra investment in money and time and effort.

The only commonality of these markets is that they are all different. Consumers conceptualise beauty in a different way to their counterparts in other regions and - in some cases - even to their direct predecessors. As a result, their behaviour (i.e., the daily and weekly hair and skincare rituals and practices) is poles apart from traditional or legacy beauty. Companies must tweak their product formulations according to these markets because consumers always prefer products customised for their own regimes.

In our global beauty reports, we present these hair and skincare regimes - the specific actions and steps which deliver the desired beauty outcomes. Our analysis is based on face to face interviews with selected beauty marketing channel experts in each country. All discussions are conducted in the expert's own language or dialect – more than 25 languages alone in just 10 African countries - to find out consumers' actual behaviour.

The interviews must be and are in depth because the devil – as always - is in the detail. What does skin cleansing entail in Japan? Why (two) cleansing steps? What is African hair styling? A difference between relaxing and straightening? It is the nuances of consumer behaviour which explain the reasons for product preferences. No assumptions can be made about product (e.g., liquid, treatment) categories, no definitions of beauty (e.g., a blemish) terms accepted at face value.

All these consumer behaviour findings and analysis are published in our global reports.