Saturday, November 10, 2012

Cosmetics And Marketing

This year alone has seen its fair share of hard times for people. We all need basic cosmetics for hygiene and others sometimes just to feel good, or to enhance our appearance.

I do not understand how incredibly expensive shampoos stay on the market or those marketed primarily for their fragrance. I do understand the marketing strategies for both. One appeals to the false concept some consumers believe regarding cosmetics, that "You get what you pay for." The other appeals to the consumer who thinks all such products are basically the same and fragrance can be very appealing and mean freshness and more. Great marketing to me is humourous, informative but not outrageously so and showcases a product well.

Price nor fragrance determines cosmetic product value or performance. Formulation is the key factor.

The truth is that if marketing really reflected what many cosmetic products were capable of doing, no one would buy them. It is not that the products are bad. It is because other, less expensive products can work just as well and some can work much better.

Updated November 18, 2012
In the United States, the FDA is paying attention and is taking strong actions in response to improper cosmetic marketing claims. A number of claims focus on hair restoration and growth. That means the product falls under the classification of a drug and requires stringent approval under drug regulations and for statements made on labelling, paper and online. Canada has marketing regulations and claims restrictions too, as do other countries. From emails on the topic I receive, the problem is worldwide these days. Government regulations, marketing restrictions and the recent actions taken, reveal the increasing need to protect consumers from such claims. Here is an article on cosmetic marketing problems from within the cosmetic industry.

I admire the entrepreneurial spirit. I am appalled by poorly made, badly or not at all preserved products sold online and elsewhere, just to make a quick dollar at the expense in both cases, of the consumer. Products need to be safe and well made, especially with cosmetics, which many people take for granted are so, if they appear to contain more natural ingredients than otherwise. Not true. It depends on what natural ingredients are used and what they actually contribute to a formulation, other than marketing appeal.

It is tough surviving in poor economic times, while at the same time facing efforts by cosmetic companies to "seduce" consumers to spend hard earned money on products, that at best may do the job but not that well. This is an article from 2009. I got an empathetic chuckle reading about the dermatologist who purchased that expensive cream, only to discover that it did not live up to its marketing claims for him.

While I have never spent that amount of money on a cosmetic and will not, I remember in my early teens waiting "breathlessly" for a hair texturizing or styling cream, I had seen marketed on television and in magazines, become available to me. When my local pharmacy finally got it in stock and I bought it with excited anticipation, the pharmacist warned me that it was not a revolutionary product. He was right! In fact, it added nothing of note to the appearance of my hair.

I prefer to read labels and research ingredients before buying cosmetic products these days and scour reviews, reading the negative ones first, to see what kinds of problems people have had, if any. The latest marketing strategy for many kinds of products, involves paying people for positive and negative reviews posted on forums and other websites. Payment can be made in the form of free goods and discounts, or money. While that may or may not be legitimate, I am appalled by it too. I have seen online job listings for posting positive reviews, when I researched the topic.

I like to understand how an ingredient works and see if it can "play outside the box" or be used differently or on its own. It may if it is one that has a good, sound, reputable history. However, first and foremost to me is it safe to use alternative ways? Then are there adverse effects if it is used in certain proportions, or from methods of use? Finally is it economical and easily available to purchase?