Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Getting Past The Buzzwords In Cosmetic Marketing

A growing number of marketers believe that consumers need buzzwords, that we respond to and love them. In my experience, after having researched quite a few that had no meaning for me regarding cosmetics, buzzwords are simply made-up, or often misapplied.

The idea of a "detox" shampoo, for example, may stop you in the shampoo isle, which is the idea and encourage you to try the product, with you thinking "Here is something new!" Well, shampoo is shampoo in that, in spite of any ingredients you do not want being absent, or you do want being present, it is designed to clean your hair and scalp.

Fragrance? That is no reason to buy a cosmetic to me, other than ones like body spray, cologne, or perfume. If a product smells bad, that is a reason to avoid it. Buying a product based solely on it smelling wonderful? Be careful of what you wish for, unless the product can deliver on what it has been formulated to do.

When any other kind of cosmetic product is marketed mostly for its fragrance that is telling me, that the marketing team was limited by actual product performance. This is most evident in often unintentionally hilarious, theme-based but irrelevant, sometimes not properly licensed, print, TV, or online advertising. A fanciful theme cannot make up for needed results, no matter how nice a product may smell. You can find yourself "paying through the nose", when a product far less expensive can work much better.

The front of a shampoo bottle is carefully designed to pull you in visually with colours and text. The back of the bottle is usually where it gets interesting. There is more text which should tell you more specifically, how the shampoo can affect your hair. Is it deep cleansing? Is it formulated to help keep your expensive in some cases, new hair colour vibrant? Here is where you need to skip down to the real story, the ingredient list.

In spite of any product looking or sounding amazing, the ingredient lists tell you the truth, if you can read them correctly, in terms of how they actually work. Most ingredient lists today are regulated to be in descending order. Staying with shampoo, in any liquid one, the first and largest percentage ingredient is water. On some shampoo ingredient lists, the term "herbal infusion", or aloe vera juice, replaces the word water, listed first. Some shampoos do not list water at all, other than in the term "aqueous solution".

Herbal infusions in commercial cosmetics are herbal extracts in water. Aloe vera juice naturally contains water. A number of aloe vera juice vendors claim that extra water is added to aloe juice in many commercial products. Next come the cleanser(s) and with some herbal based shampoos, such an ingredient can appear in the middle of the list, which can mislead you.

That infusion or solution, with botanical ingredients often listed by Latin names in addition to, or instead of their common names, ahead of a cleanser is the water base, just drawn out. It does not mean that there is less of the cleansing ingredient(s), than would be found in another shampoo.

Multiple cleansers, some of which you may know and others that may need investigation, tell you more. If a product has multiple cleansers in it, it is highly likely that it is going to be stronger than one that has fewer of them. Many of those plant extracts are going to be coating your hair, likely causing build-up.

A basic shampoo does not necessarily have the edge on being mild. A good clarifying or extra strong shampoo has few ingredients, including cleansers. It is about the cleanser itself and the other ingredients.

The answer to this dilemma? More and more consumers are becoming product savvy. That entails reading reviews, which these days can be tainted by being bought and sold and researching ingredients, on reputable websites, like cosmeticsinfo.org. I know many people buy products in a hurry, as we are all busy these days. However, taking a bit more time to read a label and do the research can save you money and cause less frustration, like when a product does not work out to be what you had in mind.

The buzzwords? Research them too. They are often found questioned online because others have no idea what they mean either. You may often find: that a "revolutionary", or hyped natural ingredient in an expensive cosmetic product: is just a name given by a manufacturer's marketing team to an ingredient or combination of ingredients that upon investigation is nothing special, it has no safety history or history of working well, more scientific research needs to be done to duplicate previous results, or it is not all natural as claimed.

Do consumers really need or love buzzwords? No, not in my opinion. I do not need, love to read, or see nonsense about a product. Many marketers need and love buzzwords and fanciful ideas, to promote products that cannot be sold based on how well they can work. I need and love cosmetic products that are safe, work well and are not expensive. From the feedback I get through this blog, so do many other people.

There are straightforward marketing campaigns that do not circumvent a product's performance by not: concentrating mostly on its fragrance, hyping questionable ingredients natural or otherwise, or using fairy tale themes. They are unfortunately, increasingly harder to find. As consumers become more savvy about real cosmetic product performance, I have no doubt that will change and there will be more of them.