21 May 2021 --- According to the latest data from the Innova Beauty and Personal Care Survey 2020, in the eyes of the consumer, there appears to be a connection between product positioning and how safe a product is considered for the skin. We explore what these consumer responses reveal about the power of premium beauty products and the urgency for accurate scientific communication to prevail.
As part of the Innova Beauty and Personal Care 2020 Survey, an average of 1,000 consumers in 11 different countries, including China, the US, Brazil, the UK, Germany and South Korea were asked what type of products are associated with the attribute of being safe for the skin.
Globally, on average, around half of consumers reported that premium products were safe for the skin, while a similar proportion believed the same could be said for masstige products, before slumping to a third for mass products. This suggests there is a perception that how far beauty and personal care (BPC) shoppers have to delve into their pockets relates to the safety of said BPC products. Therefore, it can be inferred that consumers seeking safety and/scientific credibility may head to the prestige brands and premium products.
Spend for science and safety?
Click to EnlargeOne third of consumers would spend more on products backed by scientific claims, the Innova Beauty and Personal Care 2020 Survey reveals.However, not all skin care shoppers may feel this way. The largest proportion of consumers ticked the neutral box when asked if they are prepared to spend more on skin care products that are backed by scientific claims. That said, the next biggest group of consumers in agreement came from a third of shoppers who said they were prepared to spend more. Only a small percentage of respondents said they strongly disagreed with spending more on products backed by science.
These statistics raise several important questions and reveal glaring concerns within our BPC industry. Do consumers feel they are expected to pay more for product safety? Is there a perception that safety from our BPC products is a privilege? Should consumers have to pay more for premium products in order to feel safe? And do they? It’s a slippery slope if this is the case. And one that the BPC industry as a whole needs to address.
When asked how strongly BPC consumers agreed with the statement: “Scientific claims on personal care packaging are meaningless”, the largest collective consumer response came from 40% of global respondents who answered ‘neutral.’
Interestingly, nearly a quarter of those surveyed said they disagreed and a similar number agreed that scientific claims have no meaning. Further, a much smaller number of consumers strongly agreed with the statement and a similar number of respondents strongly disagreeing In an almost identical split in consumer response to the relationship between the meaning of science in BPC, only one thing is clear: it is not clear.
Quality of claims
Click to EnlargeScience transparency is vital for gaining consumer confidence.When it comes to buying facial skin care products, the Innova Beauty and Personal Care Survey 2020 also set out to explore quality claims, which it details as those that communicate the safety and sensitivity of a BPC product and whether it has been dermatologically-tested. Here, far more consumers highlighted the importance of quality claims present on product packaging when buying facial skin care products. Globally, more than one third of consumers stated these were very important and nearly a quarter said these were extremely important.
Keen to find out whether this consumer perception of quality is reflected in the wider beauty space, Innova delved into the relationship between quality claims and makeup items as part of its industry survey. Consumers were once again asked how important quality claims, such as safety, sensitivity and dermatologically-tested were when purchasing makeup. In total, similarly, one third said these quality claims were very important and 21% said they were extremely important.
Furthermore, most consumers revealed once again their neutral responses to how they felt in response to the statement: “I do not pay attention to claims made by skin care brands”. In a similar vein to how consumers perceive scientific claims on personal care packaging as meaningless, nearly a quarter of global consumers said they agreed that they don’t pay attention to claims, while slightly fewer said they disagreed. Around one in ten of global consumers strongly agreed and a similar number strongly disagreed. Consumer responses vary considerably. Brands can clear up any confusion and uncertainty that is present by providing clarity on claims and how these demonstrate credibility through communicating science and trust.
Perhaps claims in their widest senses are simply too generic. Perhaps greenwashing has watered down the reputation of claims and consumers no longer know what to believe. That may well be the case as further insights from the industry survey reveals that 40% of global consumers agree that it is important to them that skin care products are dermatologically tested.
Rather than taking a neutral stance, which only a quarter of consumers did in response to this question, the majority of consumers affirmed the importance of dermatologically-tested skin care items. Not only did 40% agree with this statement, but a further a quarter of respondents strongly agreed with it. Dermatologically tested, a specific claim, is widely recognized as meaning dermatologists have analyzed how the skin reacts to the products and their ingredients.
For brands looking to attract consumers with credible scientifically-backed science, transparency is vital and specificity may well be the key to generating trust and confidence in the products consumers choose—regardless of whether they are premium, masstige or mass.
By Natasha Spencer-Jolliffe, BPC Insights Senior Journalist