I am not revealing anything outrageous by saying that the internet has changed the way companies market products, but it needs to be harnessed and taken on board by cosmetics firms, as advertising rules have changed and consumers are searching for much more product and brand information before making a beauty purchase.
Research from Diagonal Reports shows that for consumers the internet is now primary, particularly regarding reach, as it is used by most consumers and is the place to go for beauty news, information, and opinion.
“Quite literally, the consumer now sees the beauty world through screens — and for young consumers the screen is the online,” lead analyst Jacqueline Clarke tells CosmeticsDesign-Europe.com.
Beauty marketing transformed
Clarke explains that the internet has changed the role of beauty marketers in almost every way.
“[It’s] clichéd but true. There is no end to the changes. The internet changes marketing in terms of reach, of timing, control of the message, even which brands companies would define as their competitors, price comparisons, geographies...” she says.
Beauty marketing has been transformed because advertising claims have less influence with beauty buyers, according to Diagonal, and this has changed the situation from the one that marketers and advertisers had become accustomed – so they must respond.
It used to be relatively easy for beauty brands to reach and influence consumers through the top beauty magazines or TV channels. However, the internet has taken the power away from the select few and now made the people the media, meaning that they can still reach the consumer but influencing them has become more compex.
“Reach is the easy bit. Influencing the buying decision is harder,” continues Clarke. “A big change we see is that in legacy marketing it was the brands that TOLD consumers their brand story, but online the consumer IS the story.”
“Online marketing practices need to be in sync with consumers’ online behaviour. Beauty consumers don't go online to look at beauty marketing. Consumers' online mode is information. They want to know what's out there, what's new, where is it sold, what's the price, the best offers?”
Big changes, take note
When it comes to buying products, hair and skin care consumers, being able to relate to brands and products, word of mouth, and proof are the most important things.
In what is a seismic change in beauty marketing, today's buyers must receive proof of product efficacy, and how it can transform appearance. The most meaningful examples of this are the 'before' and 'after' photographs of real women.
Nowadays consumers are also put off by unrealistic images, with most not trusting photoshopped pictures as the level of perfection is unattainable.
There is also more trust put into consumers’ opinions of products rather than what is told to them by brands.
“Consumers can regard the online as a global archive of the opinions and the experiences of other consumers,” adds Clarke.
“Those opinions are more valued than marketing because they are not paid for. Consumers most dislike paid for marketing that masquerades as honest brokers.”