Five strange habits of consumers you’re never going to change

Five strange personal care consumer habits

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We use personal care products every day, and trial new products as we need or hear about them. What you may not realise is there are some interesting consumer habits somehow hard-wired into our brains that even the most seasoned Cosmetic Chemist finds hard to break when selecting a new product.

Here are ‘Five Strange Habits of Consumers You’re Never Going to Change’, so you really need to create your product formulations to meet these needs instead! 

Consumers will always smell a product

Smelling a product is the first consumer habit that will ALWAYS occur when they are exploring or considering a new purchase. They also need to like the way it smells (even if it has no aroma) every time they use it, to ensure ongoing satisfaction.

Whether it is smelling the product from the jar or bottle at the point of sale or on first application, consumers will always make judgements about the product based on the way it smells – so make sure the aroma suits your target market.

Even if the product claims ‘fragrance free’ a consumer will still smell it to check that it is!

High foam = high performance

The foam created by a cleansing product is not a true indication of how well it will clean, but consumers will equate a lot of bubbles with good performance.

Technically, you don’t need copious amounts of foam to provide a good clean, but don’t even bother trying to explain this to a consumer because they will always look for excess foam as a mark of quality in a foaming product. They will also make judgements about the foam profile depending on the type of product it is.

For example, a ‘quality’ facial product should have a dense, creamy foam; while a ‘salon’ shampoo should have large, cushiony bubbles. You can manipulate the bubbles created from hand and body products to alter your consumer’s perception too: they could be large and open (standard cleansing) or a more cushiony foam (to create the perception of more ‘caring’).

While it is obviously important to make sure the product actually performs the way it needs to and suits the hair/body application, you need to make sure the foam profile created suits their expectations and that there’s lots of it.

It’s just one of those strange consumer habits that is hard wired into us that equates the type and volume of foam with performance and mildness whether it is actually a true reflection on product performance or not!

Make sure the foam profile suits your product claims and target market expectations – and of course, make sure there are LOTS of bubbles to keep your consumer happy.

Viscosity = Richness

Another perception that you won’t change is that a viscous product will be more moisturising/hydrating. Viscosity is NOT actually a true indication of how moisturising a product will be, but the thicker it appears to be in a jar, the more hydrating a consumer will believe the product to be.

This also applies to hair conditioning products – if you’re creating a conditioner for dry or damaged hair, make sure the product is a viscous cream and if it’s meant to be a treatment, make it even more viscous again! In reality, viscosity is affected more by the choice and amount of high melting point waxy emulsifier that is used, which doesn’t necessarily equate to the true hydration, moisturisation or conditioning performance of the product.

Technically, you could have a milk emulsion using liquid emulsifiers, lots of humectant and stabilised lipids be equal to or more moisturising than a butter like cream; but the consumer is going to make instant judgements about the potentially moisturising performance of a product by its viscosity in the packaging.

The big tip here – the more hydrating you want a consumer to think a product is, the more viscous you need to make it!

Consumers will pay more for a leave on product

This is actually a formulating conundrum: wash off products are usually packed in larger containers yet contain more functional ingredients and cost more to produce (per kilo) than standard leave on products, which tend to be in much smaller containers with a higher water content, cheaper to produce (per kilo) and have a higher achievable retail price.

Yet, a consumer somehow doesn’t value a product they are going to wash off shortly after application as much as one they can apply and leave on all day.

This of course makes it harder to formulate cost effective yet high performing wash off products; but as a formulator, it’s just one of those challenges and consumer expectations you need to achieve!

Consumers will always over expect

One of the top reasons consumers change their product use is when they are looking for ‘more’ ​performance from their product.

Whether it is seeking better anti-ageing performance, better whitening performance or another element, they’ll change their product use if they’re not happy ‘enough’ with the current product they are using or think a competitor may have a product that works better.

BUT BEWARE! This is not an opportunity to exaggerate your claims in the hope of increased product sales… because a consumer that starts using a product that over promises and under delivers will revert back to their original product faster than it took to convert them!

Even worse, if they feel like they have been tricked or lied to by a company because a product doesn’t perform the way they were promised, they may tell their friends and stop using other products from that brand as well.

The key point here is to ensure your product performs as you promise it will – a consumer will always look for ‘more’​ than you’re promising but don’t overpromise to begin with!

Consumers sure are a tricky bunch to please, and their habits and expectations can make formulating an interesting challenge. There is a lot more to creating a truly successful product than just achieving the strange habits listed here but if you can’t sign off on these, you won’t be achieving their basic, while strange, expectations.

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