Emotions Behind Why Women Chose Certain Cosmetics Brands

Women have been using cosmetics since the dawn of human history for enhancing their attractiveness. Attractive people are generally considered to have positive characteristics such as intelligence, social acceptance and professional success. This study attempted to analyze the perspectives of female consumers on cosmetic brands. The study shows that women buy cosmetics mainly for emotional reasons. Using cosmetics helps them achieve relief from the guilt of not taking care of themselves. The study also reviewed the advertising strategies adopted by cosmetic companies that target this aspect of women.

The use of cosmetics to improve one’s image is being sought to enhance confidence levels, social acceptance and professional success. There have been numerous studies on the psychological aspects of cosmetics use and the factors responsible for women’s attraction to a particular brand. It is known that emotional and utility aspects are responsible for satisfaction from a brand. This study tried to determine the factors that play a major role in women’s decisions in their choice of cosmetics. The preference for a particular cosmetic brand is linked to factors such as the packaging design of the product, its sensorial experiences (smell, feeling of smoothness or coolness) and how effective it appears when compared to other brands.

* This study was conducted on 355 women aged between 18 and 60 years.
* The cosmetic products with long-term effects such as anti-aging, body-firming and shaping creams were focused upon.
* All participants were interviewed and asked to rate their perception of the utility and emotional benefits of the various cosmetics they used, on a 5-point scale.
* Their responses on the cosmetics’ perceived benefits, packaging, perfume and emotional experiences such as the perception of being sexually attractive, being socially acceptable and achievement of success in professional life were recorded.

Results/Key findings
* Dissatisfaction from one’s self-image was found to be the strongest factor in influencing women’s attraction to cosmetics. This is followed by sexual attraction, perceived tangible benefits, perfume and lastly, success in social interaction.
* The design and packaging of the cosmetic product had a positive impact on the perceived utility of the product.
* Advertising the product using very beautiful models evoked a feeling of dissatisfaction and the realization of being ugly when compared to them. Cosmetic brands, which made women feel that they can overcome this dissatisfaction by using their product, were preferred by women.

Next steps/Shortcomings
The strategies of making women feel dissatisfied with themselves and lowering their self-esteem by using exceptionally beautiful models is highly questionable from an ethical point of view. The study points out the need to eliminate these negative emotions and to relieve women from the worry of looking good as one of their main motivations for buying cosmetics.

Among utility and emotional factors, the latter have a greater impact on women’s preference of a cosmetic brand. This study points out that the success of a cosmetic brand depends on whether it succeeds in making women overcome the worry and guilt of not taking care of themselves by using the product being advertised. Thus, for creating a brand value, it is important for the cosmetic marketing companies to make women feel dissatisfied by advertising the product with beautiful models. As this strategy is not ethical, some of the cosmetic brands such as Unilever represent only above average looking models in their advertisements. This makes the initial dissatisfaction weaker but still sends the message that women have to use them for becoming beautiful.

For More Information:
Women Satisfaction with Cosmetic Brands: The Role of Dissatisfaction and Hedonic Brand Benefits
Publication Journal: African Journal of Business Management, February 2011
By Vanessa Apaolaza-Ibanez; Patrick Hartmann; University of the Basque Country, Spain

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