Cosmetics marketing now targets the senses over benefits

As we run out of new ways to talk about the benefits of skin care, the personal care industry is messaging on products’ sensory aspects

Sensory and aesthetic aspects of skin care are increasingly important to consumers as they are less and less inclined to purchase products with inadequate aesthetics regardless of proven efficacy. More importantly, experiencing the ‘wow’ factor creates commercially successful brands. P&G CEO AG Lafley famously stated that “People remember experiences... they don’t remember attributes or benefits” and P&G has been in the business of selling a “delightful experience” in skin care ever since. Before we go on to understanding the main factors that impact on skin care products creating a delightful experience, let’s look at how the senses involved in a skin care experience influence our brain.

Dr Katerina Steventon is a skin scientist and columnist with an experience of working at the interface of commercial, clinical and research healthcare sectors. Her research interests are skin health, appearance and ageing. She specialises in difficult-to-treat skin types and innovative perspectives on consumer needs in facial skin care

Smell, touch and vision can sense and discriminate the external environment but also ‘emote’ internally. Skin care products can visually impact on the condition of the skin, and sight is responsible for 80% of the information input into our brain. The skin is the largest – and a very sensitive – sensory organ, having 50 touch receptors for every square cm and about five million sensory cells overall. Touch is the first human sense; both skin and brain develop from ectoderm in the embryo. Touch represents communication with the environment as well as personal or social grooming. Touch can act as a conductor of emotion, sparking positive feelings that forge attachments and strengthen relationships, including relationships to oneself.

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