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The Marketing Message: Adapting to Changing Trends

October 8, 2018

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Manufacturers and formulators of personal care products have become adept at identifying and utilizing alternate technology in response to regulatory changes, environmental concerns or to stay abreast with shifting consumer tastes. The objective is always to make the change without compromising product integrity, performance or efficacy.

Marketers in the personal care industry are increasingly confronted with similar challenges. They must often craft a message to convincingly communicate a product’s benefit that aligns with emerging societal trends.

The ‘free-from’ movement is a good example. Marketers adjusted the message to reflect formulation changes that were implemented to address consumer’s concerns about certain raw materials. Sulfate-free, paraben-free, silicone-free are but a few examples of claims that emerged from this environment.

There are, however, developing trends that are requiring marketers to rethink the way they communicate. Language that has long been accepted and embedded in the consumer psyche must now be replaced by equally credible claims.

Take for example Allure magazine’s 2017 announcement that they would no longer use the term ‘anti-aging’, citing the negative connotations associated with the prefix ‘anti’. It is left to be seen if this position takes root in the industry. If it does, a shift of this magnitude would present a major challenge to marketers, given that ‘anti-aging’ is currently a descriptor for an entire category of products.

The product benefits traditionally associated with this category include claims such as, ‘effectively reduce lines and wrinkles’, ‘diminishes crow’s feet’ and ‘evens skin tone’. While these technologies will continue to be the basis of support going forward, how the product is ultimately described to the consumer will require creativity – if marketers elect to abandon the use of the term ‘anti-aging’.

Some have already begun testing the waters with new language, by exhorting the consumer, for example, to “embrace your age”. ‘Healthy aging’ is also beginning to creep into the personal care marketing vernacular.

Another developing trend appears to be an outgrowth of the ‘naturals’ and ‘free-from’ movements. The perception that products that are ‘natural’ or ‘naturally derived’ are better for you has driven the growth of the ‘naturals/organic’ segment in recent years. This, combined with the ubiquitous messages about the importance of healthy living, has led to a more holistic approach to wellness, which now includes personal care products. As a result, the positioning of products under the ‘wellness’ umbrella is coming into vogue.

Not only is there an interest in pursuing wellness of body, wellness of the planet is also becoming increasingly important to environmentally conscious consumers. They demand that eco-friendly products contain ingredients that are not only natural or organic but sustainably grown. There is also the expectation that packaging will also be sustainable.

These consumer needs must be met at all stages of the product development process. Consider these actions that must be taken along the supply chain:

  • Certify that raw materials have been sustainably grown
  • Identify appropriate compliant packaging
  • Adjust label copy language to communicate that a product will not only deliver the expected benefit but also reflect and satisfy environmental concerns.

Getting a product to market that meets all consumer expectations will always have its challenges. However, this would also always be a fulfilling experience. It is important that everyone involved in the process stay attuned to the consumer and the marketing environment, in order to respond convincingly, retain the consumer’s trust and remain competitive.