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Cracking the Mystery of Brand Loyalty

October 1, 2007

Cracking the Mystery of Brand Loyalty


Cracking the Mystery of Brand Loyalty  

Unlocking the attributes that keep a woman faithful to her skin care products.  

By Joanna Cosgrove
Online Editor

Women can be pretty fickle when it comes to staying true to one skin care brand. According to The Benchmarking Company’s latest Pink Report™, Survival of the Prettiest: Face and Body Skin Care, while 75 percent of women surveyed have a favorite facial skin care brand and 69 percent have a favorite bath & body skin care brand, only 59 percent of women admit they are loyal to their facial skin care brand, and only 45 percent consider themselves loyal to their bath & body skin care brand. But there are specific factors that will cement a woman’s devotion – and others that will repel it.

Alisa Marie Beyer, CEO, The Benchmarking Company, Washington, DC, said some of the primary triggers that motivate women to try new beauty products include sampling, if a different brand was more affordable, if the product really did what it promised, if it solved a new problem area that she has, and if there were promotional packages, coupons or discounts. “Interestingly, the older a woman is, the more likely she is to be swayed to try a new skin care brand if the brand featured advertisements that showed women her own age looking great because they used the product (28 percent of women over 50 years old, and 23 percent of women 40-49 felt this way, compared to ten percent of 30-39 year olds and only six percent of women 18-29),” she said.

After a woman buys a product, then next challenge is earning her repeat business. There are thousands of skin care brands available in the U.S. and just 31 percent of women stick to the same facial skin care brand in a twelve month period. “Women are curious to find the next big skin care product,” commented Ms. Beyer. “While 75 percent of women surveyed have a favorite facial skin care brand and 69 percent have a favorite bath & body skin care brand, only 59 percent of women admit they are loyal to their facial skin care brand. Only 45 percent consider themselves loyal to their bath & body skin care brand.”

Brand trust means different things to different women. For younger women, product efficacy, the use of natural ingredients and credible dermatological backing are imperative. For older women, corporate reputation and a brand that’s been around for a long time hold weight as well. The report also revealed that women in their forties are also more compelled to trust a brand that places ads showing women their own age looking good.

“To maintain a solid place in her heart, brand managers should evaluate the use of applicable marketing messages she likes to hear most, such as reduces wrinkles, hypoallergenic, natural/organic/pure ingredients, and works with her own body chemistry. Women rated these terms rated most highly in the survey.” advised Ms. Beyer. “To woo her from her current brand, consider offering product samples and know that she’d be willing to pay more for products that produce better results over time (65 percent) are well-researched (42 percent) and contain natural/organic ingredients (37 percent) much more than products with a pretty package (four percent).”

Conversely, the study also identified triggers that repelled consumers from purchasing certain skin care brands. “In our skin care survey, we asked women why they switched brands (as opposed to remaining loyal to them).  ‘I just wanted to try something new’ was cited as the number one reason (at 33 percent) why women switch brands, 16 percent higher as a reason for switching than the fact that their usual brand no longer worked for them,” Ms. Beyer explained. “A full 16 percent of women aged 18-29 switch brands purely out of boredom. The older women are, the more apt they are to change brands due to age-related reasons. A steady 24 percent of all women said they switched brands because they were no longer experiencing the benefits the skin care brand promised.”

Getting What They Pay For

One of the most interesting points uncovered by this most recent Pink Report was that although priced ranked as an important part of a consumer’s buying decision, the top brands she claimed she could not afford were also on her list of regular buys.

“Women don’t let a little thing like price get in the way of them buying skin care products that actually work,” said Ms. Beyer. “According to industry sources, prestige skin care products posted growth of one percent overall in 2006 totaling $2.2 billion. Higher-priced products selling for $70 and up fueled that category. In 2006, premium-priced face products of $70 and above brought in $475 million, up from $382 million in 2005. With women of all ages believing that a youthful appearance is priceless, brand managers of prestige lines have an enormous opportunity to sway consumers their way.”

According to the report, 36 percent of women surveyed actively sought proof that prestige skin care lines are worth the expense and thirty percent didn’t understand what made prestige products unique, while the remaining third didn’t know enough about them to make a decision. “The most affluent group surveyed, those ages 50 and up, have the smallest gap between a feeling that a brand is too expensive and needing to hear proof that prestige skin care brands are worth it. A full 78 percent of all women surveyed would also pay from five percent to more than 20 percent more for their facial skin care brands if they had to,” said Ms. Beyer, who added “Better results over time” represented the number one aspect of a facial skin care product a consumer was willing to pay more for. “The takeaway we heard from these results is that she’s ready to try prestige and in large part is already buying prestige. Those who aren’t could be swayed –they just need to hear the reasons why they should.”

Surprising Revelations

In addition to shedding light on skin care brand purchase and retention drivers, this Pink Report also exposed some interesting demographic motivation shifts.

For starters, more than 33 percent of women aged 18-29 and 55 percent of women 30-30 years old already buy facial skin care products for their anti-aging properties. Twenty-five percent of women ages 18-29 and 46 percent of those in their thirties listed “makes me look younger” as a key motivator in buying facial skin care products. In fact, younger women would consider procedures such as microdermabrasion (44 percent 18-29; 48 percent 30-39), chemical peels (30 percent, 18-29; 29 percent, 30-39) and laser procedures (18 percent, 18-29; 23 percent, 30-39) to keep them looking young, far more than their older counterparts.

Younger women also demanded product credibility by a dermatologist or a medical professional more than other age groups. Thirty-five percent of the 18-29’s considered a product that was “recommended by a dermatologist” to carry more importance. Brand marketing verbiage, such as “dermatological,” ranked high on her scale as skin care terminology that is appealing at 48 percent for 18-29’s and 39 percent for women in their thirties.

Anti-aging concerns ranked high on the list of skin care concerns for women 18-39, who acknowledged that they are already fully aware of the need for products with a high SPF. Among younger women who said they didn’t currently buy anti-aging skin care products, 38 percent of those aged 18-39 said they would in the future.

A second interesting revelation revolved around the shift away from department stores and toward superstores, the Internet, and even television infomercials for skin care products purchases. “Women in all age groups are turning to the Internet for beauty research, product reviews and purchasing as it has jumped seven percent on her list of beauty buying locations from just last year,” said Ms. Beyer. “Women are also purchasing more directly from television, with the popularity of Proactiv and other DRTV-based brands as proof.

“Women surveyed also report a shift away from beauty specialty stores such as Sephora and Ulta for purchasing their bath and body skin care products, with the category of ‘beauty specialty stores’ decreasing two percent for facial skin care purchasing and 14 percent from bath and body skin care purchasing in just one year,” she continued. “Women are also buying fewer skin care products from direct sales organizations, such as Mary Kay or Avon, with our data showing an 11 percent drop in both facial skin and bath and body skin care sales in the past year.”

For more information about Survival of the Prettiest: Face and Body Skin Care Pink Report, please contact The Benchmarking Company at 202-625-4315 or send an email to

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