Beauty is big business, and the beauty and personal care industries saw $426 billion in sales in 2011, according to The Beauty Company. Effective marketing can mean the difference between everyone's new go-to product and a creation that never makes it big. You'll have to tailor your marketing techniques to your business's needs and the specific product you're advertising, but the beauty industry has established some tried-and-true -- and occasionally controversial -- marketing strategies.
Self-Esteem and Body Image
Sociologist Jean Kilbourne emphasizes in her book, "Can't Buy My Love," that many beauty industry persuasion tactics rely on the low self-esteem of consumers -- particularly women. An advertisement might show an image of an aging woman next to a young and beautiful woman, then emphasize that women who use the product in question are less likely to look aged or unattractive. Playing on well-known insecurities, such as weight, age, the ability to attract the opposite sex or insecurities about career achievements, can be effective.
These marketing techniques are controversial, and some companies have attempted to stem the tide of poor self-esteem. Dove's Real Beauty campaign, for example, relies on marketing techniques that oppose unrealistic images of beauty and that encourage high self-esteem.
Appeals to Luxury and Lifestyle
People often use beauty products to achieve a goal. A woman might try a new lipstick to attract a date or purchase an understated perfume to wear to a job interview. Beauty advertisements frequently appeal to luxurious lifestyles and aspirations to attract business. For example, a high-end lipstick might show an image of a woman nailing a job interview, then add a tagline emphasizing that the lipstick gave the woman confidence. A luxury perfume might rely on images of tropical vacations or romance, implying that the perfume will help the customer achieve a luxurious lifestyle.
Social marketing relies on customers to attract new customers and encourages consumers to engage with others about their product experiences. Beauty blogs and review sites, for example, may allow cosmetic companies to advertise, and some beauty companies encourage customers to post reviews. They might even give free samples to beauty bloggers. Facebook and Twitter can also help attract new customers, particularly when businesses post about new products, by offering discounts or encouraging customers to offer tips for using various products.
Appeals to Science and Effects
People buy beauty products because they hope they will work, so pointing to the effectiveness of a product is a clear way to win customers. Businesses might post before and after images using real people. Alternatively, some businesses use appeals to science. They might cite statistics indicating a product's effectiveness, or list scientific-sounding ingredients. Beauty companies frequently make appeals to "revolutionary" or "proprietary" technology to set their products apart.
- Dove: The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty
- Can't Buy My Love; Jean Kilbourne
- ScienceDaily: How Do Beauty Product Advertisements Affect Consumer Self Esteem and Purchasing?
- The New York Times: Flattery Will Get an Ad Nowhere
- Luxury Daily: Michael Kors Targets Aspirational Consumers With Social Media for New Beauty Line
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.