Consumers have been interested in anti-aging products ever since Cleopatra first bathed in donkey milk. The first FDA-approved wrinkle treatment launched in 1995. Now, consumers are driving a resurgence in interest in anti-aging cosmetics products.
Anti-Aging is Back in the Spotlight
Ten years ago, a cosmetics market expert told the Wall Street Journal that many women would buy anything with the label “anti-aging” on it. But things began to change, and in the 2010s, smaller beauty brands kick-started a trend of marketing anti-aging products using terms like “glowing” and “brightening”. This trend was driven by criticism of the term “anti-aging”, which many saw as a negative construct that shamed women.
Consumer Discussion within Cosmetics, August 2017 – July 2019
Now, the anti-aging market is coming full circle – and it’s the consumers that are driving the discussion. Glowing and brightening remain the two most common benefits mentioned in consumer discussions about cosmetics, but anti-aging and synonyms related to youth are making a comeback.
The appearance of the term “youthful look” in consumer discussions has grown more than 120% in the past 12 months, compared to 8% growth in the previous 12 months.
Consumer Discussion Surrounding ‘Youthful Look’ Over Time, August 2017 – July 2019
There were 25,000 posts related to anti-aging in the past year, accounting for 1.4% of all consumer discussions – a small, but growing percentage. Notably, 71% of consumer posts about anti-aging products were positive.
Consumer Discussion & Sentiment Around ‘Anti-Aging’’, August 2017 – July 2019
A Trend Without a Driving Cause
The interesting thing about this renewed consumer interest in anti-aging cosmetics products is that there’s no obvious driving force. There are no obvious key opinion leaders (KOLs), influencers, or brands driving this trend. About 8% of cosmetics product claims relate to anti-aging, but these are largely legacy products and not part of any recent marketing push.
Given the lack of a major catalyst, it can only be concluded that this is an organic trend being driven by consumers. It is a subtle development in that it still accounts for only a tiny proportion of all consumer discussions about cosmetics. But it is also a trend brands should pay attention to, given the sudden, rapid growth of the past 12 months.
Where Brand Loyalty is Low, Opportunities Await
The cosmetics market is characterized by high concentration and brand awareness. Even people with little to no interest in cosmetics are familiar with household names like L’Oreal, Estee Lauder, and Procter & Gamble-owned Olay. In the U.S., major retailers like Walmart, Target, and Walgreens dominate the share of wallet spent on cosmetics. And yet, there isn’t all that much brand loyalty in cosmetics.
A 2014 TABS Group study found that the heaviest cosmetics shoppers demonstrated no brand loyalty, purchasing more than eight brands on average and shopping at more outlets than lighter buyers. A major influence was the fact that millennial women aged 25 to 34 – a group known for demonstrating less brand loyalty than older generations – purchased the most cosmetics products, at an average 9-10 products per year.
Where brand loyalty is low, more opportunities exist for marketers. Cosmetics brands shouldn’t throw out their glowing and brightening products just yet, but they may want to consider how to respond to renewed consumer interest in anti-aging products.
Written by Uri Goldberg,
Director of Insights at Signals Analytics
Uri Goldberg is a management expert, specializing in serving governments and corporations on strategy, innovations and economic development issues. He worked with McKinsey & Co. where he directed key consulting projects for Fortune 500 companies, as well as governments in Asia, Europe and the Middle East. He also served as Foreign Policy Aid in the office of Israeli President Shimon Peres in his former capacity as Vice Prime Minister.
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