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Changes Bring Opportunities

By: Liz Grubow
Posted: January 23, 2009

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Based on a global research study conducted by ACNielsen on consumer attitudes towards aging, women are quick to embrace the idea that 50 is the new 40. This may be one reason some women are in denial in recognizing that their skin conditions, particularly rosacea and acne, could be menopause-related. Some women think that their symptoms are genetic or a result of ill health and do not understand that this is part of the menopausal journey.

Once known as “the silent passage,” some women still refer to menopause as “the change” and avoid the word menopause altogether. This attitudinal behavior makes it challenging for skin care marketers to communicate and connect with this group. If women are hesitant to seek essential advice and treatment, what will resonate more with consumers—how and where a product’s benefits are communicated to them or its formulation/ingredients? And what is the key to encouraging women to try products and to purchase them again?

Research indicates that rosacea is most common in those whose ancestors originated in cooler parts of the globe (Northern or Eastern Europe, England, Scotland, Scandinavia), especially those who are blonde and fair-skinned. It is experienced less often in patients from Western Europe, Asia and those with darker skin, such as African-Americans. Several studies have shown that more than 50% of women around the globe wrongly believe they have sensitive skin, when in fact they may have multiple skin care conditions but don’t realize it. This could include menopausal-related rosacea and acne.

Acne is not as discriminating. Its wrath spans the globe. In the U.S., it is not uncommon to hear women complaining about having to quietly tiptoe into their teenagers’ rooms searching for acne medication. Comments such as, “Since when does getting older mean getting acne?” and “Shouldn’t I be over that by now?” are met with embarrassing nods by those who are experiencing the same condition. The menopausal acne variety is mostly on the lower face, particularly along the chin and neck. This is usually due to the shift in the balance between the hormones androgen and estrogen. Women who had acne during their teen years will often have acne in midlife, too. Adult acne often does not respond as effectively to teenage acne therapies, which translates into a huge opportunity for skin care companies to help women navigate product offerings targeted to their menopausal acne.

Products exist in the marketplace that are specifically addressing menopausal skin conditions, but very few actually include the terms menopausal or menopause. Do women seeking out skin care products for their menopausal conditions actually realize which products are for them? What is the most appropriate product name to use? Do they prefer that the ‘m’ word not be used on the packaging? Is the gentler “mature,” which is utilized in many product descriptors in the category, more appealing to them? Is the word “antiaging” enough to interest consumers? Will using the name rosacea on the packaging or in the brand title help or hinder the consumer to purchase?