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More Than Lipstick

Alisa Marie Beyer July 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine

What is beauty care? The answer to this question yields significant insight into the hearts and minds of women throughout the United States. How do females define beauty? What are their must-have beauty products? What beauty products or services can they not live without—and which ones do they use to relieve stress? The answers to these questions will provide spa owners and estheticians insight into the wants and needs of today’s clientele. This information should help guide the spa business decisions that are made on a daily basis to continue to be relevant to today’s female clients.

A brave new world

Women’s lives are very different from those of even several decades ago. More and more they have moved out of the home and into the workforce—most are breadwinners. Their evolving roles are nothing short of revolutionary and have changed everything, including the definition and importance of beauty care. This represents an amazing opportunity for all beauty care and beauty service providers. Understanding how women define beauty care and why can lead to an increased understanding of their needs, as well as a greater share of their pocketbook.

Recent research has revealed several interesting themes that revolve around the female consumer’s definition and use of beauty care. Five major findings are explored in this article in order to share consumer insight and implications for beauty marketers. All the statistics in this article have been provided by the March 2006 edition of the Pink Report, a quarterly research account that reveals what consumers of female beauty products want, what they’ll buy and why.

Key finding No. 1: Beauty care is about taking care. Perhaps the most intriguing finding is the shift from the importance of “looking good” to that of “taking care.” Yes, women still want to look good and appear younger, but the primary focus has moved from solely physical to taking care of skin and hair as the primary effort. U.S. women want great skin and this desire grows daily in importance.

When asked to identify what beauty care means, more than 90% acknowledged skin care as synonymous with it. This was followed closely by body and hair care. (See What Does Beauty Care Mean?)

Key finding No. 2: Beauty is more than lipstick. Most marketers know that beauty care means more than lipstick and mascara—but how much more? Beauty care is seen as everything from cosmetics to manicures, massages, haircuts and spa treatments. Women use these products and services not only to take care of themselves in the traditional sense, but also to help them balance stressful lives. Beauty care now equates to beauty services that women cannot live without.

Beauty also means hair care and women are serious about it. They love to have their hair cut, and colored or highlighted. More than half of all women—52%—said that getting a haircut or highlights is the one beauty care service they must have. Manicures were measured at 11%, with massages and facials at 7% and 5%, respectively. Also, don’t touch that facial moisturizer—16% of all women said this is their must-have product, followed by foundation, mascara and lipstick.

Key finding No. 3: Women love to talk and read about beauty care. Beauty care is a subject women enjoy reading about and discussing. Almost 40% of all women receive the majority of their beauty care advice from magazines, and 27% obtain it from either family or friends. (See Beauty Care Advice Sources.)

Cosmopolitan was identified as the No. 1 magazine source for beauty advice, with 13% of respondents identifying it by name. Good Housekeeping and Glamour followed with approximately 10%.

To women, sharing their beauty care rants and raves is important. They love to talk about their beauty products, and one that really works and does what it claims can cause most women to make recommendations to their friends. (See Reasons Women Recommend Beauty Products.)

Key finding No. 4: Beauty care is about feeling pampered. Women have stated that, to them, beauty care is about feeling better, relaxed and balanced—it’s about feeling pampered. This is one of the top adjectives used to describe why females prefer certain brands.

Turn on the hot water, pour in the bubbles and bring down the lights—48% of women turn to a hot bath in order to fight stress and feel indulged. Almost a quarter of them prefer a good massage as a great way to keep stress at bay.

For the majority of females today, fighting stress is a critical element of beauty care. Discovering how your spa’s products and services can help them achieve this can lead to market success. (See Favorite Stress-reducing Treatments.)

Key finding No. 5: Women feel good about themselves, but want to look younger. Contrary to popular belief, most women feel good about their appearance and identity. However, they still are very interested in learning about and purchasing beauty products that make them look younger and feel better. Forty-five percent of women said they rate their looks as above average; 46% percent are extremely happy with their overall beauty; and 42% percent want to buy beauty products that make them look younger.

Assess for success

Spa owners must assess how the continued broadening definition of beauty care affects the market. Do your beauty care products and services go beyond traditional cosmetics? Do they help women relieve stress, feel pampered, look younger or tap into their desire to take better care of themselves? Understanding these fundamental drivers can help produce sales growth and profit improvement for spas.

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What Does Beauty Care Mean?

The following chart lists a variety of types of beauty care and the percentage of respondents who identified that particular type as synonymous with beauty care.

Type of beauty care

Skin care 92%

Body care 74%

Hair care 73%

Cosmetics 68%

Nail care 60%

Bath products 56%

Anti-wrinkle/anti-aging 51%

Perfumes 49%

Facial 41%

Body firming/anti-cellulite 29%

Massages 29%

Aromatherapy 25%

Body treatments 22%

Spa visits 22%

Self-tanners 11%

Laser/injectable filler treatments 5%

Cosmetic surgery 4%

Beauty Care Advice Sources

The following chart lists a variety of beauty advice sources and the percentage of respondents who identified a particular source as their preferred provider of beauty advice.

Beauty advice source

Magazines 39%

Friends 17%

Family 10%

In-store sales personnel 10%

Advertising 9%

Other (primarily the Internet) 9%

Packaging instructions 4%

Books 2%

Reasons Women Recommend Beauty Products

The following chart lists a variety of reasons beauty products are recommended and the percentage of respondents who identified with a particular reason.

Reasons Respondents

The product is really good. 65%

The product works like it

claims it does. 53%

I love it and want to share my find

with my friends. 46%

It is reasonably priced. 42%

If it works for me, it will work

for my friend. 32%

It is easy to find and purchase. 28%

The sales service is excellent. 9%

My friend needs it. 9%

Other (primarily do not recommend) 3%

Favorite Stress-reducing Treatments

The following chart lists a variety of treatments and the percentage of respondents who identified that particular service as their favorite stress-reducer.

Beauty service

Hot bath 49%

Massage 21%

Pedicure 9%

Other (hot shower, glass of wine,

long walk, chocolate) 8%

Salon hair blow-dry 4%

Spa body treatment 4%

Manicure 3%

Facial 2%

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