The Changing Face of Beauty the impact of social media on consumer make-up habits

Sensory Spectrum, Inc. is a 32 year old company. We've been in this business for a long time....and our protocols have too. While we routinely revisit our sensory protocols for accuracy and robustness, we've learned that sometimes to stay on top of emerging trends we need to do more than just ask consumers their opinions, we need to get in the trenches with them, do what they do, where they do it. Increasingly this requires social media research, call it electronic ethnography.

Like others, we approach our protocol revisions by using A&U research to gain insight into the mind of the consumer and stay on top of new habits and emerging behaviors. In our most recent survey on color cosmetics we've noticed a new trend among young women: their primary source of information on make-up is social media (including Instagram and YouTube), surpassing the influence of friends and family, beauty magazines, tv/media, or make-up professionals.

Are women of different ages and backgrounds explaining what they want in the same way?

But what does it mean that someone is using social media to learn about make-up? Is it more than make-up tutorials and reviews? To find out, a team of Sensory Spectrum's consultants took to the internet to learn more about just what social media has to say about color cosmetics. We narrowed the scope by focusing exclusively on liquid foundations and learned quickly of social media influencers racking up millions of views talking about beauty products. These make-up addicts (Muas) include James Charles, Nikki Tutorials and Tati and they are redefining the way their fans are talking about color cosmetics.

Our ethnographers noticed some common language being used by the influencers. Foundations are routinely measured on "flaking," "oxidization," "transfer," and "build-able" performance. Our theory became that beauty gurus are standardizing new metrics for product performance that is impacting their viewers. The A&U data supported this; most Millennials who used Social Media as their main resource for learning about make-up were more likely to be concerned with these specific terms than Millennials whose research included other methods and older consumers.

Sensory Spectrum consultants evaluate products

As one of the premier sensory evaluation firms, Sensory Spectrum needs to respond quickly to these trends. After identifying new terms used by consumers, we dug a little deeper by talking with make-up users about these terms and discerned which new terms were already captured by our current protocol. For new attributes that weren't already covered, we identified products that were failures and successes for the terms according to consumers. For example, Fenty Beauty was considered to "oxidize," or change color after dry down, while Estee Lauder Double Wear did not. By playing with these products and a few others, we were able to generate reference scales and train our descriptive panel to capture a more robust and modern protocol.

Want to know more?

Sensory Spectrum will be presenting an oral workshop on this topic at the 2018 SSP Conference that will provide more insights into this category. Stop by, take a look at our data and revised protocols, or just say "Hi". Give us a call if you want to know more about your products, or have us review and update your protocols.

Sensory Spectrum surveyed ~1600 self-identified make-up users for this article.


Created with images by Pexels - "woman girl model face lips makeup beauty" • Jessica001234 - "smile happy people fun young woman happiness" • AO - "Japanese women" • Thomas Hafeneth - "untitled image" • Sharina Mae Agellon - "Ligaya, “Joy”" • Annie Spratt - "Woman applying blusher / highlighter, make up"

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