Neuroscience and cosmetic marketing

Behind every commercial product there are several multi-million dollar campaigns which are based on intensive human psychology and neuroscientific studies. A few decades ago the big brands gave a bunch of consumers a few products to test and provided them with a list of questions to answer. Today, the panel tests are still being run but the studies and experiments leading to a certain concept and campaign are much more intensive. Panelists shall not only fill the questionaire, they are attached to huge machines that measure the movement of their eyes, their brainwaves, their pulse, the degree of excitement or satisfaction, the body temperature or even certain hormones when they see, touch, hear or smell a certain product.

To make it short, if the big names on the market invested one 10th of the money they pour into psychological studies and marketing into research for creating useful and effective products, nobody would need YOUR products and services today. Thanks heaven (for all artisanal manufacturers and Indie brands) this is not the case.

Artisanal and Indie brands on the other hand spend hundreds of hours in creating an effective product but usually lack the budget or the knowledge or both when it comes to the marketing of the products. Your products are usually first consumed then judged and recommended further. It is the same pattern with all the amazing artisanal entrepreneurs that I had the privilege to work with during the last 10 years. Most of them can afford a graphic designer and a brand consultant but that is the end of it.

It doesn't mean however that if you don't have a huge budget, you shall not have your share of the latest studies about human psychology and neuroscience that leads to a certain behaviour or perception of the consumer.

I have recently shared a cosmetic science book which has some amazing information about the neuroscience and marketing and I really recommend that you have a look at that book.

Let me make something clear here:

All of the scientific books about cosmetic formulation and technology are written by the old-school scientists. They are all amazing researchers with loads of experience in the industry but they are still in the era of paraffin and silicone and parabens when it comes to formulation. So even if a book is called "formulation", I want you to keep in mind that you can not get some reasonable formulations (for "natural" and organic formulation concept) but the amount of information and knowledge that you get from these books is still priceless.

They introduce a concept of "true" and "lie" colour accords and share a panel experiment where they have filled the same moisturizer in two different boxes. The creams were all packed in a white jar but the final packaging was in 2 different shades. Half of the boxes had the chromatic accord of "truth" and the other half had the chromatic accord of "lie". It is unbelievable but the majority of the testers found that the cream packed in the "truth" box was less sticky and left a nicer residue on the skin.

A skincare or hair care product is not only a combination of ingredients. If you want to sell your products without investing in huge marketing campaigns you need to at least invest some effort and time in creating a sensory experience that matches the concept and helps the consumer to a certain perception. When it comes to packaging material we usually choose the colours that either match our own preferences or our brand design. The following chart can help you find the suitable colour for a certain concept.

Reference and further reading

Benson, Heather AE, et al., eds. Cosmetic formulation: principles and practice. CRC Press, 2019.

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