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Science, R&D

Cosmetic and sensory: beauty makes sense

Texture odour and colour… multi-sensoriality is strongly linked to the cosmetics industry. It may help selling products, provided it is used properly and its impact on consumers be adequately evaluated, explained researchers and manufacturers who met at the Cosmetic and Sensory congress in Tours, France (June 24-26, 2009).

Experience marketing and points of sales

Both sensual pleasure and sensual unhappiness start in the point of sale itself. Indeed, 62% of French declare that going to stock up on groceries is a real bore (Source: Sofres, September 2008). No surprise if this bore, combined with the growing standardisation of the products offering, is leading to a rampant de-consumption phenomenon.

In order to reverse this trend, Bruno Daucé, associate professor at the University of Angers, recommends an increased used of experience marketing, “a branch of marketing that aims at building a hedonistic experience linked to a brand,” he explains.

Then Bruno Daucé illustrates the experience marketing concept through three examples: the Natura house in Paris, “an authentic Brazilian style living place”, Lush and the greedy smells that are exhaled both in and out the shop, which is arranged like a patisserie, and Yves Rocher.

The latter has been able to strengthen its roots with the development of its Ateliers de Cosmétique Végétale - botanical cosmetic workshop - comprising three distinct areas, “a vegetal greenhouse” to remind that Yves Rocher is a also a plant cropper, a “botanical laboratory” because Yves Rocher is also a manufacturer, and eventually a wellbeing corner (the beauty institute). A concept that is far from the standard points of sales.

These three examples are three original ways to put products under the spotlights and to evaluate them through other criteria than the mere efficiency, but for their sensoriality too.

Claire Deniau, SAM

Claire Deniau, SAM

Male sensory preferences

Considering the sensory aspect, male cosmetics, for which marketing research company SAM (for Sensory and Marketing) presented a case study, are not different from many other products. First, the study decoded the purchasing motivations of males (which are by decreasing order: the brand, the product function, the product type and the packaging), before evaluating men’s sensory particularities with the aim to identify a perfect formulation/packaging combination.

The study showed that for a same brand, an energizing skincare proposed in a white or grey tube would gain 10 points in the scale of preferences (which translates almost directly in market shares) compared to an anti-fatigue skin care sold in a blue or otherwise coloured tube…Also, the study showed that males prefer “fresh and easy to pour textures, with a blue or white colour, and with a musk fragrance,” explains Claire Deniau, SAM’s manager.


Also considering the sensorial aspect, LVMH has elaborated a research procedure aiming at a better comprehension of female consumers’ expectations - whether they are verbalised or not - regarding foundations. Thus, a panel of 140 women was split in three groups: a first one (40%) expecting for transparency and lightness; a second one (20%) seeking a natural product but with a high coverage rate; and a third one (40%), seeking for a satin and slightly powdered formula. Then each of the groups was asked to evaluate 10 products.

Éric Perrier, LVMH Recherche

Éric Perrier, LVMH Recherche

A sensorial mapping revealed there was no product on the market fulfilling the expectations of groups 2 and 3, and three new formulations were subsequently developed. “This kind of study is interesting since it allows us to develop an ideal sensorial profile for each group of consumers, and subsequently to reduce the number of tests and to focus on the most important,” insists Eric Perrier, LVMH Research. “We could go further and make a sensorial map for each product, or each geographic area, and carry on selecting more criteria.


What’s true for skincare and make-up is also true for perfumes. And perfumes may also be “a good means to fight stress,” reminds Anne Abriat, L’Oréal. That’s also what said Boriana Atanasova (University François Rabelais, Tours, France) while illustrating its explanation with a negative case: “depressive people may suffer from an olfactory anhedonia,” that is to say the inability to experience pleasure from good smells and, on the contrary, a strengthening of bad smells, through complex processes that still need to be fully understood.

Anne Abriat, L’Oréal

Anne Abriat, L’Oréal

So, there is still huge margin of improvement before fully understanding, measuring and developing multi-sensoriality, and to contribute to it, a new Cosmetic and Sensory congress is scheduled in 2011.

Sabine Durand

© 2009 - Premium Beauty News -
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