Online reviews may provide important information for consumers looking for new beauty products, but they cannot replace the physical experience of trying them out. No amount of research can outweigh the scent, feel and look of a product on your own skin.
Hence although reviews posted online are increasingly a trusted source of information, shoppers still like to try personal care cosmetic products in store before they buy. In 2017, the Retail Dive Consumer Survey found that: “More than half of surveyed consumers said they visit a store – at least occasionally – to see, touch and feel products before ordering them online.” This has become an important part of the purchasing experience.
But with a huge range of products available, each one has only an instant to impress, otherwise the prospective buyer will move on to the next product.
You never get a second chance to make a first impression
One way for products to stand out from the crowd is through sensory branding, a concept that incorporates the senses into the shopping experience. This approach provides instant appeal through visual and perceptual effects with the added long-term benefit of brand loyalty through the consumer’s lasting skin comfort and flawless appearance.
The importance of immediate effects in personal care cosmetic products
DSM recently conducted a survey on a market and consumer platform, in which it asked 215 female respondents in North America, China, South America and Europe about the importance of immediate effects in beauty and personal care products. Although the responses varied depending on various factors such as skin type and local climate conditions, it was clear that consumers want the effect of the product to be immediate, with some consumers saying this encourages them to use the product more frequently. Consumers do not expect a complete transformation in an instant, but they do want to see a slight, noticeable, positive change, such as imperfections softening in color. When beauty and personal care products achieve this, it creates confidence among users – both in the product and in themselves – and increases sales.
Today's top three wishes : soft focus, dry touch, and color boost
When DSM analyzed the results of the study, it was able to define three key consumer desires related to immediate effects: Soft focus, dry touch and color boost. The ‘soft focus’ effect is an effort to blur skin imperfections such as spider veins, spots, lines and pigmentation visible because of the high contrast between either light and dark or various colors. The ‘dry touch’ effect leaves a clean, lightweight, nude skin feel with no residue and a matt finish on the skin. It is currently used primarily in the sunscreen market to improve the sensory touch from an oily and greasy perception on skin towards an improved and appealing skin feel. Dry touch is also perfect for consumers with oily or combination skin who want a lightweight, refreshing product that can be absorbed quickly for a natural-looking finish. The ‘color boost’ effect places the focus on vibrant colors and decreasing application time through quick spreading with good pay-off. This is particularly important in lipstick, which many women apply daily in order to feel presentable, comfortable and more confident.
The solution: sensory and visual modifiers
Cosmetics companies can translate these desires into reality by using sensory and visual modifiers, which deliver on both look and feel by providing a natural, radiant appearance and vibrant color alongside a soft, lightweight finish. These cosmetics ingredients feature an immediate pay-off as consumers notice the difference, feel more confident and beautiful and are happier with the product. This positive experience increases trust in the product and brand loyalty.
VALVANCE – for benefits you can see and feel
DSM has a portfolio of three sensory ad visual modifiers tailored to the desires identified in its consumer survey: VALVANCE Look 100, which provides natural coverage with blurring performance by catching the light to visibly reduce imperfections for the soft-focus effect; VALVANCE Touch 210, which achieves optimal oil absorption without compromising on comfort, with even dispersion on skin, and a velvet rolling touch for the dry-touch effect; and VALVANCE Touch 250, which features high glide and improved powder fluidity for the color boost effect.
Always at the cutting edge
At DSM, the process does not end when cosmetic formulations are created. The global science-based company has a panel of sensory experts – two-thirds of whom are formulators of personal care cosmetic products – who constantly evaluate and optimize the sensory performance of ingredients. They meet weekly to analyze in the region of 200 to 250 products per year based on a rigid evaluation scheme that uses multiple reference points to calibrate the scale. The result is cosmetic formulations that are always at the cutting edge of science and provide consumers with a sensory experience that no online review can deliver.
 Cosmetic Formulation: Principles and Practice, p. 414
 Journal of Psychiatry, A Study on the Influence of Senses and the Effectiveness of Sensory Branding
 Why Women Wear Lipstick