Demonstrating a cosmetic benefit

I was reading my twitter feed and noticed someone reporting from the annual PCPC conference (#pcpc2014 in case you are searching Twitter).  The following quote Jonah Berger was relayed and it struck me as relevant to cosmetic formulators.

Figure out how to show people the benefits rather than tell them

Cosmetic product benefits

The first step to showing people the benefits of your cosmetic formulation is to figure out just what those benefits are.  This can be tricky because product benefits are not always obvious.  It’s much easier to come up with product features and people often mistake the two.  Product benefits are the perceived value or advantage that a consumer derives from using your product.  Product features are descriptions of the actual product (e.g. color, size, price, etc).  When you are trying to market your product or idea, it is always best to focus on the product/idea benefits.

So how do you identify the benefits of your product?  A typical way is to list all the features of your product then answer the question…

So what?

Skin lotion example

If you are formulating a skin lotion and want to figure out the benefits, first list the features.  For example, a skin lotion might have the following features

  • Appealing fragrance
  • Thick lotion
  • Moisturizes skin
  • Lasts for 24 hours
  • White lotion
  • Pump delivery system

Then answer the question “so what?”

  • Appealing fragrance – Makes you feel happy when you smell it
  • Thick lotion – Does not make a mess you try to apply it
  • Moisturizes skin – Makes you skin feel better
  • Lasts for 24 hours – You won’t have to apply it as frequently
  • White lotion – Will not stain clothes or your skin
  • Pump delivery system – You don’t have to think about how much to use

When you are marketing your product, always explain the benefits of any feature.  But as the speaker’s quote who started this post suggests, showing your product benefits is better than just telling what your product benefits are.

How do you show a benefit?

Showing a product benefit is done in a number of ways which depends on how you are communicating with your consumer.  If you are face to face with a consumer you can show the benefit by giving a demonstration of the effect.  For example, this commercial gives a great demonstration of the benefit of the product.

“Softens hands while you do the dishes”  – The consumer actually soaks their hand in the dishwashing liquid.  If you are face to face with a consumer you can engage the sense of smell, touch, sound, as well as sight.

But in most cases you will be communicating via some audio/visual medium like television, magazines, or the Internet.  For this you will have to come up with demonstrations to show your benefit.  For example, when I was working on a technology to stop hair color from fading, we came up with a demonstration involving three tresses that showed where the color started, what it looked like after washing 20 times without the treatment and what it looked like after washing 20 times with the treatment.  It was an impressive visual.

Videos are also great for showing a benefit.  TV commercials do it all the time.  If you want to communicate that using your product will make you look beautiful and feel happy, you can show a beautiful happy person using your product.  For a person in the lab, you could come up with a demonstration that shows your hair conditioner makes hair easier to comb by showing one untreated tress is much more difficult to comb than your treated tress.

If you can come up with a great demonstration for your product, it will make it much easier to sell your product to both the consumer and to your marketing group.  So spend some time listing the features and benefits of your product, brainstorm some ways to demonstrate the benefits, then do it!  This really can be one of the more fun aspects of product development and formulation.


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