March 6, 2012

A Marketer's Analysis: The Ideal Mascara

I love mascara. I am totally obsessed with it. I have spent at least ten years of my life learning non-stop about this little product that makes such a big difference. 

Last year I had to do a market research project for my studies, the objective was to practice the Adaptive Conjoint Analysis so we had to choose a product and make some questionnaires about it. I don't want to get too technical so I will try to explain this as easy as possible. 

We had to look for the ideal attributes that a certain product would have. So of course I chose mascara. And I used the following attributes and attribute levels (click to enlarge):

For this project Differentiated Brand refers to those brands that have a very special Unique Selling Proposition, such as being hypoallergenic, contain fair trade ingredients, or some kind of innovation that puts their pricing between the drugstore brands and the luxury ones. Examples of this kind of brands are The Body Shop, La Roche Posay and Kieh'ls. It doesn't mean differentiated in the traditional marketing meaning, because of course then all brands must be considered as differentiated. 

If you don't know what tubing mascaras are you are missing out! Instead of painting your eyelashes, they coat them with the so-called tubes that are totally smudge proof since they hang on to your lashes until you take them off with warm water.  I will talk about my personal experiences with this kind of product later on.

By rubber brush I meant those with little flexible spikes such as Cover Girl's Lash Blast:

Or the one from Maybelline's Great Lash Lots of Lashes:
Well, you get the idea.

And by ball/round brush I mean the brush that Givenchy Phenomen'Eyes features:

and L'Oréal Paris Telescopic Explosion:

OK so now to the fun part, the results:

My sample was very small, but I still thought it would be interesting to share the results. With help of a program and based on the data I collected, the ideal mascara should:

- Be black
- Be waterproof
- Have a traditional brush
- Be from a differentiated brand
- Provide length as main benefit

So from now on, whenever the ideal mascara is mentioned, I am referring to a product with the characteristics mentioned above. 

Analyzing these results a bit it's obvious that being black is a given, I think it's safe to assume that most mascara users choose black. Now, I conducted this project in a humid country so I guess that's why it's so important that mascara comes in a waterproof version too. To be quite frank, I was a little surprised because in general I thought people would find removing waterproof mascara to be a hassle. I guess in this case the pros outweigh the cons.

It was not a shock to see that consumers prefer a traditional brush. Curved brushes are not super popular in my very personal opinion, since they don't really curl the eyelashes, sometimes the rubbery ones seem too exotic and the ball/round ones seem well, quite scary. 

Consumers want differentiated brands, I somehow thought that they would prefer either simpler purchase choices from a drugstore or luxurious and fancy products. I somehow assumed that these differentiated brands would appeal to consumers that are more involved in learning about the cosmetic industry. 

Finally, I learned that length is the most sought benefit. I reiterate that my sample is way too small to draw any kind of generalization from it and it was merely an exercise just to learn how the Adaptive Conjoint Analysis works. I think this is the most important attribute in mascaras. I perceive that brands base their communication and product development mostly on this. Promises about extraordinary volume, out-of this-world length, extreme curve and microscopic definition or sometimes combination of those benefits makes resisting running to sample all the new products very hard.

So in my mind this allegedly ideal product does not really exist yet. The Body Shop has Big & Curvy Waterproof mascara which judging by the name and its description provides curve and volume. 

I don't remember Kiehl's having waterproof mascaras (but please correct me if I'm wrong) and as far as I know Too Faced makes only washable and tubing mascaras. I know there are many other brands out there that fit the bill but so far only Tarte comes to mind with their Lights, Camera, Splashes! 

So for this project, this is one that comes close to the concept of the ideal mascara: it is black, waterproof, from a differentiated brand (natural, cruelty free, without synthetic fragrance, no phthalates, green packaging...), has a traditional brush and well it doesn't specifically provide length but it promises the bombshell lashes you love. So I could definitely recommend this one to the participants of my study. 

Please remind me of other products that could be considered ideal, according to the findings of my project.

The final part of the study was to perform three so-called market simulations. Besides the ideal mascara, I had to choose two other products so that the program would tell me which one was most likely to be purchased.

The fun thing about this is that I got to choose two real and very popular products: 

The first one is Diorshow Waterproof by Christian Dior that I chose for being black, having a traditional brush, coming from a luxury brand and providing volume and length:

And the also beloved Maybelline's The Falsies Volum' Express, chosen for being black, washable, having a curved brush, from a drugstore brand and providing volume and length:
So as you can see, I was trying to play a bit with the attributes of the products. 
The outcome from the two first market simulations was that the ideal mascara was the favorite, followed by Diorshow Waterproof and finally Maybelline's The Falsies
The third market simulation showed that Diorshow Waterproof was most likely to be purchased, followed by the ideal mascara and then Maybelline's The Falsies

If I had to do this study again I would definitely adjust the attributes to make it a better research tool and of course use a bigger sample. So far, this project was the most fun I've ever had doing. 

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