...The Role of Marketing in Cosmetic Clinical Trials & the Impact on Consumer (Mis-) Understanding - PART 1
As judged in the press and social media today’s consumers are not easily influenced by cosmetic product claims. The international legal requirement that active ingredients and final formulae require claims substantiation means that neither R&D or Marketing can drop this responsibility solely onto one another. Moreover, an inability to both “understand” and to “translate” new research findings into language the consumer understands without losing scientific integrity, is an opportunity being missed by many brands.
Failure to capture market opportunities is often driven by cost and an unwillingness to spend, choice of clinical studies and lack of understanding, concern over the return on investment, and concerns over regulatory and advertising standards authorities.
Reviewing the last four years and the claims and clinical projects executed for clients, there has been a common underlying theme - namely a disconnect between what marketing desire based on their understanding of the "need", the scientific data generated, claims promoted by raw material suppliers and R&D's interpretation of that data, legislation, the formulation chemist, the clinical testing company or department, and knowledge.
Without consumers and their needs, raw materials would still be at the starting block. Whilst suppliers focus on sales to formulators and R&D, often consumers needs do not even get a look-in. Admittedly marketing acknowledge that they are the ones that create consumers needs, but today’s consumers are not easily influenced by promises of eternal youth or the like, and even if they are not academically “in the know”, more often than not most of them have generated a knowledge in which social media has certainly played a large role in recent years. The supplier who is convinced the consumer is solely the responsibility of their customer needs to know and understand the consumer as real, not just that face in the crowd.
Academias progress continues at lightning speed and the wealth of information available in scientific journals and press is outstanding. Furthermore with large multinational conferences and events dominating the field of all aspects of dermatology, the raw material supplier scientist is spoilt for choice. Failure to capture opportunities as highlighted above, means that commercially driven distributors risk losing a sale with their diluted version of the facts. That said it is encouraging to find and to be consulting for a few unique raw material suppliers whose philosophy is to have the foresight and an almost “personal” desire to invest in the understanding of new research findings and take advantage of them. New claims are developed and justified and in a number of cases, new data has positioned some rather “old” ingredients into “state-of-the-art” knowledge supported with quality peer reviewed scientific publications, and even patent applications, of their own. Combined with quality marketing, they clearly enjoy a unique position in their respective markets.
Whether the industry likes it or not, ingredients or a finished formula require claims substantiation and neither supplier nor customer can pass the responsibility over to one another, and it is disappointing that I often hear some industry individuals actually encouraging this!The common practice not solely within the supply base, of running “cheap and cheerful studies” to avoid costs, and then pass-the-buck, means that is all you will get back - cheap data and often not so cheerful results! As the saying goes - what you put in is what you get out. Expectations always run higher than reality and often pressure is put on the clinical testing companies to "guarantee" results, which is corrupt, immoral, unethical and actually illegal. If you have a high quality raw material with exciting sound and new possibilities, then give it the support it deserves with well thought out study designs, executed at both high quality in vitro laboratories and human testing research companies. Make sure you budget for claims support as a forethought not an afterthought. It is a key foundation to your product success, and in essence its “soul”.