Our Business Intelligence team is dedicated to bringing readers unique and relevant consumer insights using our very own advanced customer feedback analysis technology. Therefore, through a monthly new series of Voice of the Customer (VoC) analyses, Wonderflow’s analysts share original market research articles on relevant and critical trends across major industries and categories, all based on real consumer reviews. Consequently, more relevant managers can consider our insights to make better, well-informed decisions.
This new VoC analysis extends from our previous research on the trend of Naturality in skincare. It does so by deep-diving into another major topic or aspect of beauty products: packaging.
This article aims to understand the role of packaging in skincare and what customers are saying about it when buying and reviewing cosmetic or beauty-related products. Our insights may better help cosmetic brand managers, marketers, product developers, and more to understand what modern consumers are demanding across popular cultures.
To run the analysis, analysts at Wonderflow have ingested over 170,000 consumer reviews that:
- Relate to the best-selling skincare products
- Analyzing four major markets – France, Brazil, the U.K., and the U.S.A.
- A special qualitative analysis has also been conducted on skincare consumers in China and Japan.
- The feedback data was also sourced from many different channels, including Amazon, Sephora, Target, Boots, etc.
Read on to learn more!
Based on our analysis of major cosmetic brands and products, across four diverse and popular markets, we found that Packaging is mentioned 4.4% of the time out of all the consumer reviews analyzed. The topic has a positive sentiment index (0.45), which means that there are more positive than negative comments (see Figure 1 below).
Figure 1: The percentage of Mentions and Sentiment Index for the skincare topic of “Packaging” per country – Source: wonderflow.ai
Looking at those four countries above, the percentage (%) of ‘mentions’ refers to packaging change. Some of the key takeaways here are:
- French consumers talk the most about Packaging in their written online reviews on skincare-related products, and most of their feedback is positive.
- In contrast, Brazilian shoppers mention Packaging very few times, with only 1% of related mentions.
- The U.K. has the lowest Sentiment Index, which means that British consumers complained the most about Packaging than the other three countries.
To understand what kind of things skincare shoppers complained about the most in their feedback and across the four countries, we chose the top five topics with the greatest (negative) influence on product ratings (represented by the ‘Negative Relevance Score’).
Those five popular ‘negative’ topics (see figure 2) are Generic Performance, Fragrance, Safety Seal, Irritation, and Authenticity.
Then, let’s take an example by looking at customer feedback sourced from U.K. platforms and channels.
You can see below that when it generally comes to skincare products, Authenticity and Safety Seal (both popular packaging-related topics) have the highest negative relevance scores. What could this mean?
Generally, British consumers often complain about the packaging design of their beauty-related products. It is especially the case when it concerns the product’s top or seal and whether there’s a missing cover. As a result, many U.K. shoppers believe that the product itself might not be all that “authentic” or real, thus feeling less satisfied.
Figure 2: Left graph shows a high mistrust of skincare products in the U.K., and the right diagram shows that common consumer complaints are over products’ lack of seal and authenticity – Source: wonderflow.ai
Now, how about next zooming in on a specific (best-selling) cosmetic product that has the most negative feedback from British reviewers?
Figure 3 below shows an example of such a product, the Eight Hour Cream from Elizabeth Arden. Digging deeper into what customers had to say about this certain cream, many complained about it mainly because it lacked a “safety seal.” As a result, many assumed it to be a “fake product.”
Furthermore, many buyers gave the cream a low product rating (4.44), lower than the average rating for the overall Cream category in the U.K. (4.52).
As one of our key recommendations, skincare brands seeking to succeed in the U.K. market must offer quality and durable protective covers on all their products. This would help increase consumer brand trust and customer satisfaction.
Figure 3: Analysis of Elizabeth Arden’s Eight Hour Cream and how it’s considered ‘fake’ (high negative relevance score for Authenticity) among U.K. customers. The far-right diagram shows examples of real consumer reviews for the product. Source: wonderflow.ai
Something similar and striking also emerged from our skincare analysis of Japan and China. In both major Asian markets, many customers perceive the lack of a safety seal as a sign of product fakeness.
Moreover, our analyzed reviews for these countries revealed two major findings, including:
- Japanese and Chinese customers generally expect cosmetic companies to offer products inside multiple-layer packages. The product should be wrapped in either plastic or glass. The covered item should then be placed in a cardboard-like box.
- If there doesn’t seem to be cardboard-type packaging around the product itself, most shoppers will associate this with a lack of product authenticity (not real).
Product packaging design and quality are more important to Chinese consumers than Japanese shoppers, particularly with beauty-related products. This is because there is a greater influence on their perception of the product.
For instance, if the packaging seems too simple, Chinese customers will most likely perceive the cosmetic product as a fake. One of the main reasons we found this to be true is because many Chinese expect more from luxury beauty brands (compared to other countries).
And based on our voice of the customer findings, we draw the following practical recommendations for cosmetic product managers:
- Offering highly unique or creative packaging on your products, especially for those looking to succeed in the Chinese market
- Using mostly glass as packaging material (instead of plastic) and darker shades of color to help possibly protect the product from visible wear and tear.
Compared to the previously mentioned countries, American consumers have quite the opposite approach to skincare product packaging. They generally expect product packaging to be simpler, more minimal, smaller, and have the least negative impact on the environment.
In fact, we found the topic of “impact on the environment” to be the most popular topic in dozens of U.S. beauty-packaging-related reviews. Figure 4 below shows that this topic’s popularity increases significantly, year by year!
Figure 4 – Popularity trend – Source: wonderflow.ai
Furthermore, when it comes to health/beauty brands providing information on product packaging, this concept alone is extremely important to many American customers.
Thus, Information on Package is a trending topic among U.S. skincare reviews; it’s increasingly mentioned each year (Figure 5).
This further shows that American shoppers consider the overall concept of packaging to be more of a functional tool to help them learn more about the actual product they’re buying and using. So, there’s significantly less focus on the external appearance of the product or its aesthetics and design when compared to the other three countries.
As a critical managerial recommendation, skincare brands should consider including transparent labeling and ingredient descriptions on their product packaging. Simultaneously, they should adopt more of a minimal or basic design while using recyclable materials.
Consequently, new skincare startups, or foreign beauty brands looking to penetrate the U.S. market, will likely succeed.
Figure 5: Popularity trend of Information on package topic – Source: wonderflow.ai
The popular “pump” cover on skincare products
As previously shown, France is the country boasting the highest number of skincare-packaging-related topics among its customer reviews. The market also has the highest sentiment index.
Therefore, we can see that many French skincare customers are more interested in packaging design than in its environmental impact (see Figure 6 below).
Figure 6: On the Left: Number of mentions (positive and negative) and % of the total number of feedback related to packaging – Source: wonderflow.ai
Several of our key and specific findings are:
- The packaging styles of Elegance and Chic are critical to customer satisfaction in the French market, particularly when shoppers are buying from luxurious or ‘prestige’ cosmetic brands.
- Beauty packaging materials like glass and designs like dark-to-opaque colors are often seen as key drivers of improved customer perception of the brand and product. Many believe that it is ‘high-quality,’ so they become more satisfied with their cosmetic product purchases.
- “The pump” cover on products is especially popular among French skincare reviewers. It’s the kind of top (image above) that allows one to push down on it to extract, say, cream, oil, etc easily. Many local reviews mentioned how “very practical” the pump is. Also, more than the design itself, many French beauty shoppers expect products with pumpers to deliver the right amount of liquid and be durable enough not to break off.
Wonderflow empowers businesses with quick and impactful decision-making because it helps automate and deliver in-depth consumer and competitor insights. All within one place, results are simplified for professionals across any high-UGC organization, and department to access, understand, and share easily. Compared to hiring more analysts, Wonderflow’s AI eliminates the need for human-led setup and analysis, resulting in thousands of structured and unstructured reviews analyzed within a matter of weeks and with up to 50% or more accurate data. The system sources relevant private and public consumer feedback from over 200 channels, including emails, forums, call center logs, chat rooms, social media, and e-commerce. What’s most unique is that its AI is the first ever to help recommend personalized business actions and predict the impact of those actions on key outcomes. Wonderflow is leveraged by high-grade customers like Philips, DHL, Beko, Lavazza, Colgate-Palmolive, GSK, Delonghi, and more.
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