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The Importance of Understanding Consumer Preferences for Dermatologist Recommended Skin Cleansing and Care Products

January 2019 | Volume 18 | Issue 1 | Supplement Individual Articles | 75 | Copyright © January 2019


Joanne Crudele MS, Elizabeth Kim MS, Karen Murray BS, Jamie Regan MS

Unilever Research & Development, Trumbull, CT

Figure3As seen in the preference mapping work, a large segment of men prefer a clear formulation, light airy abundant lather, and a clean rinse without a residue. Additionally, a nation-wide consumer test was done in the US on over 1700 men who were potential consumers of men’s bodywash products. Figure 3 shows that as opacity increases so does moisturized skin feel, but overall opinion and perceived masculinity is low. The transparent products are evaluated to be more masculine and are more liked by male consumers. Thus, many body cleansing formulas that are marketed toward men are structured as translucent, gel-like washes that provide abundant lather and a clean rinse. However, some cleansers in the market, in order to provide desired sensories, rely on relatively harsher formulations. Therefore, it is valuable for dermatologists and other recommenders to understand the relative differences among types of cleansers.The skin care market has recently seen an explosion of products specifically targeting men, including face wash and shave gel. A sensory targeting exercise was conducted in several countries with between 35 to 50 men ages 18-40 that were regular users of face cleansers and/or face care products. They were asked to evaluate a range of products representing a wide array of sensories, each compared to a control product. Results of this research in the US have shown that, for facial cleansing, the products that performed well with men delivered on the perception of “refreshes and revives tired skin.” These perceptions can be delivered through a blue transparent color, a smooth skin feel after wash, and a crackling sound. The novelty of a cooling/crackling soap drove the perception of refreshment. As with body wash previously described, men do not want thick, opaque formulations, but prefer clear products with suspended bubbles in the formula. In this same sensory targeting exercise, we have seen similar results for men’s lotions as well. For a product to be well-liked, it must deliver on the perceptions of refreshment, revive tired skin, and appear attractive. The visual appearance that cues these attributes are blue and light green colors, translucency, gel texture, and glossiness. Oils and extremely thick creams do not deliver on these attributes. Overall, the US male consumer is concerned about feeling refreshed and avoiding skin problems such as dryness. In a shaving HUT, completed with 123 men, aerosols (both foams and gels) performed well and creams did not, showing that format plays a role in perceived performance.Overall, men and women have very different preferences with respect to lotions and cleansers. A large majority of women prefer thicker, creamier, more opaque products and, in general, men prefer more translucent products with a lighter skin feel. Keeping these preferences top of mind could be useful as recommendations are considered, to help encourage continued consumer use.Self-Perceived Sensitive Skin Almost 50% of the US population has self-perceived sensitive skin.6 Research has shown that the symptoms and causes of sensitive skin vary along with the product sensory preferences and benefits sought by consumers. While ultimately the dermatologist is the most appropriate expert to identify which products are best for each patient to help reduce sensitivity symptoms, an important goal is patient adherence to the regimen, which could potentially be better achieved by taking patient preferences and priority product attributes into account.According to Unilever consumer research that surveyed 151 consumers that use sensitive skin body wash, the most common sensitive skin complaints include redness, acne, dryness, and burning (see Figure 4). Sensitive skin consumers are looking for products that do not exacerbate these symptoms and further aggravate their skin. This means that mildness is a critical attribute for sensitive skin cleansers, however, consumers typically cannot perceive it and may be judging efficacy by other product attributes and claims. In one US consumer study, 208 self-perceived sensitive skin female consumers were asked what they were looking for in a sensitive skin body wash. At least 90% agreed that it should be non-irritating and gentle, it should leave skin feeling clean, moisturized, nourished, soothed, soft, and smooth, and be easy to rinse without leaving a residue. When asked open ended questions, answers show that these benefits were cued by a thick, creamy, dense product texture, moisturized feeling without greasiness, mild clean, fresh smell, minimal dyes, and no beads or other abrasives.When it comes to skin care products developed for those with sensitive skin, it is important for the product to provide a pleasurable experience. Masking unpleasant product odors, natural non-irritating colors, and a comfortable after-use skin feel contribute to creating an enjoyable cleansing experience. Unilever understands the value sensitive skin consumers attribute to the usage experience, and recently launched a therapeutic range