In Musings Of A Cosmetic Copywriter – Part 3 Scatter Brain, the newest lobe of the Beauty Brains, discusses how cosmetic advertising works. “Scatter” is actually a professional copywriter who’s worked in the beauty business. She’s one of the people responsible for those catchy advertising slogans that get stuck in your head.
Now to cosmetics advertising and how companies convince us that out of a vast field of competitors, we should purchase their particular product. The key here is rock solid psychographics and vague terms that sound like they mean something but don’t mean anything specific at all. For instance, we are all concerned with aging so let’s examine some of those persuasive words that are allowable but don’t really make a quantifiable claim. “Rejuvenation” is an excellent word. It gives the impression that something can definitively make you look younger. However, “rejuvenation” is non-quantifiable and if you want to get down to brass tacks, a good washing with soap and water can make you feel “rejuvenated” so basically a product can claim to rejuvenate your skin and because it is so subjective and there is no way to prove that it doesn’t.
Another ploy is using big scientific words. If an ad tells someone that a product has “microsomes” or “polypeptides” it is most likely true, but what does that mean and does it really make a difference to your skin? To illustrate how this works let’s say Company A has just launched an ad campaign for Product X with this declarative headline, “Product X Contains Mini-Microspheres Designed Especially For Your Skin!” In this instance, this statement is definitely true. However, the vagueness comes in when you think that “mini-microspheres” sounds high-tech and must really make a difference, but notice the statement never states what these “mini-microspheres” do, it just says they were designed for your skin. A very vague statement when examined closely that really promises nothing definitive at all.
“Natural” is another current trend that psychographics has unearthed. To many, chemicals have a bad reputation so organic or botanical has great appeal. First of all, a product containing plant extracts can be labeled “botanical” and that often leads consumers to believe that the product is chemical free and natural. This just isn’t so. Most “botanical” products are a mixture of both plants and chemicals and here’s the rub (so to speak): Is “botanical” really better? It sounds better, but poison ivy is “botanical” and I sure as heck wouldn’t want to put it on my skin. You really need to find out about the properties of the botanical ingredients and if indeed they make a difference in the formulation or are you just paying extra money for something that sounds good but ultimately washes down the drain?
“Organic” is another of those terms that requires some research on the part of the consumer. First of all, organic doesn’t mean 100% organic. In most instances, products only have to contain 95% organically produced materials to receive an organic designation. That’s still a high percentage, but most people automatically assume that organic means 100%. Here’s another interesting tid-bit about “organic”. There are many products that are organic but just haven’t gone to the trouble and expense to get an organic designation. Coffee isn’t cosmetics but it’s a good example. Almost all coffee whether it’s designated organic or not is organic. Why? Because most coffee is grown in third-world countries high on mountaintops where the peasants who grow it can neither afford nor maneuver fertilizing equipment to where the coffee is grown. Therefore, almost all coffee plants are fertilized the old-fashioned way…animal poop, making most coffee organic whether or not it has an organic designation.
Ok, enough about poop. In the next, and final, chapter in this series I’ll explain how celebrities like Paris Hilton influence our beauty buying habits.
Scatter Brain is a real-life copywriter for hire. If you’re interested in contacting her with business opportunities, please write to “Scatter Brain” care of firstname.lastname@example.org.