Boomer Women Love Their Beauty Brands

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While the recession may have taught many women the delicate art of trading down, brand loyalty is alive and kicking in the beauty aisle. And a new report from market researcher Mintel finds that Baby Boomer women are especially devoted. While women are more likely to be looking for beauty deals online and in drugstores, a sizable minority is determined not to switch brands. 

"There are grudge purchases, in which women are more than willing to trade down," Kat Fay, senior analyst at Mintel, tells Marketing Daily. "For things like paper towels or bandages, women don't care. But for beauty products, women are loath to change if they don't have to. When times get tough, they might shrink their repertoire, for example, and buy fewer shades of eye shadow, but they are not giving up their brands of makeup and skincare."

And their brand loyalty intensifies as they age. "More than a third of the women in the 35-to-54 age group say, 'No, I am still buying the same brands as before the recession started,'" she says. Among older women, that percentage jumps to 41%.

But they are changing channels, and Mintel's Beauty Retailing report reveals that 10% say they are using some type of online retailer to purchase cosmetics and skin care aids. And only 19% shop for beauty products in department stores, creating lots of opportunities for marketers who sell through drugstores and mass merchandisers.

One of Fay's favorite examples is the success of Procter & Gamble Olay Professional Pro-X line, priced between $41 and $61 -- far more than other products sold in drug and grocery chains. "P&G has done so well with its Regenerist line that it is cleaning up with this," she says.

"Word-of-mouth about its effectiveness has really helped -- while it's true these are very emotional purchases, women are looking for any kind of clinical evidence that something is actually effective. So this line is tempting to women who usually shop in department stores, and are willing to at least explore what drug stores have to offer, as well as women who already buy other Olay products, and are willing to trade up."

While online is growing, Fay believes most of those purchases are repeat buys, not experimental. "Things like lip color don't translate on the Internet -- adding a new thing is always going to start with a product trial, so shopping in stores is still more appealing. But once you've established something is your brand and product and color, replacement purchases on the Internet, which allow you to shop around for the best prices, are appealing."

Greater brand loyalty among beauty purchases for Boomer women is significant, since it's a sector that is growing almost as fast as it's wrinkling: The female Boomer population is expected to increase by 30.9% from 2005 to 2015. What's more, Mintel says they're devoted web browsers, spending 13 hours a week online.

Mintel found that when looking strictly at online sales, 8% of those surveyed visit mass merchandiser sites for beauty products, 8% order from Wal-Mart.com, 8% order from Target.com, 5% patronize drugstore sites like CVS or Walgreens and 8% visit other unnamed online retailers.

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