Coschem lecture delves into sensorial properties in skin care

Coschem’s lecture on 29 July discussed the sensorial properties of skin care products. Sensorial profiling of cosmetics was the topic of discussion at the basic refresher sensorial morning hosted by the Society of Cosmetic Chemists (Coschem) on 29 July 2015. Speakers included Dr Heidi Grimmer from Sense of Nambitha and John Knowlton, owner of Cosmetic Solutions.

Dr Grimmer highlighted the importance of sensorial research in cosmetics, amongst other FMCG products. ‘Manufacturers don’t always get sensorial right. They focus a lot on packaging, thinking it will sell their product. But sensorial and the product inside the packaging will get consumers to continually support the brand,’ she explains.

She also indicated sensorial research can guide the new product development process. It also ensures product consistency and helps the brand owner understand how its existing products are performing against competitors. Sensorial evaluations can be done through analytical research or techniques that rely on focus groups and the consumer’s experience of the product being tested.

Know your target market

Delving deeper into the topic of sensorial in the skin care segment, Knowlton introduced the audience to the concept of sensorial engagement. He explained a product’s visual appearance, tactile properties and olfactory profile all work together to create the sensorial characteristics of cosmetics. Knowlton pointed out the visual appearance of cosmetics currently fall into four categories or themes.

Predominant themes in the visual appearance and packaging of cosmetics:

  1. Nature driven: Packs for these products look natural and attract a group of consumers known as ‘purists’.
  2. Innovation and performance: The focus is on the latest, cutting-edge products, packaging and formulations. Knowlton referred to the consumers that follow this trend as ‘fusionists’.
  3. Science-driven: Consumers attracted to these products are called ‘futurists’ and are very interested in technological developments in the beauty arena.
  4. Traditional, reassuring: Products that fall into this category attract a group of disengaged consumers.

The powerful sense of touch

Cosmetics have a variety of tactile properties, which could make or break a product’s performance in the market. Among these factors are product pick up, thickness or rheology, rub in or absorption, immediate after-feel and long-term after-feel.

Ingredients contributing to these tactile properties include oils, fats and waxes; emollients and silicones; emulsifiers; and rheology modifiers. 

Dr Grimmer and Knowlton agree that consumers rely heavily on their sense of touch, smell and sight when making purchasing decisions. Getting sensorial right will not only attract consumers to a product, but also encourage repeat purchases.

The next Coschem seminar takes place on 19 August. This will be a lecture evening on packaging trends and technologies, hosted at the Coschem office in Randpark Ridge, Johannesburg. It will also be available via webinar for attendees in Cape Town and KwaZulu-Natal. For more information, e-mail Bridget MacDonald on [email protected].

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