• Jacobs Marketing Communications

How life stage affects beauty spending

In our 2016 Beauty & Personal Care consumer study, we observed an interesting dynamic from the influence of life stage or relationship status. Beauty and personal care purchases were commonly affiliated with indulgence or “selfish” spending. Guilt for purchasing beauty items was common, often overpowering the desire to buy more products and/or more expensive products. The amount of guilt experienced intensified in relationship to life stage and relationship status.

Single participants experienced very little guilt buying beauty and personal care products. Beauty and personal care products were viewed as a necessity for attracting a partner. When single, there is not a shared budget or shared spending, and therefore no perceived judgement placed on spending money on individual needs.

When participants were in a relationship, guilt on spending for beauty increased. One participant stated, “my husband says I should buy what I want, but we are saving for a house and there I other things I feel like I should be spending OUR money on”.

We observed the highest level of guilt on spending for beauty and personal care items from parents. The importance of “treating” oneself with items viewed as unnecessary or overly indulgent was more rare, even regardless of income. For example, a thirty-five year old female loves to buy cosmetics, but as a mother of two, views it as frivolous spending and struggles to control her urge to buy. As a result she impulsively continues to purchase lip-gloss and carries over twenty lip-glosses in her purse. She keeps buying lip gloss because it scratches her urge to buy decent quality at a low price point and provide her a “boost” to confidence.

For participants typically forty or older with grown children, teenagers, or no children, the guilt and association with selfishness for personal spending faded. The belief that he/she has worked hard and deserves to buy what they want returns, similar to the single mindset. This is especially true with woman investing in skin care and anti-aging products.

Lifestage does interplay with mindsets in that the mindsets experience varying levels of guilt based on general belief of the importance of beauty and personal care. The more important the mindset views beauty, the less guilt associated with purchase. The more practical the mindset in general, the less guilt experienced. The higher the guilt experienced, the more scrutiny placed on spending. Bold participants experienced the least amount of guilt across all life stages, but may buy less frequently and more methodically than they would like. The Empowered Mindset might settle for a less expensive or fewer products, compromising more frequently. The Functional may downgrade to a more value driven brand. The Conformist may feel the need to conform less often in social situations.

Winning with the life stage influencer requires a deep understanding of the interplay between a brand’s targeted consumer Mindset and how life stage may play a role in the purchase of a product. If guilt is an issue, providing incentives or excuses to alleviate guilt would be necessary. This could be in the form of additional financial incentives or deals, guilt-free trade-ups, additional product offerings with other brands that may benefit other users in the household, etc. Life stage may not be an issue for many brands, but those targeting Empowered or Functional parents especially need to be aware of the role guilt plays in precluding purchases.

In the purchasing journey, life stage will influence where consumers gather information for active evaluation as well as the state of mind or effort required during closure. Consider this when choosing advertising channels or where to build community. For example, if targeting Empowered Mindset Moms, they will be more distracted and time strapped. They will need more convenience and spend less time than their Mindset would prefer in both active evaluation and closure. They most likely read different magazines or articles, and watch different programing than they did when single. These nuances of interplay will be true across all Mindsets and Life Stages, with sixteen or more potential combinations of Mindset and Life stage to play within.

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