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Product Bite: What Words Make Women Buy Makeup?

shutterstock_144298741Yesterday, there was an article in US News about the “pink tax”. Do women pay more than men for the same kind of products like antiperspirant or shampoo? Yes, we do. Our own Jenn Steele is also quoted in the piece given all her work on the gendered pricing of antiperspirants. It got me thinking about a separate but related issue, about how products are marketed to women – not just in terms of price, but qualitatively, what kind of words are used to entice them and sell them the value proposition?

We all know about the importance of naming a product well. There are teams and experts who spend months mulling over the right name for a product or service. Digression for a quick story here- We had a box of assorted snacks sent over to our office to try out. One of the snacks looked like chicken jerky and it was literally called “Chicken Meat.” Creative fail. Needless to say, we didn’t even open that packet! My point being, naming matters.

I used the Indix Product API to look up the titles of face powders for women across four popular drugstore brands – Maybelline, Revlon, CoverGirl, and L’Oreal. A random sampling of variant titles revealed this.

FacePowWordCloud

Which words stand out to you? Here’s my list:

“Translucent”
“Fit Me!”
“Poreless”
“Classic”
“Natural”
“Matte”
“Super-Blendable”
“Oil-Control”
“Clean”
“ColorStay”
“TRUE Match”
“Dream”
“Creamy”
“TRUblend”
“Glow”
“Radiance”
“Shimmer”
“PhotoReady”
“Bronzing”
“Ultimate Finish”
“Soft-Focus”
“Line-Minimizing”
“Shine-Free”
“Perfector”
“Luminous”
“Instant”
“Age-Defying”
and my favorite, “Age Rewind”

So the promise of beauty ranges from the “Natural” to “Translucent” – get the unblemished skin you were born with or aspire for the impossible to achieve. Here’s the Merriam-Webster definition of “Translucent”: not completely clear or transparent but clear enough to allow light to pass through. How does that even apply as an attractive qualifier for skin?

Independent of brands, it would be very difficult to tell these products apart. In general, the descriptors can be put into a few high level groups.
Look your best in pictures: PhotoReady, Soft-Focus, Glam, Illumination, Light Catcher, Ultimate Finish, Oil-Control, Shine-Free, Matte
Look youthful: Age Rewind, Age-Defying, Line-Minimizing, Poreless, Lift, Superfresh, Flawless, Advanced, Dream 🙂
Look effortlessly gorgeous: Classic, Clean, Luminous, Transparent, Shimmer, Glow, Radiance, TRUE Match, Super-Blendable

Makeup is all about aspiration. It’s quite remarkable that there are so many words that convey the difference in the sameness. We’re all buying into it, so it definitely works!

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