Project Abstract (2017)

The market for natural makeup has been substantially increasing, primarily because many consumers believe that natural makeup is healthier and higher quality than unnatural makeup. However, perceived health hazards of unnatural makeup have been debunked, and, while there is no evidence disproving the perceived superior quality of natural makeup, the manipulability of chemical ingredients suggests that unnatural makeup would be superior. Therefore, the question arises as to whether consumers choose natural makeup because it is actually superior in quality or because of the aforementioned societal influences. Participants took a blind consumption test involving four popular brands of lip gloss -- natural brands bareMinerals and Burt’s Bees. as well as unnatural brands MAC and L’oreal -- to discern their sensory preferences. Thereafter, participants completed an exit survey which identified their perceived brand preferences and measured how strongly they affiliate with the natural product movement. If participants’ blind consumption choices align with their self-identified brand preferences, then consumer choice is based on actual sensed quality differences between the products. However, if participants’ choices differ, then their decision making is based on emotional perceptions derived from societal influences, corroborating current research. Moreover, the exit survey was used to discern if the emotional choices could be traced to the natural product movement. The results will provide insight into consumer decision-making, which could inform individual consumers and contribute to market research on purchasing patterns in the cosmetics industry.

"The Natural Choice: An Exploration of Consumer Responses to Natural and Unnatural Makeup"