Advertising is designed to persuade consumers to buy products and services, with ads containing a call to action that is either implicit or explicit. In other words, they either imply that you need a product, or come right out and tell you that you’ve got to have it. The beauty product industry relies on both kinds of persuasion techniques to sell products.
Ads that rely on celebrities to sell their beauty products use implicit persuasion. While not explicitly telling you that using their products will result in "star quality," the message is implied. Association can be a powerful tool, according to the Media Literacy Project, because it targets emotional responses when the product is associated with feelings, such as feeling good about yourself, being accepted by a certain group of people or being in league with the spokesperson.
When beauty product ads make promises that a certain face cream will make you look younger or that a foundation will take years off your appearance, the message is explicit. The effectiveness and quality of the products are emphasized rather than the emotional connection. There’s also a call to action in explicit ads that may include money-saving sales, limited editions or bulk purchase savings.
Targeted marketing typically is based on extensive research so that the ads will fulfill a need for the target market. For example, women surveyed may tell researchers they want their hair to look and be healthy, so the marketing team delivers ads that promise users of a beauty product that they will have healthy hair after using it. The ads likely would stress ingredients that sound healthy, such as minerals and vitamins. Targeted marketing based on research fills the need with every line of copy, persuading consumers that their answers lie in the advertised product.
Image and how people perceive women is at the basis of most advertising in the beauty industry, according to the Center for Media Literacy, which adds that in the advertising arena, women are most always portrayed as housewives or sex symbols. And it’s those images that marketers want to project to persuade women to buy the products to be either competent and cherished, or lovely and desirable. The image-based ads rely on the human need to develop a self-concept and are particularly effective with adolescents who are in the process of discovering themselves and their identities. With the purchase of a beauty product, women see themselves in the image portrayed in the ad.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."