Cosmetics Advertising: Perfect Match or Hard Pass?

29 April 2021

Using our pioneering neuro-led research service, Engagement Insights®, we measured image perception against key marketing values, campaign imagery from leading brands across the Automotive, Fragrance, Cosmetics, Watches & Beverage sectors, in order to produce tangible results and deepen our understanding of what visual ingredients emotionally engage your audience.


Sector by sector, we’re unveiling key insights into demographic splits. For the latest in this SBBlog series - we’re discussing the Cosmetics sector.



For the Cosmetics testing, we gathered two campaigns for each brand: latest product launch and best selling product. All the campaigns we selected were targeted at women of different ages around the world. In this sector, the brochure images (print ads) are heavily endorsed by influencer marketing, i.e. celebrity endorsements.

Read more about influencer marketing here

Through research prior to our testing, we found that trust was one of the key factors in driving consumer purchase decisions in this space. The levels of trust in a cosmetic brand can be driven by a number of things such as sustainability, transparency in the production of their products and general public opinion. So let’s take a look at the results and see how Cosmetics advertising is really perceived...



The Results

The Cosmetics imagery ranks #1 across the whole study - this is driven by respondents having relatively strong associations, across all metrics, with the product shots.
Cosmetics was ranked top in positive, premium and its sector value - trust.


PI Sector overall table




Interestingly, men have the strongest emotional pull to the campaign imagery, ranking #1 most positive with men across all sectors - despite all the products being aimed towards women.


Cosmetics Geography



US respondents perceive cosmetics imagery to be the least modern across the whole benchmark. However, the same respondents also have the strongest trust associations with the images. This is in direct contrast to the belief that progressive and modern brands increase customer loyalty, trust and success. Perhaps the longevity of the brands is what makes people consider them reputable.


Cosmetics Male vs Female




Overall, older audiences (Over 40s) have stronger associations with the attributes when compared to younger respondents - 3 out of 5 of the metrics are ranked #1 in this sector, and across the whole benchmark, by older respondents.


Cosmetics Age



In conclusion, the Cosmetics sector proved victorious amongst the 5 sectors we tested in the Perception Index®, beating the competition in three attributes despite scoring the second lowest in modern, topped only by the Beverage sector. This result is surprising considering the Cosmetics sector is an avid user of influencer marketing, which ultimately has proved to lower perception of positive on images.

Arguably the most important metric in this sector is trust - women have strong trust associations with the brands tested in this sector. As the Cosmetics industry has invested so much in building trust with their target audience, this is a very positive result.


Stay tuned for the insight scoop on the other sectors we tested in the Perception Index®


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