The entitled consumer

The entitled consumer

The Expectation

Today’s consumer is smart, sophisticated, knowledgeable and very demanding. The beauty industry is partly to thank, or blame, for this phenomenon. Our bar is high.  We create innovative, high performance products, beautifully packaged, and through dynamic marketing campaigns convince the consumer she/he can’t live without them.

We’ve trained the beauty consumer to expect the best.

We tease, entice and lure her/him into the beauty world with promises of youth, vitality and fitness.

The beauty industry creates a constant flow of bright, shiny objects. We sample, gift, discount and give loyalty points.  We show “before and after” images demonstrating improved appearance, renewed youth, better sex and passionate romance.


Customization and personalization are a big part of the consumer expectation.  Products must fit individual needs and wants, from performance and claims to fragrance.  Individual ingredient boosters from brands such as The Ordinary (76% owned by Estée Lauder), Paula’s Choice (recently purchased by Unilever) and Dr. Barbara Sturm allow consumers to create their own skincare cocktail.

There is NO room for mass marketing.

Clarins recently announced the relaunch of My Blend, “skincare tailored specifically to women’s needs.”  It’s not clear why the line didn’t work the first time round, but Clarins is giving it another run.

Prose, an online custom hair care company, founded in France and based in Brooklyn, New York, has taken customization to the next level.  Continually refining ingredients, as well as their customer consultation process, their model is impressive.

Having worked on customization in many iterations in my professional life, it’s challenging at best. It doesn’t always work.

The Shopping Experience

We make it easy for her/him to shop:  a couple of clicks on a device and voila!!….hours later the product arrives.

Consumers choose when, where and how they shop.  They are shopping in fewer places, making fewer trips and being extremely selective. Necessities come first.  Skyrocketing inflation is adding to this mix, as have challenges in the supply chain.

Good service is really table stakes. Whether it’s bricks and mortar retail or online stores, customers will abandon their cart if they feel the service is substandard.  They expect questions to be answered, navigation to be seamless and products to be in stock.  Tall orders.


It seems unnecessary to even mention the customer expectation where sustainability, environmental consciousness, transparency, inclusion, diversity, and connectivity are concerned. These factors must be in place, open to scrutiny and obvious in every link of the organization’s supply chain.

Kindness & Care

Let’s wrap up with a consumer expectation that doesn’t get enough attention: care, nurturing and kindness.  Consumers can be tough, demanding and unreasonable, no question. They make demands and then their priorities may shift to another, unrelated focal point.  Still, brands and retailers need to find a way (despite the challenges!) to demonstrate these qualities to their customers.

Beekman 1802, a young US skincare brand, leads with “kindness”. “There is beauty in Kindness. We are committed to helping Neighbors be Kind to their skin, Kind to themselves, Kind to their community and Kind to the Earth. Research shows that acts of Kindness can improve one’s health. Spread the Kindness.”

Dick’s Sporting Goods, a US based company, (obviously not part of our beauty world) featured their female execs in an emotional Mother’s Day ad to demonstrate the power and nurturing qualities of “motherhood.”

As pharmacies are called on more and more to be wellness centers, caring for customers can require wearing many hats.  A well-trained pharmacy staff can recommend beauty and personal care products, as well as deal with medication.  They can create a welcoming, caring environment to customers who may be feeling vulnerable.  In fact, this should expand to all retail environments, but so often that’s not the case.

Consumer Spending

Consumer spending comprises 70% of GDP in the United States and 50% in Europe ( No surprise, the Asian numbers have a very wide range and are therefore difficult to state clearly and succinctly. It’s clear Asia’s consumer spending power is very dynamic and in some markets, still developing. The fact is, consumer spending is a powerful force for keeping economies strong and people employed.

Keep Her Coming Back

Therefore, it stands to reason, keeping consumers happy, engaged, feeling cared for and spending is in the beauty industry’s best interest.

Take another look at how your company/your brand is interacting with your consumer and see if there is room for improvement. Is the experience exceptional?  Is it seamless?  Is your consumer connection expressed in great reviews and repeat business?    It’s worth the effort. It will pay off!

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Before opening The Young Group in 1999, Karen was Vice President of Marketing, Advertising, Product Development and Sales Promotion for Lancôme. Prior to that, she spent seventeen years at Estée Lauder, where she held a variety of executive positions, including Executive Director of Color Cosmetics. Karen is an active board member of Fashion Group International. She is a certified personal trainer and nutritionist. Karen divides her time between New York and Paris, where The Young Group also has an office. Since opening The Young Group, Karen has worked extensively in all categories of the cosmetic industry. She has developed concepts and products for RoC, Bath and Body Works, Neutrogena, e.l.f, Vichy and Oribe. Karen has worked on numerous established brands in the beauty category, including Christian Dior Beauté, Shiseido, Bumble & bumble, Dove and Paula’s Choice. Karen is an adjunct professor at The Fashion Institute of Technology, teaching Product Development in the Master's program in Cosmetic & Fragrance Marketing and Management.

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