Cosmetics and Brain Science, Toward the cutting edge of consumer sentiment research
Cosmetics and Brain Science, Toward the cutting edge of consumer sentiment research
  • By Kwon Gu Sang
  • Accepted 2021.01.08 15:16
  • Comments 0
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Amore Pacific - Emotional Cosmetics

Kwon Gu Sang Senior Researcher

Amore Pacific Institute of Technology Customer Sensitivity Lab

Kwon majored in life sciences and psychology at Sungkyunkwan University and earned his master's and doctorate degrees in brain science. He was a visiting researcher at the Center for Bioscience and the University of Munich, Germany, and a postdoctoral researcher at Sungkyunkwan University's Brain Science Imaging Research Group (IBS) and is currently a senior researcher at the Amore Pacific Institute of Technology's Customer Sensitivity Lab.



Neuromarketing, Brain Science Utilized in Industry

The act of seeking beauty uses a variety of senses. People actively concern whether the color matches them, whether the scent touches their emotions, and whether the texture fits their skin. Recently, ASMR contents are attracting attention and the cosmetics industries can only attract consumers' interest if they can provide various sensations. Satisfaction and perception of the product can be differentiated only when the emotional parts are touched. This is also in line with the recent trend in which cosmetics consumers care about emotional well-being and mental care. So how can we identify the emotional responses?

Various responses from consumers can be identified through surveys and interviews, which are traditional methods of investigation, but emotional responses have limitations in expressing them in language or scores. David Ogilvy, who is called the father of the advertisement said "Consumers don't think how they feel. They don't say what they think. And they don't do what they say.“ Recent advances in brain science have made it easier to identify unconscious emotional responses (or emotions) through simple biometric measurements, such as brain waves or skin electrical reactions. These studies are becoming increasingly advanced in the field of consumer neuroscience, or Neuromarketing, which is the study of utilizing experimental psychology or neuroscience methodologies or theories to understand consumer behavior. Neuromarketing, a compound word of neuron and marketing, is a generic term for applying the technology to R&D and marketing strategies by analyzing the feelings of productsㆍbrand from the unconsciousness of consumers through brain scienceㆍpsychological techniques, and has been used in various industries since it was introduced by Ale Smidts in 2002.

The number of applications of brain science techniques in the beauty industry is also increasing. Looking at the topics published by the IFSCC in recent years, we can see that utilization from a research perspective is gradually increasing (Table 1). From basic research on scent and formulation to areas closely linked to our lives, such as awareness of aging and wellness, topics that incorporate brain science research of various techniques are being announced.

Table 1. Recent IFSCC Presentation Topics (Study on the Application of Brain Science Techniques).


An Emotional Study on Brain Science in Amorae Pacific

Amore Pacific released two related studies last year at the IFSCC. In the first study using brain waves, we wanted to objectively verify the effect of preference and relaxation of citron scent. Both subjective preference and relaxation scores, as well as objective relaxation, confirmed by the brainwave evaluation, showed that citron scents were more effective compared to other scents (Figures 1 and 2). It is difficult to use as a research stimulant because there is a big difference between individuals and the response to the same scent depends on the condition of the thyroid, weather, and health condition. However, since most of the olfactory reactions obvious, there are many red spots in terms of recognizing emotions by applying brain science research. As known as Proust Effect, smelling often brings memories and emotions that are intertwined with the smell at the same time. During fragrance evaluation, when asked for an image of fragrance, it was often explained in various languages based on personal memory, and if one can objectively recognize and communicate his feelings through scent, it will enrich your emotional experience.

In the second study, Heart rate variability (HRV) techniques were used to identify the sensitivities of cleansing on stress relief caused by fine dust. These days, it is easy to measure level of stress in wearable devices such as smart watches by reflecting the degree of activity and balance of the autonomic nervous system. To cause stress caused by fine dust, a simulation room was created to induce indirect experiences such as fine dust audio-visual video playback. Heart rate variation was measured from the moment the sensor was attached to the simulation room to the process of washing the face outside the room, and the washing was divided into the condition of hand-operated and cotton pads. Both conditions have confirmed that post-cleaning heart rate variability is significantly higher than when in a simulated room, which can be interpreted as a result of improved stress levels (Figure 3). The difference in the degree of increase in heart rate between hand wash and cotton pad wash conditions compared to the time in the fine dust simulation room was not significant, but it was confirmed that the effects of stress relief in the cotton wash, which is able see fine dust impurities visually, were higher when combined with the subjective survey conducted in emotional adjective study. Even with intuitive content that is easy to expect, consumers' satisfaction or understanding of products and efficacy can be enhanced if invisible sensibilities can be objectified through scientific research.

Figure 1. Flavoring brain wave evaluationFigure 2. Brain wave evaluation results ( t p〈0.1 , *p〈0.05)Figure 3. Fine dust simulation room (above), cardiac variation results by condition (below).
Figure 1. Flavoring brain wave evaluation,
Figure 2. Brain wave evaluation results ( t p〈0.1 , *p〈0.05),
Figure 3. Fine dust simulation room (above), cardiac variation results by condition (below).

Application of Brain Science Research Results of Overseas Beauty Companies

The number of cases in which research results are used in the process of product release is increasing. SHISEIDO has long conducted research on brain science and has published its results in various media, including its homepage (Figure 4). POLA, also a Japanese company, has applied brain science research, naming the mechanism for turning curiosity into beauty as "Brain Crosstalk cycle" (Figure 4). It is said that the research, including MRI, confirmed that brain message materials such as Noradrenalin, Oxytocinoxylin and oxytocin help in the production of skin elasticity factors, have been applied to scent, formulation, and package design. Global perfumery company Givaudan and Symrise are also using brain science research tools to develop scents. It is mainly used to secure emotional benefits for functional scents, and presentations by papers and related academic societies are also active. In Korea, there are many restrictions on directly expressing the results of the brain science technology application in the cosmetics field, making it difficult to directly expose or promote the technology. However, as consumer demand for emotional effects is increasing and related technology is being upgraded, we expect more domestic application cases.

Emotional Measurement Content Delivers Differentiation Experience

On the other hand, it is possible to communicate with brain science through hands-on experience contents that consumers can experience in the field. The form of shopping is rapidly shifting from offline to online, and the recent trend of putting experience before possesion is leading to the rapid spread of hands-on stores. In the beauty industry, experiences such as smelling scents and using products directly act as an important step before deciding on a purchase. By combining brain science technology, we will be able to meet the diverse needs of consumers in a way that maximizes this sensory experience. The beauty lounge "Amore Seongsu," operated by Amore Pacific, also serves as a playground where consumers can experience the product naturally, rather than directly selling the product, it has drawn great attention from Millennial generation. Another trend in the beauty industry, the demand for customized cosmetics, is also increasing the value of such content. Consumers' demand for customized cosmetics that fit their skin will continue to rise in the future, and the use of brain science technology to identify emotional reactions will provide a detailed and differentiated experience. In fact, the domestic and foreign beauty industries are scrambling to develop personalized care using the latest technologies such as AI and big data, and the upgraded technologies can be checked at the annual CES. AMOREPACIFIC also conducted an experience-based content test that combines brain science technology. Last year, IOPE Skinweek operated a brainwave measuring booth to check the emotions caused by incense in real time. This year, we conducted a theme study through the IOPE lab to enhance the service and suggest customized scents (Figure 5). GUERLAIN also recently conducted a service called ‘Mindscent’, which recommends perfumes that cause the most positive emotions through brain waves measurement. Although it is still in its early stages, the area of opportunity for Neuromarketing will also gradually expand in the beauty industry, where demand for customized cosmetics and hands-on content is increasing.

Expected Effects of Brain Science and Technology Utilization

A comprehensive understanding of beauty is important because of the nature of the beauty industry. The acceptance of beauty causes positive emotion and can be connected to product preference and decision. This series of processes happens in the middle of nowhere, and we often encounter many difficult moments to express in words for special reasons. The development of brain science technology has led to a series of research results on higher cognitive mechanisms such as emotion and judgment, and it will soon be possible to interpret complex emotions from a concrete and scientific perspective. If we take advantage of this technology, we will be able to take a step closer to understanding the beauty and the consumer's mind.

Figure 4. Brain Science Research Application Product Launch Case Shiseido (left), Polar (right)Figure 5. Brain science technology grafting consumer experience content. IOPE SKINWIKE (left), IOPE LAB (right)
Figure 4. Brain Science Research Application Product Launch Case Shiseido (left), Polar (right),
Figure 5. Brain science technology grafting consumer experience content. IOPE SKINWIKE (left), IOPE LAB (right).


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