Rural Consumer Targeting in the Beauty & Cosmetics Industry

When it comes to consumer packaged goods marketing and advertising, especially beauty and cosmetics, the increase in focus on digital media certainly appears to make a lot of sense. In this digital age we have all been a part of, no one has to wonder why digital advertising constitutes more than 35% of L’Oréal’s media investment – and they plan to do more.
Spend ten minutes online researching CPG marketing and what you will find is article after article reinforcing the advantages of digital media and how the best companies are upping their digital game. But when this is the prevailing messaging coming across to marketers, especially young marketers entering the workforce, it’s important to discuss how nuances in consumer behavior might have an impact on what types of media these consumers are most likely to be influenced by. Digital is not always the biggest influencer and there is major case to be made for using direct mail – especially with rural consumers.

Has the Internet Changed the Way Rural Women Shop for Beauty and Cosmetics Products?

According to an NHCS Adult Study, the most-likely age group in rural America to spend a lot of money on beauty and cosmetics products is women 18-24 who over-index by 83%. Here is where things get interesting. According to the same survey, rural women 18-24 are 11% more likely than their urban counterparts to agree that the internet has changed the way they get information about products and services and they’re 21% more likely than the adult population 18+. But the same group of rural women are 4% less likely than their urban counterparts to agree that the internet has changed the way they shop for products and services.

What Could This Mean?

Is it possible that although young rural women get their information about products online, they still are not as likely to purchase online? One survey seems to point in this direction. According to Prosper Insights and Analytics Monthly Consumer Survey for July 2017, 48.5% of adults 18-24 in rural counties do not purchase their skin care and cosmetic products online. This is 13% higher than their urban counterparts, indicating this rural audience isn’t changing their shopping habits.
When we drill down into the numbers to better understand why a young rural consumer would choose a beauty/cosmetics brand, we find they are 9% more likely to say it’s because of price, 8% more likely to say it’s because they buy what’s on sale, and 5% more likely to say it’s because of a coupon. Price is what drives beauty/cosmetic purchases for these rural consumers. They research the product online and pick it up at the store using a coupon to get the best deal. For beauty shoppers, the biggest influencer of all still comes in print form.

What Influences Beauty Product Shoppers the Most?

When beauty product shoppers were asked what influences their purchases the most, 11.1% said blogs, 19.7% said social media, 11.6% said video on mobile device or computer, 28.7% said internet, 30.8% said direct mail, and 64.2% said coupons. This means that, at least in the minds of beauty/cosmetics consumers, direct mail and coupons are the biggest influencers of all.

Precision advertising – How the Data and the Delivery can Impact Your Business

According to the Data & Marketing Association (DMA), 19% of marketers they surveyed planned to decrease usage of direct mail in the coming 12 months, which is consistent with previous annual studies they conducted. These predictions, however, are never fully realized by the DMA’s study participants. Still, there is a sense that miracles can be achieved with a purely digital strategy. Some marketers will tell you that digital communications enable them to test and re-test at a much more rapid pace than direct mail. This makes iterations happen quicker and speeds up the path to growth. Personalization of content and messaging is more rapid, more fluid with digital communications and therefore it makes sense for not only the beauty/cosmetics industry but all types of consumer packaged goods.

If that’s truly the case, and if response rates are any measure of success, then how would they explain the DMA’s 2017 report that direct mail response rates were 1175% higher than social media, 750% higher than paid search, and 750% higher than email? In the same report, direct mail response rates increased year-over-year by 43% and prospect response rates doubled to a 190% increase. Response rates have been higher in the last 2 years than they’ve been since 2003. And this isn’t just response from older age groups – adults 18-21 response rates doubled in 2016.
When using direct mail, data is the real miracle-worker – the beauty of data is that, when you know how to leverage it, marketing efforts can drive real results. As beauty/cosmetics brands explore strategies for precision advertising, they ought to consider ways in which quality data and analytics can not only help optimize digital communications but also direct mail campaigns. There is a reason why direct mail response rates have been so high over the last two years, and there is certainly opportunity to have a stellar, precision-targeted direct mail campaign alongside a stellar, precision-targeted digital campaign. Curious what that would look like? We would love to hear more about what you’re working on and partner with you on your next campaign.
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Data & Marketing Association 2017 Response Rate Report
Data & Marketing Association 2017 Statistical Fact Book
Joseph, S. (2017, August 9). Retrieved from DIGIDAY:
NHCS 2017 Adult Study 12-month
Prosper Insights & Analytics 2017 Monthly Consumer Survey