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Using online reviews for beauty industry competitive analysis

By Maddy Croke, Senior Account Manager

In the constantly evolving and innovating beauty market, there are always new products with fancy scientific ingredients hitting the shelf. Skincare with added Vitamin C has long been proven to even out skin tone, tackle pigmentation and brighten complexion, and products including this ingredient drastically range in price – anything from $200 a bottle down to a few dollars.

Brands use Relative Insight to power their competitor analysis and customer insights efforts and understand the industry landscape. Competitor analysis arms brands with a robust understanding of their unique strengths and weaknesses in comparison to competitors or the larger industry.

Relative Insight’s text analysis technology highlights the statistically significant topics, grammar, phrases, words and emotions that are more prevalent in one textual data set compared to another. I wanted to use this capability to conduct a beauty industry competitive analysis and see if an expensive product really does mean you are buying a better, more effective boost of Vitamin C in the eyes of beauty consumers.

To do this, I chose three brands representing various price points – SkinCeuticals, Paula’s Choice and All Natural Advice. I then compared thousands of beauty reviews about each of their hero Vitamin C products left on Amazon to see how each stacked up.

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Vitamin C

SkinCeuticals has long been a cult favorite of skincare junkies, but the price tag for their Vitamin C is steep at a whopping $200 dollars a bottle. The beauty industry competitive analysis revealed that consumers tend to mention the steep price tag, but interestingly also mention how they came to purchase such an expensive product because it came heavily recommended by someone they trust. In fact, I saw the word recommended being used 31% more in SkinCeuticals reviews than their cheaper competitors.

Insight card - Amazon SkinCeuticals recommended by friend

Consumers also placed a huge emphasis on purchase intent and results. Many talked about how they are willing to splurge on more expensive products when they notice a change in their skin’s overall health and glow. Phrases such as friends and comments were used 4x more in these reviews, highlighting the prevalence of consumers receiving compliments on the condition of their skin.

In addition, they mentioned the scientific purpose of the product more often, including topics around free radicals and the scientific ingredients of the product infinitely more often.

Insight card - Amazon SkinCeuticals

Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster

The beauty industry competitive analysis also revealed that if you have sensitive or acne-prone skin, it’s better to splurge on a Vitamin C formula that works best for your skin and Paula’s Choice is a great option. The phrase sensitive skin appears significantly in reviews of Paula’s Choice and is completely absent from reviews of its competitors.

Insight card - Paula's Choice

Although these reviews also mentioned the relatively high price for the amount in the bottle, consumers were in agreement that they would rather pay more for a product that doesn’t aggravate their skin.

All Natural Advice Anti-Aging Vitamin C Serum

This Vitamin C serum is “Amazon’s Choice,” and has over 15,000 reviews posted to the product page. Compared to those reviewing more expensive serums, these consumers were less concerned about researching the ingredients and knowing the effectiveness of the product before purchasing it.

In fact, these All Natural consumers are 13 x more likely to talk about how often they buy the product with words such as second, third, again, and new indexing infinitely more in these reviews than for the other two brands – which shows just how much brand loyalty there is out there.

People also LOVE the smell – so it just goes to show that if you fragrance a Vitamin C product with the most famous Vitamin C beneficiary – the orange, then you’re already onto a winner…

Insight card -Amazon vitamin c

This beauty industry competitive analysis helped to understand why people chose a particular product; I could see how they talked about the effectiveness of a product, the intricate specifics of how they justified spending a lot of money if the product was recommended by someone they trust, and how a specific skin condition created a community of reviewers that all agreed on the effectiveness of one beauty product.

This approach to competitor analysis is valuable for beauty brands needing to understand their followers. It gives brands new ways to target their audience, a better understanding of what drives them to purchase and uncovers insights that could be used in product innovation. By understanding all this, a brand can tailor its marketing and comms strategy to inspire, delight and ultimately drive more sales, as well as create products that meet the customers’ needs.

Text analysis in action