Hey guys, It’s Audrey! Long time, no see! That’s what happens when you’re stuck in your deep, dark writing cave. So many deadlines pending, it’s crazy– but here’s a little snippet from one project I’m working on. Y’all know I can get wordy, so just bear with me. (Making my writing do a little double-duty here, lol) Oh yes! My Dr. Oz show appearance will be this Friday, Dec. 13. If you miss it, they’ll also post it online. =D
What Kind of Shopper are You?
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how we buy our hair care products. Although our hair type and texture play a role in determining the types of products that work best for us, product selection goes beyond our hair’s physical characteristics. It’s amazing how our product choices can give clues about who we are, what we need, and even what we believe and value. (At least, it’s pretty interesting to me!) For example, it would be difficult to convince a consumer who desires only 100 percent organic hair care products that fragrance or sulfates in a product are acceptable, or to convince someone who is concerned most about cost and convenience that they need to drive around the city to a specific store and pay a few extra dollars to get a certified organic shampoo when there’s a 99-cent shampoo at the store down the street that works just fine. The type of consumer we are also influences the way we view and interpret research risks and claims.
Product companies know this, too . . . and often, they exploit it. This is why ingredient labels are manipulated as much as they are. Some companies cleverly rearrange ingredients to boost the ranking of some ingredients (usually botanicals) and push down other less desirable ones. Some rename ingredients or list them as exotic “complexes or blends” to hide them, and the worst offenders simply leave off what they don’t want you to see– entirely. Shady marketing causes some of us to purchase products that are at odds with the type of consumer we strive to be.
Here are the 4 basic consumer types I’ve come across in healthy hair care circles. Keep in mind that buying behavior is complex. You may easily fit into more than one category depending on the situation! Which type of product shopper are you? Passionate, Engaged, Explorer or Opportunist?
—1. The Passionate Buyer —
You have strong beliefs about the types of products you are willing to buy. You are a shopper who questions every last product detail, and you do not compromise. You wholeheartedly agree with the idea that natural is best, and your commitment to these kinds of products is total. Not only do you seek out organic/natural products—you thoroughly research to find which brands are the most green, ethical or sustainable. You tend to not trust “natural” or “organic” labels on their own merit. You like to look behind the label and find out how natural or how organic the product or ingredient is.
You & Marketing: You do quite a bit of research into your products before buying. You are not easily swayed by marketing gimmicks—unless there is a compelling science angle. Unlike most types of consumers, you are very picky about where you get your information. You rely very heavily on peer-reviewed research studies and science-based sources of information. You are hesitant to trust online sources unless they reference other vetted sources. You rarely, if ever, get product information from family and friends because you are usually the go-to person on these matters!
You & Risks: You tend to have more product ingredients on your “banned list” than other types of customers. If there’s research about certain ingredients, you are definitely aware of it. When research about product ingredients is conflicting—you err on the side of caution and focus on risks.
You & Natural Products: You only buy products that are natural, certified organic or homemade—unless you have no other choice. Price and accessibility are not dealbreakers for you, and you don’t mind spending extra for something you believe is safer or healthier. You are more likely than other groups to extend your passionate streak into other areas of your life (i.e. cosmetics, food, household products). You will abandon a product that works for you if it turns out to be less natural than you thought it was. You won’t even think twice. Better safe than sorry.
—2. The Engaged Buyer—
You are the type of buyer who questions product details and investigates claims, but you tend to be more flexible about what you are willing to accept than Passionate Buyers. You wholeheartedly agree with the idea that natural is best, and your commitment to these kinds of products is pretty strong. You seek out organic/natural products, and you tend to trust most “natural” or “organic” labels on their own merit.
You & Marketing: Like Passionate buyers, you do quite a bit of research into your products before buying. You are not easily swayed by marketing gimmicks—unless there is a compelling science angle. You take in information from all kinds of sources—blogs you frequent, favorite online gurus, books and peer reviewed research studies. You tend to not rely too heavily on family and friends for advice—because often, you are the go-to person for them anyway.
You & Risks: Like Passionate buyers, you also have a “banned list,” but it is not nearly as long. When research into ingredient risks is conflicting—you tend to err on the side of caution and focus on risks—but this depends on the ingredient/product and how easy it is for you to avoid it.
You & Natural Products: As an Engaged buyer, you have high product standards, but you do not buy natural products all the time. Price and accessibility will definitely influence what you buy. You may abandon something that works for you if you find out it’s not as natural as you thought—but if the problem product performs better than other products you’ve tried, letting go is hard for you.
—3. The Explorer Buyer—
You are the type of buyer who questions product details only occasionally. You tend to agree with the idea that natural is desirable, but your commitment to these kinds of products is flexible. You don’t seek out organic/natural products, but you’ll buy one if it’s easy to do so. You tend to trust “natural” or “organic” labels on products.
You & Marketing: Product research is not necessarily a regular part of your product shopping experience, but because you’re savvy, you tend not to fall for obvious marketing gimmicks. Unfortunately, you are more likely than Passionate and Engaged buyers to fall for more cleverly packaged gimmicks and marketing. You tend to get your information from family and friends, blogs you frequent and gurus you’ve come to trust.
You & Risks: Many times you aren’t even aware that there are debates about certain product ingredients. If you have a “banned list,” it’s short and sometimes you still break your own rules. When you do know about risks, you may or may not err on the side of caution. It just depends on how easy it is for you to make the changes. You think about risks, but to you, everything has risks.
You & Natural Products: You like, and are impressed by, natural products, but you only buy natural on a case-by case basis. You decide for yourself how natural you want to go based on the product claims, price and your needs. You’re probably not going to abandon something that works really well for you just because it’s not natural. That is, unless you have a really compelling reason to do so!
—4. The Opportunistic Buyer—
You are the type of buyer who only rarely, if ever, questions product details. You are all about simplicity, so this whole researching products thing probably isn’t a big deal to you. You are just happy if a product works as intended. You tend to agree with the general idea that natural is desirable, but you don’t feel obligated to purchase this way. Like Explorers, you don’t seek out organic/natural products, but you may buy one if it’s easy to do so. You don’t question “natural” or “organic” labels on products.
You & Marketing: You are more likely than other groups to follow product trends and you tend to trust whatever the bottle says. You are even more trusting of what friends, family and your favorite social media gurus say—and this is where you get most of your product information and research. Unfortunately, your tendency to trust and let others do the research for you makes you an easy target for gimmicks and clever marketing.
You & Risks: Banned list? What banned list? You simply don’t bother with ingredient restrictions, unless they directly impact the way a product performs on your hair. Even then, you are likely to blame problems on the brand before you isolate it to ingredients. When research into product ingredients is conflicting—you may or may not err on the side of caution. You tend to think that most risks are just blown out of proportion anyway.
You & Natural Products: When it comes to natural products, you’ll buy them if they are affordable and easy to find, but you don’t actively look for them. You’re probably not going to abandon something that works for us just because it’s not natural.
No Right or Wrong Kind of Buyer
So, we all value different things and our tolerance level for certain product characteristics varies widely. Always remember that there is no right or wrong kind of buyer- and these are just generalizations. You make the rules that make sense for you and your family’s lifestyle and values. One thing we can all agree on is that what makes sense for one may not make sense for another. Some people just don’t have the money for or the access to the kinds of products they’d ideally like to purchase. For others, it’s just not that serious to begin with!
Personally, I am mostly an Engaged Buyer when it comes to hair care products . . . but I lean more toward the Passionate side when it comes to food. I’m definitely not a purist, nor am I perfect. I also have some things in life that I make exceptions for (and things that would totally make me a hypocrite buyer, haha!)– and that’s fine, too. So, do you see yourself up there? What kind of buyer are you?