Abstract been little research, to the authors’ knowledge,


The beauty and cosmetics trade are a valuable and
significant global industry. According to Forbes, the beauty industry is worth
$445 billion (Forbes, 2017). It is a very competitive industry and offers great
opportunities for new entrants and other competitors (Ramli, 2017). Today, many
makeup and cosmetic brands have a specific target market, but most of them
target the female consumer, based on the products. However, this industry is
constantly changing due to factors such as globalization, changes in the market
and specific demands. Due to these changes, innovation is very important for
cosmetic brands to assure that both men and women consumers’ needs are met
(Ramli, 2017). According to Belk (1988), the consumer views a brand as an
extension of one’s self-image and worth. Brands function as main drivers that
construct the consumers’ identity (Fournier, 1998).

While there is an extensive range of academic
literature on the cosmetic industry and branding, there has been little
research, to the authors’ knowledge, on how the effect of branding and
packaging in specific makeup products can affect the consumer’s choice of

This dissertation aims to address this literature
gap by conducting four focus groups to gather in-depth information on their
opinions on the packaging and branding of the consumers cosmetic purchases.
This dissertation will focus on women’s makeup products particularly eyeshadow
palettes and powder/ highlighters only as Ramli (2017) has stated that the
female consumer is the main target audience for cosmetics.

Words: Makeup industry, brand identity, packaging design,
makeup products, cosmetic purchases, female consumer, Ireland, branding.


Literature Review

following literature review aims to support the
academic value of this dissertation by building upon the theoretical
discussions around the makeup industry, branding and packaging and the female


The makeup industry is a major
contender in today’s global economy, it is competitive yet offers new entrants
the chance to be part of a thriving economy. It is one of the industries that
survived the global crisis and continues to cultivate. The Irish makeup
industry is currently in an incline after financial crisis in 2008. Makeup practices began as early as the Neolithic period. (Aytug
the history of makeup applications throughout the ages. From this literature it
is evident that makeup has been an important cultural aspect of the growth of
the beauty industry.

‘Woman charted a path to mass
consumption outside the emerged system of national advertising and
distribution’ (Peiss,
K. 2011)

cosmetics industry became popular post WW I with the growing acceptance of
beautifying blossomed into a mass market for cosmetics. In a short time,
cosmetics had become affordable to most consumers. In 1929 Robert Lynd a
sociologist estimated that Americans were spending 700 million dollars a year
on both cosmetics and beauty services. Thus, starting businesses exploitation
of femininity. There was diminished suspicion of cosmetics by promoting beauty
care as a set of practices. Post WW2 business women ‘Esteé Lauder’ and ‘Mary
Kay Ash’ changed beauty culture into a culture of shared meanings.            



History of Cosmetics

Fashion symbolising began in
Ancient Egypt it set hierarchical structures in society. Pale skin was highly
idolised in early cultures dating back to the Middle Ages (A.D.
476-1453) this is when the practice of ‘face painting’ became popular. Face
painting and patch continued in 18th Century. English women to use and
intoxication lead to whitening their faces continued. French women, however,
were using an intensive red colour. French court instance based on the higher
forms, hairs, wood and iron cage of shaped and powder were used. (Swinfield,
1999: 96) Make up has always been important to females of every
culture. Package design only became important to consumers when Tupperware came
into existence in the 1940s. Plastics have played an integral role
in smart packaging solutions
that help us do more
with less and thus contributed to the repackaging of cosmetics in the
industry. Cosmetic companies were now using two types of packaging, primary and
secondary. Primary packaging was the vessel that the product was contained in
and the secondary packaging was now introducing competitive labelling into the
cosmetic industry. This was the start of brand competition within the cosmetic

Introducing Branding and Packaging             

Ambrose (2017) states that
packaging is how the product is protected and transported but we buy into the
design of the packaging not the protection of the product. The labels on the
product act as a canvas to design and communicate information (Ambrose 2017).
By referring to these studies there will be a concise understanding of how
packaging is used to seduce the consumer when making purchasing decisions.
Every makeup product is labelled because of the contents that are concealed
within them as there is obligatory information that the cosmetic product must
show. There are many speculations that consumers have started to buy makeup
products just because they are highly promoted and branded. There is a hype
about new releases and getting the product when it first releases, be it online
or in store. Stocks are usually limited in higher end makeup products which
means they sell out faster making the consumer watch the brand closely for
their next restock. These higher end products normally have sleek and beautiful
packaging which the consumer admires and then posts to social media creating a
‘free advertisement’ for the brands company. This is noticeable on social media
platforms such as Instagram. This is a new type of consumer-generated
media that “describes a variety of new sources of online information that are
created, initiated, circulated and used by consumers intent on educating each
other about products, brands, services, personalities, and issues” (Blackshaw & Nazzaro, 2004, p. 2). Vila
& Ampuero (2007) distinguished two areas of packaging elements: graphic
elements (colour, typography, shapes and images) and structural elements (form,
containers and materials). It is important to consider these factors when
examining the makeup products packaging design.

Packaging Design

The value for the cosmetic
packaging industry alone is estimated to be about $170 billion a year,
worldwide and nearly $50 billion in just the United States (Rufus, A. 2010). Over
70% of consumers make their purchasing decisions in stores (POPAI, 1996), 85%
make their decisions after picking up only one item, and 90% make their
decisions after only examining the primary display panel of a package (Clement,
2007). The packaging of a product can influence a consumer
into choosing one product over another therefore it is important to consider
your packaging when trying to sell a product.
During the decision-making process, unique packaging can draw attention,
communicate product benefits and ultimately give a product the chance of
consideration (Silayoi & Speece, 2004) There is a huge visual price
point involved in a packaging design. Simpler packaging is usually viewed as
being more affordable, while more aesthetic or interesting designs imply a
product has higher value. Some people are not always looking for high quality
but rather for a good deal at a lower price. Cosmetic packaging is usually
designed around the products selling value. (Hill, A. 2011) states that
considering the packaging design plays a crucial role when displaying a brand.
Hill believes that it is typically the first thing a consumer interacts with in
a brand experience. In fact, packaging can be the sole influencer in a
consumer’s purchase decision. Hill said even for this reason, small companies
will often invest heavily in their product packaging when compared to other
parts of a brand campaign. She suggests that the strongest packages are
authentic expressions of the brand personality and speak clearly to the audience
or consumer. If the consumer feels as if a package is speaking directly to them
they are more likely to purchase the product. (Holdway,
Walker and Hilton 2002) state that packaging is used as a marketing vehicle
aiding in communication and recognition of branding. Often coined as the
“silent salesman” on the shelf, packaging informs consumers of product features
and benefits that can be obtained if a certain product is to be consumed.
(Rettie and Brewer, 2000). (Silayoi and Speece 2004) state there
are two main packaging elements that can affect a consumer’s purchasing
decision, Visuals and information. Visual elements include graphic design,
size, shape of the product and the information elements include ingredients and
benefits of the product. However visual processing
is said to be more effective than information processing.
(Deng. X, 2009).


Branding is how a company wants to identify
itself. A company will often use branding strategy as a means of communicating
its identity and value to consumers and their competition. Through brand
identity, a company seeks to convey its individuality and distinctiveness to
all its relevant publics (Kapferer, J.
2012). According to (Harris
and de Chernatony 2001). brand identity is made up of the following

– brand vision

– brand culture

– positioning

– personality

– relationships

– presentations.

Brand vision is
why your brand is in existence, it can represent values in your brand and along
with brand culture it can provide direction and guidance. Brands positioning is
where it stands in the market for example what makes it unique in comparison to
other competing brands. This can be considered when comparing different makeup products
that all claim to do the same thing. Personality represents the emotional
characteristics of the brand. When looking at makeup products the emotion can
be how the female consumers are made feel when they use a brands product i.e.
do they feel better about themselves. Relationships can be a crucial element in
building a brand. Companies need to make sure they are communicating with their
costumers and their competition to make sure they stay relevant and relatable
to their fans. This is especially important in the makeup industry when there
are constantly new competitors releasing similar products and sometimes even at
cheaper prices. Finally, presentation styles are created to show of the brands
identity, this has become much easier with the use of social media platforms to
promote their brand and its identity. Branding in makeup has been crucial for
the growth of companies. Most companies now rely heavily on ‘beauty
influencers’ to rate their products on social media platforms such as YouTube,
Snapchat and Instagram. This type of ‘advertising’ allows the consumer to
believe they are buying a product that someone they trust is recommending to
them rather than buying a product based on an ad in a magazine. Makeup brands
need to remain consistent and keep up to date with current trends to stay
relevant in the beauty industry (J.
Kapferer 2003)  states that any company can sell goods but
their brand is what conveys their uniqueness against their competitors which in
essence keeps them in business. Logos and packaging can help identify a brands product.
Benefit cosmetics are highly recognised for their package design, everything
they sell is packaged beautifully and thus attracts consumers to buy their product
even if the product itself doesn’t have the highest rating amongst its competitors.

The female

According to (Warner
female consumer is a highly influential consumer sector in the American market.
Globally woman drive the economy controlling about 20 trillion dollars annually
in consumer spending. 
Considering this information this dissertation aims to focus on women
only. (Granot et
al 2010)
that the female consumer has a structured decision-making process
for example the product or brand must have an emotional significance to the
female consumer. Females are highly susceptible to manipulation by the media
and thus brands can play on these emotions to sell their products. Many female
consumers of all ages and social status are highly encouraged to keep up with
fashion trends (Warner 2005). Therefore when makeup trends change and evolve
the brands and companies need to make sure they meet the demands of their
female consumer because without their loyalty their business would fail.
(Granot et al 2010) shows that the female participants in their study show
enjoyment with their relationships with specific brands.

Men and women have different brain structures so when women
began having more decision power in the workplace there
was clearly a contrast between men and woman’s decision-making process. This
led to studies of both the male and female brains. It was found that men had
6.5 times more gray matter and women had 10 times more white matter. Gray
matter characterizes information processing and white matter connects these parts
of the brain. Neither brain preforms better or worse but does have implications
on how decisions are made. Typically, men are task orientated. They enter a shop
with a need and leave with the product within 30 minutes. Whereas women shop
with more of an open mind meaning it takes them longer to choose a product but
there is generally a higher satisfaction result. Makeup companies must consider
that women generally don’t enter a shop to buy the first cosmetic product they
see, women will shop around. This is when brands need to get clever and
establish what makes their product better than the same product in the shelf
next to theirs.

Cosmetic Consumers

consumer does not compare advantages and disadvantages of each makeup product on every occasion,
but is led by previous experiences and acts out of habits. Only when the
consumer really takes the time to value a new product does consider factors
such as design, price, usability and package quality. Consumer is the ultimate user of every product,
without any consumer there is no market as such (Baker, 2004). The
consumer should be seen as the decider of a company. When consumers have had no
experiences with a product, they tend to trust a well-known brand name.
Consumers often think well-known brands are better and are worth buying for the
implied assurance of quality dependability, performance and services.
(Schiffman, Kanuk, 2009) Therefore many older generations of women tend to buy
the same brands they’ve bought for years that younger women tend to sway from. This sense of loyalty keeps brands in
business but eventually they will need to try grab the attention of younger
consumers. Many consumers view a low price for low quality which advertisers
and marketers realise. Makeup products tend to be marketed at a price that is
considered a splurge for some consumers but not priced too high that its
unaffordable to the masses. This marketing technique gives the consumer the
belief that their product is of higher quality. (Mullen, B. and Johnson, C.


The purpose of this review is to view the trends in the
cosmetic industry and help the reader understand different aspects of research in
areas such as branding, packaging and the female consumer. There is significant
studies and literature considering each of these elements but there is no
extensive research to the authors knowledge combining each of these points particularly
focused in Ireland in the Greater Dublin Area (GDA). This research aims to be unique
yet relevant to each of the works outlined above. In light of the research conducted
there will be an interesting discussion on how the female consumer interacts with
packaging design of makeup products and how a company’s overall brand can influence
the female consumers buying decisions. This study aims to find out whether branding
and packaging in the cosmetic industry is an important element to the female consumer.