I was lucky in the fact that I was able to use beauty blogs as the main focus of my Dissertation. In order to relate it back to Marketing, I looked at their influence in relation to the Consumer Buying Process. For anyone unsure on what this is, it’s shown below.
I broke down my research findings into each stage, looking at the level for influence. I used an online questionnaire, which if you have been reading my blog for a while, will have probably completed for me. I shared the questionnaire through my blog, as well as via Twitter. I ended up with around 200 respondents, which I was happy with at the time, so thanks if you were one of them!
In all honesty, I’m not sure how interesting you’ll find this, but I thought with you choosing to read or write your own blogs, this may be useful to know. Personally, I love looking at the influence of social media, blogs and YouTube have on todays consumer – yes, I am a loser.
My justification for carrying out this research was of course, my interest in the subject, but when carrying out research before hand, there was nothing about beauty blogs. Blogs in general had been researched, and the BBC had shown great interest in the influence of YouTubers like Zoella, but nothing about how beauty blogs specifically are influential.
Each person will pass through the Consumer Buying Process differently, depending on who they are, their budget, how much time they have to make the purchase, and the type of product/service they’re looking to purchase. My argument was that although beauty products are relatively inexpensive in comparison to a new car, consumers still carry out information searches with there being a level of perceived risk with the purchase.
Before starting my research I created research aims, and discussed the findings in relation to each.
To identify the importance of conducting an information search when looking to purchase beauty products.
The findings supported the views of many theorists, who emphasise the importance of conducting an information search before purchase. Whilst it was rated hugely important by all respondents, those aged 30-39 saw it to be most important. I used secondary research which suggested that at this age, consumers are at the peak of their financial responsibilities, and whilst they may earn more than those aged 18-20 (who viewed an information search as less important), they have less disposable income for beauty products.
Although only 2.24% of respondents were male and therefore results can’t be generalised to a wider population accurately, all male respondents gave the importance of an information search the lowest score. This would suggest that when looking at beauty products for themselves (including skincare), they don’t conduct any research, and move straight to purchase.
The findings also suggest that high end items, such as a £15.50 MAC lipstick have a greater element of perceived risk, and will require a more extensive information search than one from MUA which costs £1. This has been supported by a similar piece of research carried out in India.
To analyse the influence of beauty blogs when seeking information about a product
Simply, blogs were the most important source when respondents are looking to conduct an information search. This shows that not only are they used by consumers, but they are favoured over information which comes directly from the company. This supports research which has been carried out, suggesting that blogs are more credible as they are independent from corporate controlled media and therefore aren’t influenced by the company. Messages from blogs are the bloggers own thoughts and opinions and respondents can relate to them (unless their blog is full of PR samples and they’re clearly just in it for the freebies).
To identify the importance of evaluating alternative beauty products when looking to make a purchase
Research suggests that consumers use different approaches when passing through this stage of the process, but as I’ve bored you enough, I won’t go into it. The findings from my piece of research suggested that evaluating alternative beauty products is important, but not viewed as important as the initial information search. This suggests that once consumers have conducted an information search, they’ll either purchase the item or finish the process by not purchasing. Again, those respondents aged 30-39 viewed this stage more important than other respondents, suggesting that they feel more comfortable about a purchase having passed through all stages of the process, completing them thoroughly.
To explore what make beauty blogs a credible source for respondents seeking information
As touched on before, respondents viewed blogs to be a more credible source as information coming directly from a company. This is due to the fact that a company NEED consumers to purchase in order to make a profit, where as bloggers simply don’t (unless part of affiliate schemes or sponsored blah blah). There has been research to suggest that bloggers can create an emotional bond with readers as they relate to the messages, which would add to their credibility.
To explore whether respondents purchase products based on blog reviews
I enjoyed this question a little too much, I wanted to know what people had bought based on blog reviews and there were over 50 different products listed. The majority of the 50 products appeared more than once, with the UD Naked 3 palette being most purchased due to blogs. Other products included MAC lipsticks, Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish and a number of other products subject to ‘blogger hype.’ This shows that readers actually purchase things based on you reviews/rambles.
So this turned into a ramble, didn’t it? Baring in mine my dissertation was 10,000 words I think I’ve done well to keep it to around 1,000 for this post. Basically, the conclusion I drew up was that consumers are heavily influenced by beauty blogs when passing through each stage of the consumer buying process. Of course, I only looked at around 200 respondents and this wouldn’t exactly be an accurate sample of the population, but I think it proves that we do have a little bit of influence over what people buy, and how they collect their information. The research may be biased as the sample I used do read beauty blogs anyway, if I had stood in Chester with a clipboard and stopped random people, I would have probably got a completely different result. BUT, it is still a piece of research and it valid regardless of it’s limitations.
You could completely disagree with what I’ve found, and think beauty blogs are a load of crap. But I thought I’d share with everyone what I found as I find it really interesting, and although there are 1000000’s of people out there saying ‘blogs have been done, they’re all the same’, they’re influencing people, and for me, it’s pretty amazing.
I’d LOVE your opinions if you actually read all of this?!