Turning consumer biases into added benefits with active ingredients


1. Manager of Behavioral & Marketing Sciences, HCD Research, New Jersey, United States
2. Consulting Director, Health & Wellness Research, HCD Research, New Jersey, United States


From conventional cosmetics to oral care and sexual wellbeing, the personal care industry is continuously expanding into the growing wellness and self-care space. In order to differentiate from other brands in an already crowded space, developers and marketers must find effective ways to connect with the consumer with products that have a real impact on consumer routines and lifestyles. Brands can address consumer priorities and interests with the inclusion of active ingredients to entice consumers and build confidence in buying decisions. Incorporating active ingredients into products to enhance the desired effect requires a favorable consumer perception to determine the true value of the additive. For a product with a commercialized active to be successful, brands must not only address the need but articulate and promote it in a way that consumers are familiar, driving not only the initial checkout but also future repurchases.

Humans develop cognitive biases to survive an ever-changing environment filled with complex situations. These biases, serving as shortcuts to help our decision-making (especially when information is missing or lacking), are what make us human. People make tens of thousands of decisions every day, many of which are made as consumers choose which products to purchase, ingest, apply, or otherwise use.


As consumers making decisions in everyday life – whether to eat this and not that, what vitamins or supplements to take, what ingredients or actives should be included or avoided in personal care routines – product information provided by manufacturers coupled with cognitive biases can result in decisions that ultimately hijack best interests and intentions for health and wellbeing. Besides product advertising, consumers are inundated with information, insights, and opinions from every corner of the world; Instagram influencers, Facebook ‘mommy’ groups, Twitter ‘mobs’ are just a few places on the web where consumers get information – whether that information contains any truth or fact depends on the perceptions, or misperceptions, of others’ expe ...