Mark Dolliver: When a Pollster Calls

Each culture has its own notions of beauty, but vanity is the common property of all mankind. We find fresh confirmation of this in a 45-country survey by The Nielsen Co. (which owns Adweek). Actually, many people claim they feel pushed to pay attention to their looks: 72 percent agreed that there’s more pressure now than in their parents’ time for people to look good. Whatever the impetus, 30 percent of global respondents said they spend “much more than I used to on beauty products and treatments.” And many would like to spend even more, as the chart below indicates. Modern vanity entails an expenditure of significant time as well as money. For example, 64 percent “invest in daily, weekly or monthly hair care,” and 53 percent engage in a skin-care regime this often. People in their 20s are the most likely to say they “invest in personal grooming because it makes me feel better about myself,” with more than seven in 10 holding that view. Even among those age 65-plus, though, that feeling is shared by 52 percent. Price is the factor that influences the greatest number of consumers in their choice of health and beauty products, cited by 60 percent, with “the product’s promise” lagging behind (49 percent). Perhaps the importance of price encourages consumers to believe the cheaper stuff is as effective as the more expensive products. At any rate, 90 percent of the survey’s American respondents agreed that “mass-market hair-care products are just as good as the premium, expensive alternatives.” Eighty-seven percent said that’s true of skin-care products, and 84 percent said the same about cosmetics.