Paulina Han

Degree Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 5-1-2009

Capstone Advisor

Professor Carla Lloyd

Honors Reader

Professor Diane Grimes

Capstone Major


Capstone College

Public Communications

Audio/Visual Component


Capstone Prize Winner


Won Capstone Funding


Honors Categories


Subject Categories

Advertising and Promotion Management | Public Relations and Advertising


Women today have become desensitized to the massive clutter of cosmetic advertisements. In order to compete in the overly saturated market, cosmetic marketers need to start taking a different approach in making cosmetic advertisements appeal to women. The method used for this thesis project was secondary research; past experiments and case studies on women and advertising were examined and analyzed. Many of these were done by psychologists in the field of advertising and organizations and published in places such as the Journal of Advertising Research. Advertising and creative briefs from advertising agencies were also examined, in part, with other work. Cosmetic advertisements from the past were also examined to explore the transitions and changes that cosmetic advertising has undergone in the 20th century.

With over thousands of different cosmetic advertisements, all with perfectly air-brushed models and celebrities, it has become extremely difficult for women to connect cosmetic advertisement with specific brands. In order to break through the clutter of cosmetic advertisements and build a connection with women, cosmetic marketers need to understand the lifestyle, needs and wants of modern women. Over the 20th century, cosmetic companies used the common technique of targeting women’s insecurities by making them feel they need the product in order to look beautiful, like the models in the ad campaigns. Research reveals that this technique is no longer effective in convincing women to purchase the product. Women have become very discontented with cosmetic advertisements and feel that they portray an unrealistic lifestyle of the modern day women. Women have also become desensitized to advertisements with models and celebrities, and know that they could never look like these models, no matter what product they use. Marketers of cosmetics need to understand the kind of lifestyles that women live today, and to find ways to connect and relate to women. If cosmetic companies want their advertisements to get noticed, and want women to purchase their products, they must do more than just put a perfect face and body on the advertisements.

Many psychologists in the field of advertising and organizations, such as those published in the Journal of Advertising Research, have conducted research on women’s perceptions of advertisements. Cosmetic marketers must devise advertisements and campaigns that portray women and their lifestyles in a realistic way. Women respond to advertisements and campaigns that they feel are realistic, and, most importantly, that they can relate to. Some cosmetic companies have already started taking this approach by creating advertisements that make women feel comfortable in their own skins. Cosmetic companies must also focus on creating products and advertisements that target ethnic women. These women desire products that are designed to meet their specific needs, but have limited choices, or none at all.

With the changes in women’s role in society, the needs and wants of women have also changed. In order to make their brands and products appeal to these women, cosmetic marketers must try to understand their lifestyles, as well as their ways of thinking. Empathy is now the key to connecting with women through advertisements.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.



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