To the uninitiated, all makeup may look the same. However, a true makeup enthusiast understands each brand’s unique character and value proposition.

Three of our top five growth brands in the personal care industry from Q3 to Q4 2022 were makeup manufacturers (determined by QuestBrand brand equity growth) – Estée Lauder (+6.0), Fenty Beauty (+3.4), and E.L.F Cosmetics (+3.3). While all three of these cosmetics brands shared impressive quarter-over-quarter growth, they each have distinct personalities that appeal to different consumers.

Using QuestBrand data, we’re taking a look at how female consumers feel about these three brands, and comparing their emotional attributes with two other leading forces in the cosmetics space – Revlon and L’Oréal.

Interested in seeing where the brand rankings originated? Download our Personal Care Industry Snapshot for more brand rankings and industry insights.

Does brand perception matter?

Brand perception captures consumers’ overall feelings towards a brand. How consumers think about a brand influences their purchasing behavior, whether they choose to buy the product or recommend the brand to others. 

Below, we mapped Estée Lauder, Fenty Beauty, E.L.F. Cosmetics, Revlon, and L’Oréal, to see what emotional attributes they own in the cosmetics space.

Women consider Revlon “dependable,” L’Oréal “trustworthy,” Estée Lauder “classy,” Fenty Beauty “unconventional,” and E.L.F. “young.”

Perceptual Map of Leading Cosmetics Companies  

QuestBrand. Base: Female US adults, n= 2,980. 12/24/22-3/23/23. 

Perception impacts brand positioning

Companies must understand how consumers view their brand to appropriately develop and market their products to the correct user.

  • E.L.F. is a favorite with Gen Z, and like this young consumer, the beauty brand embraced TikTok marketing early on. They have had several successful TikTok challenges including #eyeslipsface and #elfmagicact. On the perception map, E.L.F. Cosmetics hovers on the same side as “socially conscious,” reflecting their embrace of social issues, including Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ rights, and animal welfare.
  • In contrast to E.L.F.’s fan base, Estée Lauder’s consumer tends to be a little older, with a higher willingness to pay. Estée Lauder sits in the luxury space, and attracts mature women looking for high-quality, reliable cosmetics
  • Fenty Beauty has pushed beyond the industry norms – with inclusivity at the heart of the brand. Products are designed to match all skin tones – including serving customers with albinism. At launch, Fenty Beauty’s foundation had 40 shades. Today they have 59, truly capturing the nuance of women’s skin tones. While the brand plays in the luxury space, their prices remain affordable.

Estée Lauder may be better served with advertising that upholds their “sophisticated” and “classy” image, while E.L.F. could lean into a more “fun” and youthful campaign. Women see Fenty as “unconventional,” “visionary,” “intelligent,” and “bold” leaving ample room for exciting products and dynamic marketing campaigns.

Emotional Attributes – How Do Women Describe Each Brand?

QuestBrand. Base: Female US adults, n= 2,729. 12/24/22-3/23/23. 

In the chart above, we compare the top ten emotional attributes adult women credit to our three high growth brands – Estée Lauder, Fenty Beauty, and E.L.F. Cosmetics.

Rather than showing what emotional attribute each brand owns, this chart compares the top adjectives that women used to describe each cosmetics brand – furthering our insights into each brand’s reputation, and who each brand appeals to.

While all three brands are described as “stylish,” as a top three adjective, the other two descriptors differ. Women describe Estée Lauder as “classy” and “sophisticated.” They see E.L.F as a “good value” and “young.” Lastly, female consumers think of Fenty Beauty as “bold” and “confident.” 

How would consumers describe your brand’s personality? Request a QuestBrand demo today.


Catherine Ake

Content Strategist

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