Aveda Firming Face Creme: experiential pleasure and great marketing over function
I just read Marta’s very scientific review of Aveda’s Firming Face Creme and there is nothing I could usefully add about the ingredients. There is little doubt about their quality (and originality) although, as always, we know neither relative quantities nor the process of getting there. However, testing this cream allows me to raise two points I have had on my mind for a while.
The AVEDA website has an amazing selection of about 80 reviews of that cream. This is amazing because the collection started only 10 months ago, an apparent groundswell of women rising up for their Aveda cream. This is also amazing as 97% are positive, indeed only 3 reviews gives it less than 4 stars out of 5… So, for me, there are only two possibilities: the cream is the best product ever or Aveda’s marketing department is insultingly believing that posting only positive reviews is somehow a convincing trick.
First, and in line with Marta’s assessment, I would agree that the cream is rather good product; to be more precise, it is a real pleasure to use. Most reviews concur on the thick but not fat texture and on the mild, pleasant scent (what a reviewer called “a wonderful mini aromatherapy moment”). Applying the cream is almost luscious, absorption is very fast and the skin is left nicely dry, not greasy, heavy or shiny. This is such a change from many cheap moisturizers. Furthermore it leaves the face noticeably soft.
The effectiveness of the moisturizing is not lasting though… after only a few minutes, one feels the need to go back and “top it up”: and thus, again and again, many times over the morning, especially when I tried this cream as a potential aftershave moisturizer. As to whether the cream actually firms up the face and neck, the truth is truly in the eyes of the beholder: if one likes the feel of the cream, one will try to be convinced on its effectiveness. Any rational observer would be hard pressed to notice much besides the nice, but short lived, matting impact. To quote another reviewer: “I applied this product along with its trusty serum sidekick for a period of about 3 weeks and have yet to notice any radical or even significant improvement”.
Which leads me to the first point I wanted to offer for your analysis: buying a product from a large, high-end, established brand with a clear market positioning generally delivers a minimum threshold of quality. I will call this the “big player’s glass-floor”: the product will never be much worse than your lowest expectations. For instance, if Aveda says it is green and good, then, indeed, its products tend to be greenish and provide the feeling of goodness. Whether, they work or not is almost besides the point. In my continuing reviews, I will test whether this law of the business of cosmetics holds true.
The second possibility raised by the amazing reviews on the Aveda website is that the marketing department believes it is the right thing to do. Obviously, it is about brand positioning, but I would say that it should also be about respect of the consumers.
In the “terms and conditions” of the site, they state – predictably – that they can do whatever they want with your submission: “copy, use, reproduce, modify, adapt, translate, publish, license, distribute, sell or assign the Submission in any way as we see fit, including but not limited to copying in whole or in part, creating derivative works from, distributing and displaying any Submission in any form, media, or technology […], or using the Submission within or in connection with our products or services”. In the “review guidelines”, they add that “feedback […] about product selection, pricing, ordering, delivery, salon/spa/store experience or other customer service issues” do not belong to the reviews. In other words, ‘write publicly about our product and we’ll edit it the way we want; any critic will remain behind the curtain’.
I do not claim to be surprised and I certainly do not think that Aveda is any worse than anyone else. But they do this in such a blunt and blatant way: all reviews are about the same length and tone, all skin types, all age groups, or every reason to use the cream are listed in equal weight, the three token negative reviews are spaced out regularly in time. I am simply asking: “who do they think they are fooling? Won’t readers be skeptical? Won’t they dismiss the whole thing as a disinformation exercise? Isn’t it counter-productive?”
Well… apparently not. Aveda seems to believe that it works like a Buddhist mantra: the more times you utter the same words, the more people will believe it… And it works: Aveda charges an amazing $55 for a 1.7oz of this nice, harmless and mostly useless cream. The company founders sold Aveda to Estee Lauder in 1997 for $300m in cash: that is five and a half million pots of Aveda’s Firming Face Cream! Congratulations and keep editing the reviews.