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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2016  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 229-234  

The enlightenment from Malaysian consumers' perspective toward cosmetic products


Faculty of Pharmacy, International Islamic University , Bandar Indera Mahkota, 25200 Kuantan, Pahang, Malaysia

Date of Submission20-Oct-2015
Date of Decision02-Dec-2015
Date of Acceptance27-Dec-2015
Date of Web Publication22-Jun-2016

Correspondence Address:
Hazrina Hadi
Faculty of Pharmacy, International Islamic University Malaysia, Bandar Indera Mahkota, 25200 Kuantan, Pahang
Malaysia
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0975-7406.174232

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   Abstract 

Backgrounds: Variety of cosmetic products was used in our daily life, yet the amount and types of the cosmetic products used by the consumers were varied, which may be due to the different perspectives held by each of the consumers. Objectives: To explore consumers' perspectives toward cosmetic products. Methods: An interview guide was developed with a set of 12 semistructured questions. Participants in Kuantan, Pahang were recruited via the purposive sampling, and they undergo in-depth face-to-face interviews. All of the interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, and were analyzed via thematic content analysis. Results: For the awareness of cosmetic products, less aware about the cosmetic products in Malaysia were noted among the participants. In terms of perceptions about the cosmetic products, participants expressed positive perceptions toward natural cosmetic products, quality were seen as synonymous with branded products and halal certification. Next, for the attitude toward the use of cosmetic products, participants were influenced by ingredients, product brand, and halal certification. Based on personal experiences, they provide complaints and suggestions for the enhancement of cosmetic products' quality. Conclusions: Participants were found to have less awareness about the cosmetic products in Malaysia. Besides, they realized about the chemical ingredients and halal certification for the cosmetic products. Therefore, they held positive perceptions and practiced positive attitudes toward natural and halal cosmetic products. Finally, adverse reactions from the use of cosmetic products were commonly experienced by the participants, which contributed mainly by the ingredients. Thus, they hoped for serious approached to be enacted to solve this problem.

Keywords: Attitude, Malaysia, natural cosmetic products, perception, qualitative


How to cite this article:
Ayob A, Awadh AI, Jafri J, Jamshed S, Ahmad HM, Hadi H. The enlightenment from Malaysian consumers' perspective toward cosmetic products. J Pharm Bioall Sci 2016;8:229-34

How to cite this URL:
Ayob A, Awadh AI, Jafri J, Jamshed S, Ahmad HM, Hadi H. The enlightenment from Malaysian consumers' perspective toward cosmetic products. J Pharm Bioall Sci [serial online] 2016 [cited 2019 Aug 20];8:229-34. Available from: http://www.jpbsonline.org/text.asp?2016/8/3/229/174232

At the present time, cosmetic industries in Malaysia are very encouraging. A report produced by Euromonitor in 2013 states that the beauty companies have the highest growth potential in the market, especially in South America and Asia countries.[1] Nowadays, cosmetic products were used by all levels of society without considering the gender. However, each of the cosmetic products has its own advantages and disadvantages, yet consumers in Malaysia are still not aware about the matter. Several issues related to cosmetic products in Malaysia were addressed in this study. As a start, most of the consumers were more concerned about their appearance rather than the bad side effects, in which might be happened onto their skin on using the cosmetic product.[2] In addition, the abundance of cosmetic products in the market has caused consumers to become health conscious.[3] For instance, cosmetic products in European countries should be safe for use by consumers under normal conditions, which are stated in the Cosmetics Regulation EC/1223/2009.[4] Unfortunately, there are still a number of cases being reported around the world about undesirable effects from the use of cosmetic products.[5] Aligned with their health awareness, consumers prefer to use natural ingredients in their daily lives including in their cosmetic products. According to Dimitrov et al.,[6] the market value of natural cosmetic products sold in 2007 reached more than 8.5 billion euros. Apart from that, markets for halal cosmetic products in Malaysia are very encouraging at the present time. According to the Population and Housing Census of Malaysia,[7] Islam religion is the most widely professed religion by the Malaysian people with a percentage of 61.3%. The statistics show that the range of halal cosmetic products as another criterion in purchasing cosmetic products can be implemented for the benefits of Muslim consumers in this country. Therefore, this study was carried out with the aim of exploring consumers' perspectives toward the cosmetic products available in Malaysia market.


   Materials And Methods Top


Interview guide development

A total of 12 semistructured questions were used to develop an interview guide in English language based on literature review studies.[7],[8],[9],[10],[11] Subsequently, the interview guide was validated by experts who had expertise in the qualitative and/or cosmeceutical fields. In addition, opinions from the laymen were obtained to ensure the interview guide can be understandable by the consumers from all levels of society. Several changes were made to the questions in order to make them open-ended and semistructured in form. As a result of the use of this type of question, participants will be more relaxed and will tend to give reliable answers throughout the session.[12]

Next, the interview guide was translated by four independent translators into Bahasa Malaysia via multistep translation method.[13],[14],[15] Translation process was carried out because Bahasa Malaysia is an official language of Malaysia country, so it is more understandable by the Malaysian.

The final version of the translated interview guide was piloted among five consumers, and their comments on the interview guide were discussed by the researcher to finalize the interview guide.

Participants

The participants in this study were selected via purposive sampling based on several categories such as age and gender. The saturation point was achieved at the 28th interview, and two more interviews were conducted for confirmation of the themes. Therefore, a total of 30 interviews were conducted in this study. For the inclusion criteria, the participants were required to be (a) 18 years old and above, (b) a Malaysian citizen, (c) consumers of the cosmetic product(s) and (d) able to understand and speak the Bahasa Malaysia language efficiently. On the other hand, participants who did not complete the interview session were classified as meeting the exclusion criterion.

Ethical consideration

This study was carried out with approval from the IIUM Research Ethics Committee (IREC) (http://iiumedic.net/irec/v1/) on April 7, 2015, and the registration number is IREC 417. Before participating in this study, a written consent form was obtained from all participants. The participants were allowed to withdraw from this study at any time and for any reasons without negative effects. The data collected from this study will be kept confidential and anonymously as no personal identification were required.

Data collection and data analysis

A qualitative research approach was adopted to obtain information about consumers' perspectives toward cosmetic products in Kuantan, Pahang; which is located in the East Peninsular of Malaysia. Several public places such as universities and workplaces were used as the venue for this study.

In-depth face-to-face interviews were conducted with the selected participants, and all conversations were recorded in audio. The interviews took approximately 15 min to be completed in each session.

All of the recorded interviews were transcribed into text and translated by the researcher to ensure verbatim accuracy. Then, two other researchers verified the accuracy of transcribed data according to the audio recording. Finally, the data were analyzed via thematic analysis by referring to a study conducted by Ong et al.[16]


   Results Top


Demographic background

The researcher managed to recruit a total number of ten male and twenty female participants with the age ranges from 18 to 55 years old. Most of them were still single (male: n = 6, 60%; female: n = 11, 55%) and lived in urban areas (male: n = 7, 70%; female: n = 15, 75%). Subsequently, majority of the participants is Malay and professed Islam religion (male: n = 9, 90%; female: n = 19, 95%). Besides, Indian participants (male: n = 1, 10%; female: n = 1, 5%) were successfully recruited in this study, and they professed either the Hindu or Christian religion (male: n = 1, 10%; female: n = 1, 5%). For their occupations, most of them worked either in the government or in the private sector (male: n = 4, 40%; female: n = 11, 55%), whereas the other participants consisted of students (male: n = 5, 50%; female: n = 8, 40%) and unemployed individuals (male: n = 1, 10%; female: n = 1, 5%). Finally, a majority of them spent less than RM100 for their cosmetic products on a monthly basis (male: n = 9, 90%; female: n = 18, 90%) [Table 1].
Table 1: Participants' demographic background

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Overall, four themes were emerged from the thematic analysis, and they were supported with verbatim quotations. The participants were coded according to their gender and followed by their reference numbers. For instance, the third female participant was labeled as “F03.”

Theme 1: Awareness of cosmetic products

The awareness about cosmetic products in Malaysia, among the majority of the participants was not satisfying. For instance, they thought color cosmetics (eyeliner and lipstick) were the only category of cosmetic products. Moreover, they were confused about whether or not health supplements such as vitamins were categorized as cosmetic products. Besides, more than half of the participants in both genders were unable to answer correctly about which regulatory body regulates cosmetic products in Malaysia.

“For me, make-up is the only cosmetic product...” (F04)

“Yes, I did not know that deodorant is a cosmetic product...” (M02)

“I'm not sure …” (about the regulatory body for cosmetic products) (M10)

The participants in this study stated that chemical ingredients were commonly used to produce cosmetic products (also known as conventional cosmetic products). Furthermore, they mentioned that some of the chemical ingredients lead to negative effects such as cancer.

“To produce foam, Sodium Laureate Sulfates were used, but they had carcinogenic effects…” (F11)

For the ingredients, the majority of the participants were able to give examples of natural ingredients commonly used to produce cosmetic products such as fruits (avocado), plants (olive oil), and others (sea cucumber, seaweed, and miswak).

Among the 30 participants, 12 of them were aware of the presence of halal certification for cosmetic products. However, half of the male participants were not aware about this issue. Apart from raw materials, the participants stated that the processes of making cosmetic products need to be addressed prior to claim certain cosmetic products were halal.

“Cleanliness in the process of making cosmetic products affects the halal status...” (M01)

“Packaging, such as whether the bottle used is halal or not...” (F018)

Subsequently, the participants were asked about their skin condition. The participants in this study were aware that their skin can be affected by various factors.

“Before this, I had an acne problem because I worked at Meru Klang, in which the atmospheric conditions are bad...” (F02)

Other factors affecting skin condition that were mentioned by the participants are listed below:

  • Environment: (Example: Polluted air, air-conditioned places)
  • Cosmetic Product: (Example: Products which do not suit the skin)
  • Food and Water Intake: (Example: Collagen, drinks lots of water)
  • Health Status: (Example: Stress, age, genetic).


Finally, the use of cosmetic products has its own positive and negative effects. Some of the positive effects mentioned by the participants were their appearance was enhanced, their skin became smooth, and the color of their skin became brighter. However, negative effects (pimples, dry skin, skin rashes, and skin erosion) dominated the participants' answers.

Theme 2: Perceptions related to cosmetic products

More than half of the participants held a positive perception about natural cosmetic products. From their perception, natural cosmetic products were safer than conventional cosmetic products because they caused fewer side effects and did not erode the layers of the skin.

“Natural ingredients will not erode the skin, although it takes them a longer time to achieve the most positive effects…” (F17)

For the product label, nine of the participants held positive perception toward the product label, in which they were completely trusted the product label. However, there were two participants who did not care about the product label, and eight of them did not trust the product label at all. The rest of the participants mentioned that they had positive perception toward the product label, but not completely.

“Labels on cosmetic products can be exaggerated by the manufacturing company…” (M03)

One-third of the participants had a perception about natural cosmetic products were higher in price, compared to conventional cosmetic products. Natural ingredients were hard to find and process, thus a catalyst for an increase in the prices. Eleven of the participants held a perception that conventional cosmetic products were more expensive than natural cosmetic products due to the processes which require a higher cost. Other participants mentioned that a product's price was dependent on the product itself.

“The price is high (for conventional cosmetic products) due to the need for specific research and to meet certain standards…” (M09)

“If the company that produced it has its own brand, it will be expensive regardless of the ingredients used…” (F01)

All of the Muslim participants showed a positive perception toward halal certification and turned into a vital factor for Muslim consumers to consider prior to purchase cosmetic products.

“Sometimes cosmetic products are used by consumers to perform prayers; therefore, the cosmetic product must be halal…” (F09, F01)

Theme 3: Attitudes toward the use of cosmetic products

The majority of the participants preferred to use natural cosmetic products, although they were currently using conventional cosmetic products in their daily lives. Several criteria which influenced their attitudes in purchasing cosmetic products were mentioned by the participants. The majority of them considered the ingredients in cosmetic products as the main criteria. Subsequently, product brand and halal certification play a vital role for consumers in purchasing cosmetic products. Other than the aforementioned criteria, the products' prices, their suitability for the users' skin, testimonies from others, product quality, and accessibility of the products influenced the participants' purchase intentions toward cosmetic products.

“The ingredients used in the cosmetic products, the search for a beautiful product, the color of a lipstick and packaging…” (F20)

“What are more important are the ingredients…” (M07)

“Branded cosmetic products are more persuasive...” (M03)

Participant F13 used nonbranded products because she preferred to use local cosmetic products. Five participants in this study did not really care about the brand, so they could use both kinds of products. There were three participants who checked the quality of a product prior to purchase it because they were more concerned about getting the most appropriate products for their skin and not depending on the brand alone. The rest of the participants used branded cosmetic products for several reasons, including that the products were trustworthy and convincing.

“Branded companies are already established. If anything happens, a consumer can refer back to the company…” (F06)

“A company who manufactured branded cosmetic products has the approval of a certain agency to ensure their product safety…” (F01)

There were nine female participants who were loyal to a certain type of cosmetic products. For the other female participants, they said that it depends on the situation. However, most of the male participants were not loyal to certain cosmetic products. If a product is not available at the time they want to purchase it, they will simply choose another type of product which is similar to the previous cosmetic product they used.

“I only use one type of cosmetic product to avoid any negative effects which may be caused by a new product…” (F14)

“If it is really needed, such as deodorant, it cannot be tolerated, because it can cause body odor…” (F03)

Theme 4: Personal experience in using the cosmetic products

Seven female participants did not experience an adverse reaction from using cosmetic products. However, the rest of the female participants faced different kinds of negative reactions when using cosmetic products. As an example, participant F06 used a complete set of face care products. Unfortunately, a severe breakout of pimples appeared on her face, and she suffered from skin exfoliation. She tried to tolerate the condition for three months, but when she unable to tolerate the condition any longer, she went to a skin beauty expert to solve her problem.

One of the male participants, M09, stated that he used a facial wash, but it did not suit his skin. His skin became dry, and he also suffered from skin exfoliation. Therefore, he stopped using that product, and then, after a period of time, his skin returned to its normal condition.

There were many suggestions and complaints obtained from the participants in this study. Most of them complained about the chemical ingredients used in cosmetic products. They wanted effective preventive measures to be enacted to ensure that the manufacturers follow the rules regarding the chemical ingredients used in cosmetic products. [Table 2] shows further examples of complaints mentioned by the participants.
Table 2: Complaints from the participants

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In terms of suggestions, participant F19 suggested that cosmetic companies should produce advertisements using models that had experienced products from a particular company themselves and had obtained great results. Thus, the efficacy of the cosmetic products will become more trustworthy. Other examples of the suggestions received from the participants are listed in [Table 3].
Table 3: Suggestions from the participants

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   Discussions Top


The level of awareness about cosmetic products in Malaysia was not satisfying among the participants, and they were unable to give definitions of cosmetic products following the Malaysian guidelines. Thus, the amounts and types of cosmetic products used by the participants on a daily basis were not clearly defined. However, based on a survey conducted in 2004, on average, an adult uses nine personal care products each day,[17] and this reflects that various kinds of cosmetic products were used in our daily life. In terms of ingredients, the participants realized that the chemical ingredients used in cosmetic products may produce negative effects to them, but there were no other choices because natural cosmetic products were hard to find and expensive. To overcome this problem, the availability of natural cosmetic products in the market needs to be improved, and their prices must be inexpensive. Given this situation, consumers would rather use natural cosmetic products, compared to conventional cosmetic products.[18] With respect to halal certification, Muslim participants in this study agreed that cosmetic products should have halal certification. Today, the halal market is worldwide. It produces more than 632 billion dollars annually, which reflects encouraging growth in the halal industry.[19] Therefore, cosmetic companies should address this matter and produce more halal cosmetic products. With respect to a skin condition, the participants mentioned that environmental factors become the biggest factors which may cause many negative effects to appear on the skin. As an example, air conditioning can cause the skin to be dry because of the decreasing water content in the stratum corneum.[20] Several methods can be utilized to overcome skin problems. For instance, the participants could consume collagen, such as Botryococcusbraunii in microalgae, which helps to prevent skin aging.[21] In addition, adequate sleep time is essential to prevent stress, which indirectly affects the function of the epidermal barrier and results in a reduction in the production of collagen.[22]

Although the participants had positive perceptions toward natural cosmetic products, negative perceptions toward the product labels cannot be avoided. Directive 76/768/EEC states that there are requirements for the labels to provide information related to the manufacturer's identity, safety, stability, and the ingredients of the products.[23] Therefore, related bodies for cosmetic products in Malaysia should ensure that the label does not contain exaggerations by the manufacturer. In terms of pricing, the participants held a perception that the price is based on the company brand. Cosmetic products produced by branded companies are more expensive, compared to those produced by nonbranded companies. Regardless of all of the perceptions, consumers should prepare themselves by obtaining more information about cosmetic products. In this way, consumers may avoid being deceived by the product itself.

All of the following criteria play a vital role in influencing the participants attitude in purchasing cosmetic products: (1) The participants prefer to use natural cosmetic products, although, at the time of the study, they were not using them, (2) the participants choose to use branded cosmetic products compared to local products, (3) the cosmetic products need to have halal certification, and (4) the participants will not depend on a particular cosmetic product if the accessibility of the product is difficult. Both natural and chemical ingredients had advantages and disadvantages.[24] Therefore, the regulatory body should take decisive action toward the cosmetic companies to ensure product safety and efficacy. Next, branded cosmetic products were known to have high quality.[25] However, if the accessibility of the products is difficult, the participants might be influenced by their inaccessibility and tend not to purchase the product. Thus, product availability becomes a crucial factor for consumers in purchasing cosmetic products.[18]


   Conclusions Top


The level of awareness about cosmetic products among the participants were not satisfying, as they were unable to give the definition of cosmetic products which applies to Malaysia as a country and did not aware about the regulatory body which regulates cosmetic products in Malaysia. The participants choose to use natural cosmetic products, and Muslim participants in this study realized the necessity of halal certification for their cosmetic products, as they are used in daily life. Thus, a cosmetic company in Malaysia should produce more natural and halal cosmetic products. However, the prices and accessibility of those products need to be considered as well as the products can be negatively affected if the price is unaffordable and they are difficult to find in certain places, especially in rural areas. In terms of skin condition, the participants take effective measures to address their skin problems, such as using a specific product for a certain skin problem.

Acknowledgments

This study was carried out with support from a grant (MRGS13-01-001-0007) provided by the Ministry of Education Malaysia.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

 
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