CX Insights

How Beauty Brands Seduce You With Emotional Design

5 min read

In order for you brand or product to be successful, you need to appeal to your target group. There are countless appeals you can use: fun, friendship, relaxation, luxury, beauty, or sex, to name only a few. As long as it’s reasonably linked to your brand, anything can be used to draw attention to your website. With clever use of appeals, you can draw your customers in and take charge of their will. I admit this sounds a little scary, but really it is rather helpful for everyone designing for the Web.

Appeal to your target audience

Appeals can obviously be anything on your website that appeals to your target audience. With anything I mean really anything, from text, pictures, charts, testimonials, all the way to something simple as contact information. Elements that evoke any kind of feelings within your user, are potentially appealing. Most of the times you will want to make sure these feelings are positive. However, you can also use less positive appeals like disgust or pity to provoke your website visitors.

With appeals you can draw attention. This is one of the most important things when people first visit your site. You want to give them a reason to stay. Then, appeals can evoke emotions, awake desires, and even influence people’s actions.

Beauty brands appeal to us through emotions

Let’s have a closer look at how beauty brands use appeals to get to us. Major parts of their marketing are actually based on emotions. For example, the slogan of L’Oréal Paris is ‘Because you’re worth it’. Is there a better argument for purchasing a product? I don’t think so. This slogan does not only give us a good feeling because we treat ourselves, it also boosts our self confidence, because we are worth it. That’s fabulous. Another brand, Dove, used the perfect line ‘Real women have curves’ as slogan for one of their campaigns. In times of idealized body images of way too skinny models, Dove finally allows women to look normal again, to be happy with themselves. These brands sell much more than just their products.

For a better understanding of how beauty brands use emotions to seduce us, I took a close look at a selection of their websites.

L’Oréal Paris

As a classic and sophisticated beauty brand, L’Oréal Paris went for a simple, but elegant website with the picture of a beautiful woman in focus. In this case it is the perfectly styled Beyoncé. Her radiance and the intense look on her face literally draw me as website visitor into the page. L’Oréal Paris uses appeals like exclusivity, beauty, perfection, fame, popularity, attractiveness, elegance, and exquisiteness.


Then there is Dove. Real women have curves, remember? Dove is all about making their site visitors feel comfortable. I can almost feel the softness of their products on my skin by looking at the light and fresh design of their site. I’m joking, of course, but in some way their site really does make me feel good. I find appeals like comfort, harmony, balance, freshness, sympathy, and quality.


I bet, we all know Nivea and we know it as a traditional and high qualitative brand. These emotions, I believe, are perfectly mirrored in the clean layout and color scheme of their site. I also detect appeals like harmony, trust, interpersonal relationships, beauty, and balance in their images. These are all emotions that Nivea wants us to feel, emotions they use to sell us their products.


Next, I had a look at the website of Clinique. Clinique is a high quality and trusted beauty brand with a clean website that represents just that. The simplicity of the website reflects the pure and fragrance free composition of their products. I see appeals, like coolness, power, balance, purity, freshness and natural beauty.


Another popular beauty brand is Olay. Olay focuses on quality and uniqueness. The way they present the products on their site gives me a sense of superiority. They use appeals, such as exclusiveness, luxury, passion, and perfection to make people want their products.


Garnier surprises with a very colorful and energetic website. The intense green and the quickly changing images convey a young and dynamic feeling. Garnier emphasizes appeals like youth, power, self confidence, freshness, nature, and beauty.


Axe, a brand that focuses more on their male customers than on the female, tries just as much to appeal to emotions than all the other beauty brands. I detect familiar appeals like coolness, attractiveness, resistlessness, freshness, and sex, but also different, maybe more male appeals like strength, fun, and play.

Untenable Assertion or True Perceptions?

I made a bunch of assumptions like Dove wants to make us feel comfortable, while with L’Oréal Paris we feel sophisticated. I identified appeals like beauty, passion, coolness, and many more. And I blamed the different brands to seduce us with these appeals so we would desire their products. I wonder, however, if I’m right with these assumptions and to be honest, I’m quite curious if you recognize any of them? To see whether I’m anywhere close to the truth and to check with your perception, I set up a test case with the different beauty brands. Please take a minute to participate in this quick Usabilla test, and you will shortly find the results here on our blog. I can’t wait.

Sabina Idler
Sabina was technical writer & UXer @Usabilla for 5 years before she started her own UX research and consultancy firm; UXkids. With UXkids, Sabina leverages her academic research expertise, know how in child development, and strategic vision to help companies build successful digital products for children. You can connect with Sabina on Linkedin or follow her on Twitter.