As consumers have become more conscious about what they eat, drink, and wear, so too have they shown an interest in clean and sustainable hair care products. In response, larger brands have released product lines featuring natural ingredients, while smaller players have found traction in boutique shops and with online shoppers. For global brands like Aveda who have long aligned themselves with sustainability and environmental responsibility, how can they better understand the changing preferences of their customer base and respond to the impacts of these industry shifts?

To dig deeper into media and consumer narratives around the company and its products, Quid analyzed 795 news articles specifically on Aveda from the past year, and 1,925 product reviews on the Aveda website.

Media Narratives

Sustainability—particularly around reducing plastic waste—emerged as a popular topic connected to the Aveda brand, presenting an opportunity for the company to capitalize on growing consumer interest.

One of the most engaging articles with online readers listed Aveda as a go-to brand for “getting gorgeous while going green.” Published on Earth Day, the article mentioned that Aveda was the first company to sign the CERES Principles (which guide corporate conduct on environmental issues) and makes its products using 100 percent certified wind power.

News network representing 795 articles on Aveda from a one-year period. Colored by cluster. Sized by degree.

When articles on sustainability are filtered by keyword, “plastic” and “recycling” emerged as two of the most widely used. Notable articles mention Aveda programs that make it easier for consumers to recycle empty bottles and the company’s use of recycled ocean plastics in its packaging.

Articles on Aveda’s Cherry Almond Shampoo resonated most with online consumers, even though the topic received very little media attention.

A deeper dive into media coverage around the Cherry Almond product line revealed that the company recently reintroduced the product after discontinuing it nearly a decade ago, sparking a 2,000 person wait list online after selling out within weeks and a highly anticipated UK release. Articles specifically mentioned that consumers loved the smell (one blog even went so far as to describe it as “opulent”), how soft it made their hair feel, and the fact that its 98% naturally-derived.

Scatterplot of social engagement and publication rates of 795 articles on Aveda from a one-year period. Colored by cluster. Sized by degree.

Aveda’s media and blog coverage rose slightly during our one year period, driven by successful marketing efforts and an increase in the number of stories on moisturizers, and coloring and styling products.

Roughly 62% of all coverage around Aveda took place over the last six months of our analysis, with spikes driven by the company’s support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and media interest in specific product lines. Aveda’s decision to donate a portion of sales to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation earned it favorable coverage during October (about 12% of all coverage that month) and presented other opportunities for the company to lend support to other popular social issues—particularly around sustainability.

Timeline of the volume of stories on Aveda from a one-year period. Colored by cluster.

As for increased interest around moisturizers and styling products, coverage was overwhelmingly positive. One blog, for example, described Aveda’s Smooth Infusion Prep Styler as “light, but powerful,” while another called the Blue Malva shampoo a “holy grail shampoo” that “smells amazing.” Any negative feedback generally centered around the price of products.

Product Reviews

Reviewers most frequently commented on how Aveda products made their hair feel and smell, and what they were made from.

From the nearly 2,000 product reviews on the Aveda website, 38% discussed the feel of their hair after using it, followed by the scent (18%) and product ingredients (15%). Depending on how Aveda has marketed its beauty products in the past, this could signal an opportunity to connect more deeply with customers on future campaigns.

Side-by-side networks of 1,927 product reviews from Aveda’s website from a one-year period. Colored by topic (left) and sub-topic (right). Sized by degree.

When disaggregated by sub-topic, clusters formed around keywords like “recommend” (5.7% of all reviews), “soft” (4.5%), “clean” (4.4%), “great” (3.7%), and “silky” (2.5%).

Many customers did not like the ingredients used in Aveda’s new formulas, particularly the new Invati thickening hair care line.

When assessing average ratings by topic, “ingredients” received the lowest marks. A deeper dive revealed that customers were particularly dissatisfied with some of the new formulas, and specifically the Invati product line.

Reviewers had harsh comments for changes to Shampure, calling its smell “chemical,” “plastic-y,” and “like flea shampoo.” Many of these commenters mentioned a long history of buying the product (“over 20 years,” “over 25 years,” “since I was a little kid,” etc.), but cited plans to move on (“my last Aveda purchase,” “will never purchase again,” “lost me as a customer,” etc.).

Aveda product reviews by average rating (mean) and volume of each category (left). Detail on right shows the sentiment of comments specifically on the Ingredients category.

When it comes to the Invati line, which aims to promote thicker, fuller hair, customers had negative things to say about the price (“expensive,” “wasted money,” “no small expense”), and the results on their hair (“greasy,” “hair is worse than before,” “feel duped”). While there were some positive reviews from others who saw an increase in thickness, a number of irate customers vented about Aveda’s response to customer complaints. From one reviewer: “Aveda, it’s obvious from reading you ‘standard’ reply to all the negative reviews that you truly don’t care, but you are the one ruining your beloved products.”

Getting a better idea of what issues are driving positive and negative responses from your customer base can help to inform product and communications strategy going forward. Whether it’s reconsidering new formulas or releases, crafting new campaign ideas, or simply just rethinking an approach to customer feedback, staying abreast of media and customer narratives is an important part of any corporate strategy toolkit.

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