Understanding consumers’ emotions and sensory experience for beauty care products


Understanding consumer experience related to hedonic, sensory, and emotional aspects of products is the key to driving consumer-centric product design for the beauty care category. This dissertation conducted three independent studies aiming to explore consumer experience of beauty care products from two perspectives: liking and beyond liking (emotions), based on conventional sensory and consumer data and online product reviews. The objective of Chapter 2 was to develop an emotion lexicon that could be used to profile consumers’ emotional responses to beauty care products in sensory and consumer tests. The lexicon was developed in four main steps: sourcing terms from online product reviews, term identification and categorization, term refinement, and term validation. The final emotion lexicon consists of 37 positive emotions and 2 negative emotions. Recommendations on the application of this lexicon to each of the three categories of beauty care (skincare, hair care and makeup) were provided. The validated emotion lexicon from this study is readily applicable to other emotion research for skincare, hair care and makeup. Chapter 3 explored sensory drivers of liking and emotional associations for beauty care products. Hand creams were used as testing samples to be evaluated for sensory characteristics and consumer perception. First, the sensory space (aroma, appearance, texture & skinfeel) of twelve hand creams was profiled by a highly trained descriptive panel using a modified flavor/texture profile approach. Then, seven hand creams selected from the descriptive sensory space were rated for overall liking, emotions using the lexicon developed from Chapter 2, and consumer characterization using check-all-that-apply (CATA) in a home use test (HUT) with a hundred female consumers from the Kansas City area. Cluster analysis and external preference mapping identified three consumer clusters with different liking patterns: the thick & waxy-texture likers, mild scent & low-medium-thickness likers, and strong-scent likers. Consumers with different liking patterns differed in their emotional associations with sensory characteristics of hand creams. However, high intensities of certain aroma attributes seemed to elicit high-arousal emotions for all groups. The findings of this study could guide the development of new hand cream products targeting different consumer segments. Chapter 4 explored consumer experience for hand cream products from the “voice of consumers”-online product reviews. A total of 17, 581 reviews representing 46 hand creams of different brands, price points, and sensory attributes were collected from Amazon and Ulta Beauty using a scraping software. Topic modeling using Latent Dirichlet allocation (LDA) identified five major topics consumers mentioned in these online reviews: greasiness & residue of the product, scent/fragrances of the product, skin feel & efficacy of the product, consumers’ skin issues, and occasions when to apply the product. Term frequency–inverse document frequency (tf-idf) calculated for each rating group suggested that unpleasant scent and overall dissatisfied quality were the main reasons why consumers gave a rating lower than 4 stars. High efficacy and desirable skinfeel were the drivers for 5 stars. These findings highlighted the importance of sensory experience and perception of efficacy in consumers’ whole product experience.



Emotion, Sensory evaluation, Consumer research, Beauty care, Online review mining

Graduation Month



Doctor of Philosophy


Department of Food, Nutrition, Dietetics and Health

Major Professor

Martin Talavera