The cosmetics company L'Orial has expressed an interest in launching a cosmetics line for children in particular a makeup range for girls aged between 7 and 12. L'Ori?? al is already a reputed global cosmetics manufacturer, with brands such as Lanci?? me and Maybelline targeted at the adult cosmetics market. In addition, L'Ori?? al produce a range of hair care products ("L'Ori?? al kids") specifically targeted at children, which was launched in 1997 and has been very successful.

L'Orial have noticed, through the use of secondary data and from success of competitors already in the children's makeup market, that the children's cosmetics market as a whole has grown significantly in recent years. Children now have access to a greater disposable income and the "pester factor" has also increased their purchasing power. There are at present several companies who produce children's makeup targeted at this age range. Some of the more successful of these are the Boot's "Glitter Babes" range, Claire's Accessories Makeup, Tinkerbell and "Smacker" by Bonnebell.

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The average price of these products ranges between i?? 1-i?? 5, which is well within the purchasing power of children. L'Ori?? al would therefore like to fully exploit the opportunities offered by this expanding market and are to commission marketing research to gain further insight into this market. They would like to focus their new products on the "tween" girl market (girls aged between 7 and 12). They consider that after this age, children's attitudes towards make up change as they start to crave a more "grown up" self-image.

The specific purpose of L'Orial's research project is to gain an insight into girls' attitudes and using behaviour towards makeup to aid with new product development. Decision makers will consider the findings of this research when deciding on the new product range and its brand image. As the overall aim of this report is to evaluate the effectiveness of chosen qualitative and quantitative techniques in the analysis of a chosen target market, we would therefore be mainly concentrating on the analysis of the uses of Focus group technique and Survey technique in conducting a research on the "tween" girl market (girls aged between 7 and 12) for L'Orial.

Qualitative Research Technique - Focus Group Although qualitative research can be used for several purposes, for this project, it will be used for exploratory research into attitudes towards make-up. We are going to set up a series of focus groups that will cover the whole age group of the target market (girls from 7-12), divided according to age and socio-economic group. The children will be recruited in a shopping centre similar to Bluewater where L'Ori?? al will hire a promotional stand and play area. The focus groups will take place in a mock make-up studio nearby this designated area.

The applicability of focus groups in this situation depends on the requirements of decision makers, who need accurate, current, sufficient, available and relevant information to be able to make the marketing decision. In addition, one must also consider the requirements of the respondents in order to ensure honest and full answers. For this research, focus groups have many benefits. The discussion, although guided occasionally by the interviewer, is generally free flowing and this spontaneity can uncover previously unconsidered issues and hypotheses.

This is especially important for L'Orial, as their knowledge of the children's makeup market is very limited. Focus groups would be a relatively inexpensive way of generating masses of ideas. Nevertheless, the guidance of the discussion will be essential to ensure that the information generated is relevant and useful for the decision makers. As these focus groups will include young children, one must consider if the children would actively participate in a group discussion. The skills of the interviewer in getting the children to relax and feel comfortable talking amongst the group, as well as the context the focus groups are held in, would be vital to the success of the group.

Focus groups have the added benefit that they allow respondents to reply in their own words, which is useful with children as they may be easily led by how the interviewer phrases questions and possible answers. A focus group would also allow the use of some projective techniques, which would, on the one hand to help the children relax and get to know each other, but additionally allow the observation of the girls' actual behaviour whilst using the makeup.

It may be hard for some of the girls, especially the younger ones, to articulate their feelings about make up; projective techniques would facilitate this. However, the coding and analysis of focus groups and the interpretation of projective techniques could reduce the accuracy of the findings, as it is impossible to interpret them without introducing interviewer bias. This could cause the decision makers to distrust such subjective results and they should be aware of the limitations of such techniques.