From two-in-one shampoos and moisturizing facial cleansers to more exotic products such as exfoliating lipsticks and UV-protective hair sprays, multifunctional formulations have become extremely common in the marketplace. Such multi-functionality satisfies the consumer's need for convenience and the marketer's need for an exploitable product advantage. It also provides the chemist with formidable technical challenges. Overcoming these challenges will, however, require increasingly sophisticated solutions, given the intense focus that these products have received during past years.
The development of truly multifunctional products may be accompanied by significant, and at times paradoxical, hazards. Indeed, commercial success may be impaired by the very same functional properties that provide the product's reason for being. For example, the product's name alone may generate consumer concerns of overfunctionality. It is not uncommon for a moisturizing skin cleanser to be received with fears that the user (and his or her clothing) will be left with an oily film. Similarly, two-in-one shampoos are commonly received with concerns of oily buildup. Clearly, a balance in label claims and functionality must be
■a reached. Ideally, the consumer should also be provided with a means to alleviate such fears (e.g., via the availability of multiple product versions, for dry, normal, and oily skin or hair). In all likelihood, the consumers' greatest concern with these products is their inability to control the relative performance of each functionality—the fear of receiving too much of a good thing. One hopes that the product development team will learn of such obstacles and ascertain how they may be overcome through diligent consumer studies and regional market testing, not after full-scale commercialization.
While the phrases "multifunctional product" and "multifunctional formulation" are commonly used interchangeably, the latter more accurately reflects the focus of this chapter, and this book, in that it unmistakably refers to a single formulation that provides more than one performance benefit. This distinction is drawn because the term "multifunctional product" could describe a series of conventional (single-function) formulations that are packaged in individual containers within a single unit (or kit) intended to be applied separately and consecutively. For example, many "conditioning permanent wave" and "conditioning hair coloring" kits and products contain a separate hair conditioner that is to be applied after completion of the primary (permanent wave or hair coloring) process. To qualify as a multifunctional formulation, the primary (permanent wave or hair coloring) formulation should provide a highly discernible level of hair conditioning without the use of an additional component. At times, however components of a multifunctional formulation must, for reasons of chemistry, be kept apart prior to usage. Since these components are subunits of a single formulation and are not intended to be used separately, they are considered, jointly, to comprise a multifunctional formulation.
Since most conventional formulations tacitly provide more than one benefit, the question remains: At what point should a formulation be considered to be multifunctional? For example, one would not consider formulating a general-purpose shave cream that did not leave the skin supple, a general-purpose shampoo that did not leave hair reasonably easy to comb, a facial cleanser that did not provide some degree of emollience, a hair-setting product that did not ease wet comb and flyaway, or a liquid makeup that did not leave the skin feeling smooth. Given this routine requirement, at what point should the formula be considered to be multifunctional? When the secondary functionality is particularly efficacious? When special technology is required to gain compatibility, stability or functionality? When a nontraditional combination of functionalities is involved?
In an attempt to provide a more definitive point of delineation, the following discussion will consider multifunctional formulations as providing an additional functionality of a type or level not normally expected of its primary product category. With respect to the first condition, type, it is becoming increasingly common for cosmetic formulations to also include a drug, or quasi-drug, treatment
(e.g., antibacterial soaps and liquid cleansers, UV-protectant moisturizing lotions, pigmented cosmetics, and hair styling/holding products). Special considerations related to the formulation and testing of such drug-containing products are briefly touched upon later in this chapter but are thoroughly discussed in the chapters pertaining to the addition of sun protectant and antibacterial functionality to personal care products.
With respect to the level of the secondary functionality required to warrant a formulation being identified as multifunctional, it is worthwhile to note the impact of shampoos containing suspended silicone on the category of conditioning shampoos. While conditioning shampoos were available for many years, the level of conditioning imparted by these silicone-containing shampoos was far enough above that previously available to warrant the creation of a new category of shampoo, two-in-one . Perhaps justifiably, owing to the immense improvement they represent, chemists and marketing personnel alike continue to treat these shampoos as belonging to an entirely different category of products instead of as evolutionary members of what was an ongoing category, conditioning shampoos. It is worthwhile to note that in a development more representative of marketing avarice than technological innovation, these two-in-ones quickly proliferated into hair and skin care products labeled as three-, four-, and even five-in-ones.
Perhaps the most important factor to consider prior to developing a multifunctional formulation is that these products are not for everyone. More importantly, they may not be preferred by your targeted audience. It may be possible, through compelling marketing and advertising, to address the reasons that lead some individuals and demographic groups to prefer conventional products, and to resist the lure of multi functionality (Table 1). For some, however, rejection of multifunc-
Table 1 Key Reasons for Consumer Preference of Conventional Products
1. Control of the level of each functionality. Inability to control the level/ratio of each functionality in multifunctional products has resulted in too much of a good thing and the demise of a number of multifunctional products.
2. Assurance that each functionality is actually received. The actual ^ application of individual functional products provides potent psychological assurance that the related benefits will be provided and pro- |
vided at a functional level. s
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