This defies all logic and common sense. The less a beauty product works, the more likely it is that a woman will keep buying it and using it. I am not making this up.

University researchers in England interviewed almost 300 women about their use of beauty products that are supposed to make them appear younger. They found that women were more loyal to products that didn't work, than to the ones that did.

Most of the women in the study had used anti-aging products and vitamins over the last year. When women felt that a product did not work, only 27% stopped using it. 73% of women kept using the products they thought weren't working.

And the flip side? When the women felt that a product was working, 55% stopped using it. More stopped using a product that they felt was still working! Many more!

The researchers believe that fear may be the motivating factor behind this behavior. When the products work, women have less anxiety about the problem, so they stop using the stuff. When they think the products aren't working and they're concerned about their appearance, they stick with the products out of fear.

So now we know the secret to the sale of beauty products. Make stuff that doesn't work, and you'll have something on the order of a 73% customer retention rate!

Forensic accountant Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations through her company, Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners honored Tracy as the 2007 winner of the prestigious Hubbard Award and her first book, Essentials of Corporate Fraud, will be on bookshelves in March 2008.

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