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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2016  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 203-209  

Malaysian consumers' awareness, perception, and attitude toward cosmetic products: Questionnaire development and pilot testing

1 Department of Pharmaceutical Technology, Faculty of Pharmacy, International Islamic University , 25200 Kuantan, Pahang, Malaysia
2 Department of Pharmacy Practice, Faculty of Pharmacy, International Islamic University , 25200 Kuantan, Pahang, Malaysia

Date of Submission27-Jun-2015
Date of Decision07-Sep-2015
Date of Acceptance16-Nov-2015
Date of Web Publication22-Jun-2016

Correspondence Address:
Ammar Ihsan Awadh
Department of Pharmacy Practice, Faculty of Pharmacy, International Islamic University Malaysia, 25200 Kuantan, Pahang
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0975-7406.171681

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Background: Increased usage of cosmetic products has caused a growing concern about the safety of these products, and yet little is known about cosmetics from the consumers' perspective. Hence, this study's aim is to develop a valid and reliable tool for assessing consumers' awareness, perceptions, and attitudes toward cosmetic products. Materials and Methods: A questionnaire was developed in the English language based on information collected from a literature search, in-depth interviews conducted with consumers prior to this study and consultations with experts. Subsequently, the questionnaire was subjected to translation, validation, and test-retest reliability. A final version of the questionnaire was piloted among 66 consumers via convenient sampling. A descriptive analysis was performed, and the internal consistency and the differences between variables in the questionnaire were analyzed. Results: The developed and translated questionnaire produced repeatable data for each of the domains (Spearman's correlation ≥ 0.7, P< 0.001). The internal consistency for awareness, perceptions and attitudes indicates good internal consistency (Cronbach's alpha value of more than 0.7 for each domain). Significant differences were found between the perception scores for the race, religion, and monthly expenses for cosmetic products, respectively, and the same pattern was found for the attitude scores, but monthly expenses for cosmetic products was replaced by monthly income. Conclusion: The results achieved via the Bahasa Malaysia questionnaire indicated that the developed and translated questionnaire can be used as a valid and reliable tool for assessing consumers' awareness, perceptions, and attitudes toward cosmetic products in Malaysia in future studies.

Keywords: Attitude, awareness, cosmetic products, Malaysia, perception, questionnaire development

How to cite this article:
Ayob A, Awadh AI, Hadi H, Jaffri J, Jamshed S, Ahmad HM. Malaysian consumers' awareness, perception, and attitude toward cosmetic products: Questionnaire development and pilot testing. J Pharm Bioall Sci 2016;8:203-9

How to cite this URL:
Ayob A, Awadh AI, Hadi H, Jaffri J, Jamshed S, Ahmad HM. Malaysian consumers' awareness, perception, and attitude toward cosmetic products: Questionnaire development and pilot testing. J Pharm Bioall Sci [serial online] 2016 [cited 2022 Nov 28];8:203-9. Available from:

Currently, the cosmetic industry in Malaysia is very encouraging. In addition, the industry has been gaining substantial attention from industry players.[1] Cosmetic products in Malaysia are regulated by the National Pharmaceutical Control Bureau. Comprehensive guidelines for cosmetic products in Malaysia were amended in 2009 to follow the ASEAN Cosmetics Directive. As stated in the guidelines, cosmetic products refer to “any substances or preparation intended to be placed in contact with various external parts of the human body or with teeth and mucous membranes of the oral cavity, with a view exclusively or mainly to clean[ing them], perfum[ing them], changing their appearance and/or correcting body odors and/or protecting them in good condition.”[2]

During ancient times, natural ingredients were the main ingredients in cosmetic products. However, to produce cosmetic products from natural ingredients in large scale requires a greater allocation. Starting in the 19th century, chemical substances were used to replace natural ingredients to increase production. Thereafter, their production continued to grow throughout the 20th century through the use of technology and innovation. The abundance of cosmetic products at that time caused consumers to consider issues related to the safety of these products.[3]

In line with this problem, people currently have a greater awareness to protect themselves from hazardous chemical substances. They have become more concerned about cosmetic formulations, and this has developed into a vital criterion for consumers in choosing cosmetic products.[4] Hence, cosmetic products made from natural ingredients have become more popular.[5] This was shown by a study conducted in the USA, which revealed that a total of 38 million adults in the USA population used herbal products in 2002[6] Moreover, natural cosmetic products produce beneficial effects, such as fewer side effects, compared with chemical-based cosmetics, and they are environmental-friendly products.[7],[8]

Awareness, perceptions, and attitudes toward cosmetic products varied among consumers. These three variables are related to each other. Some consumers are aware of cosmetic products; therefore, they purchased cosmetic products which were more reliable and safe. Furthermore, perceptions can cause some consumers to choose a branded cosmetic product, rather than look into the ingredients that are part of the safety issues.[9] In addition, the accessibility of a product in certain places might alter their attitudes toward purchasing a good cosmetic product.[10] All of these factors contribute to consumers' level of awareness, perceptions, and attitudes toward cosmetic products. Thus, there is a crucial need to understand those factors, because they can be used as references for cosmetic manufacturers to produce cosmetic products which can to fulfill the consumers' demands.


The purpose of this study was to develop a questionnaire that can be used to assess consumers' awareness, perceptions, and attitudes toward cosmetic products, to translate the developed questionnaire into the Malaysian language, to determine the validity and reliability of the developed translated instruments, and to assess the differences in consumers' awareness, perceptions, and attitudes across their basic demographic backgrounds.

   Materials and Methods Top

Development of questionnaire

A qualitative study using face-to-face in-depth interview sessions among 30 participants was performed prior to this study with the objective of investigating their awareness, perceptions, and attitudes toward cosmetic products in Malaysia. Based on the information obtained from the qualitative study and literature review studies,[7],[11],[12],[13],[14],[15],[16] a questionnaire in the English language was developed. There were 53 questions on the questionnaire, which were divided into four parts as follows: (a) Demographic background, (b) awareness, (c) perceptions, and (d) attitudes. The demographic background section consisted of 13 questions, and the rest of the sections consisted of 10 questions, respectively. The possible responses to the questionnaires comprised (1) “yes, no and do not know” for the awareness section and (2) a five-point Likert scale for the perceptions and attitudes sections.

Questionnaire translation

The questionnaire, which was drafted in the English language, was translated into Bahasa Malaysia, which is the official language in Malaysia, following the translation guidelines developed by Beaton et al. and Guillemin et al.,[17],[18] which are widely used in Social Science Research.[19],[20],[21] First, two qualified and experienced people with a good command of English and whose mother tongue was Bahasa Malaysia were appointed to carry out the translation independently (English version to Bahasa Malaysia version). Then, one of the researchers in this study reviewed and reported about the two primary versions. As a second step, another two people were assigned to do a reverse translation independently (Bahasa Malaysia version to English version). Next, that version was compared to the original version. Finally, the drafts produced in steps 1 and 2 were tabulated and deliberated by the translators, and any discrepancies were discussed to achieve a consensus regarding the final translated version. The translation process was conducted in this way to ensure that the final questionnaire was suited for the social and cultural context of Malaysia.

Questionnaire validation and test-retest reliability

The final version of the questionnaire was given to three pharmacists who were experts in pharmaceutical technology. Its face and content validity were examined by them, and they reported back to the researcher. In addition, the translated questionnaire was given randomly to certain people with the aim of obtaining their feedback. Thus, corrections and suggestions from expert people and laymen were incorporated to produce the final questionnaire.

Test-retest reliability was used to determine the consistency of the test in a period of time. The questionnaire was distributed to 10 people, and after a period of 2 weeks, the same questionnaire was given to the same participants. Next, a Spearman rank correlation analysis was used to determine the consistency of the questionnaire.

Ethics approval

This study was conducted among the residence in Kuantan, Pahang with the approval by IIUM Research Ethics Committee (IREC) []. The study was approved on April 7, 2015, and the registration number is IREC 417.

Data collection

A cross-sectional study design was employed to assess consumers' awareness, perceptions, and attitudes toward cosmetic products. This pilot test was conducted in Kuantan, the capital city of Pahang, the largest state in Peninsular Malaysia. Public places in this district, such as educational institutions, community pharmacies, and community halls were selected to perform this study.

The participants for this pilot test were selected via convenient sampling based on the following criteria: (1) Aged between 18 and 65 years old, (2) current user of the cosmetic product(s), and (3) an ability to understand, read, speak, and write in the Bahasa Malaysia language. A total of 66 cosmetic consumers were successfully recruited as participants in this study.

People in the selected areas were approached by the researcher, and the study was explained to them. Interested consumers were asked to answer all of the questions in the questionnaire. On average, the participants were able to complete the questionnaire within 10 min. All of the participants in the study were asked to read a cover letter describing the study objectives and the time needed to fill in the questionnaire, and the researcher received written informed consent for the consumers' participation before involving them in the research.

Data analysis

The data collected in this study were tabulated and analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 20 for Windows (IBM Corp., Armonk, NY). The awareness section was assessed using the following scores: “1” for a correct answer and “0” for an incorrect answer. In a case in which any of the participants answered all of the questions in this part correctly, the score would be 10 marks. For perceptions and attitudes, the scoring was as follows: “1” for strongly disagree, “2” for disagree, “3” for uncertain, “4” for agree, and “5” for strongly agree. The highest score for each section was assigned a total of 50 marks.

Descriptive statistics such as frequency, mean, and standard deviation were used to describe the participants' characteristics. Test-retest reliability was analyzed via Spearman's rank correlation, and for internal consistency, Cronbach's alpha was used to analyze the awareness, perceptions, and attitudes scores.

The correlation between awareness, perceptions, and attitudes was identified via Spearman's rank correlation. Moreover, any differences between the participants' awareness, perception, and attitude scores and the demographic characteristics were analyzed using SPSS via the Mann–Whitney U-test and the Kruskal–Wallis test.

   Results Top

Demographic characteristics

A total number of 66 cosmetic consumers participated in this study, and their demographic characteristics are shown in [Table 1]. Female participants dominated this study, but for both genders, slightly more than half were single (68.2%). Their age ranged between 18 and 55 years old, although participants in the age category of 18–35 years old (83.9%) dominated the study. The majority of the participants was Malay (81.8%), Muslim (81.8%), lived in urban areas (72.7%), and possessed tertiary education or higher (80.3%). In addition, most of the participants in this study worked either in the government or the private sector (59.1%) and received < RM1000 as their monthly income (43.9%).
Table 1: Participants' demographic characteristics

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Test-retest reliability and internal consistency

Test-retest reliability was used to analyze the consistency of the questionnaire over a period of 2 weeks. Statistical analysis via Spearman's rank correlation showed that the correlation coefficients for each of the domains in the questionnaire were >0.7 (P < 0.001), which indicates that the questionnaire had good test-retest reliability.

The mean ± standard deviation of the domains was as follows:

(1) Awareness, 6.09 ± 1.99, (2) perceptions, 40.35 ± 4.331 and (3) attitudes, 34.76 ± 7.38. In addition, the Cronbach's alpha values were: (1) 0.711 for the 10 questions in the awareness section, (2) 0.709 for the 10 questions in the perceptions section and (3) 0.823 for the 10 questions in the attitudes section [Table 2]. The item-total correlations are presented in [Table 3],[Table 4],[Table 5].
Table 2: Cronbach's alpha value for awareness, perception and attitude score

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Table 3: Item-total correlation for awareness score

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Table 4: Item-total correlation for perception score

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Table 5: Item-total correlation for attitude score

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Consumers' awareness, perceptions, and attitudes

The level of awareness among the participants in this study was not associated with either their perceptions or attitudes. Instead, the participants' perceptions were positively associated with their attitudes toward cosmetic products (Spearman's rank correlation coefficient; 0.459, P < 0.001) [Table 6].
Table 6: Correlation between awareness, perception, and attitude

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An analysis to determine the differences between the variables in the questionnaire was performed for awareness, perception, and attitude scores and the participants' demographic backgrounds. From [Table 7], it is clear that there was no significant difference between the awareness score and the participants' demographic characteristics. However, there was a significant difference between the perception scores and religion, race and monthly expenses for cosmetic products. Here, the highest numbers of participants were within the categories of Malay, Islam religion and spend <RM50 on a monthly basis. For the attitude score, there were significant differences in the same categories as in the perception score; however, the monthly expenses for cosmetic products category were replaced by the monthly income category. A monthly income of <RM1000 is the amount of income received by the largest category of participants.
Table 7: Differences between awareness, perception, and attitude score with participants' demographic characteristics

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   Discussion Top

A questionnaire was developed in the English language to ensure that the information which was extracted was similar to the information from the references. Bahasa Malaysia is noted to be the most frequently used language in Malaysia. Thus, a process was carried out to translate the questionnaire from English to Bahasa Malaysia, referring to the procedures suggested by Beaton et al. and Guillemin et al.[17],[18] A multistep translation method was used in this study. Although no standardized method in conducting translation has been reported, a study by Acquadro et al.,[22] suggested that multistep translation is necessary to ensure the quality of the translated instrument, and further, it is recommended by the USA food and drug administration.[22]

Subsequently, the translated questionnaire underwent validity and reliability tests. As a start, face and content validity tests were conducted for the translated questionnaire to ensure the quality of the newly developed questionnaire. Then, test-retest reliability was carried out. Test-retest reliability is defined as the consistency or reproducibility of a result which is obtained from an instrument, measuring the same object over a period of time.[23] The correlation coefficient for test-retest reliability in each domain was >0.7 (P < 0.001), indicating good reliability and consistency. In addition, Cronbach's alpha is widely used to determine the internal consistency of an instrument in the research field.[24] If an instrument has α >0.7, it is considered to be acceptable, α value range from 0.5 to 0.7 is considered to be moderate and α value <0.5 is considered to be poor.[25] Based on those categories, acceptable internal consistency was achieved for the domains in the questionnaire, as the α value was higher than 0.7.

The attitudes of a person are shaped by their perceptions. For instance, a study conducted by Im et al.,[26] indicated that the first impression of a product can affect consumers' perceptions, and hence, determine their attitudes toward the product. Therefore, the participants' perceptions towards cosmetic products will influence their attitudes toward using cosmetic products. In terms of the differences between the domains in the questionnaire, no significant differences were found between the awareness scores and the participants' demographic characteristics. In comparison, the perceptions and attitude scores showed significant differences with the participants' characteristics. The perceptions score showed significant differences between religion, race, and monthly expenses for cosmetic products. On the other hand, significant differences were found between attitude scores and religion, race and monthly income, respectively.

Perceptions and attitudes toward cosmetic products among the participants were influenced by race and religion, and Islamic and Malay participants had the highest mean values in this study. Racial groups are included in the cultural factors which influence consumers' buying attitudes, as mentioned by Kotler and Keller.[27] In terms of religion, the population and Housing Census of Malaysia, which was conducted in 2010,[28] shows that Islam is the religion most widely professed in Malaysia, with a total of 61.3% of the population. As Muslims, their goods and their actions in their daily lives must be in line with the concept of halal as mentioned in the Al-Quran (the Holy book for Muslims),[29] which includes the usage of cosmetic products. Thus, whether cosmetic products are halal is one of the criteria considered by the participants prior to purchasing cosmetic products, as they are used in their daily lives.

In this study, the participants' perceptions were influenced by their monthly expenses for cosmetic products, and the highest amount they think they can spend, on a monthly basis, is <RM50 which is equal to USD 11.76. On the other hand, when the participants had a monthly income <RM1000, this had a large impact on their attitudes related to cosmetic products. Kotler and Keller [27] stated that monthly income is one of the economic circumstances that falls into the personal factors category which influences consumers' buying behavior. For instance, if a person receives an average salary, they might think twice prior to purchasing products for their daily needs, including cosmetic products. Thus, in financial terms, perceptions and attitudes tend to be connected to each other prior to purchases of cosmetic products.

   Conclusion Top

The newly developed translated questionnaire was proven to be a valid and reliable tool for assessing consumers' awareness, perceptions, and attitudes toward cosmetic products. A reliability analysis showed that the questionnaire possesses good test-retest reliability and acceptable internal consistency. The population in Malaysia is mostly Malay and professes the Islamic religion, and these factors contribute to the significant differences found in the perceptions and attitudes toward cosmetic products. However, monthly income had a direct influence on how a person should spend money for cosmetic products on a monthly basis.


I would like to acknowledge Department of Basic Medical Sciences in Kulliyyah of Pharmacy, International Islamic University Malaysia, for the permission in borrowing the DermaLab ® Combo.

Financial support and sponsorship

This research was funded by a grant (MRGS13-01-001-0007) provided by the Ministry of Education, Malaysia.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

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  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5], [Table 6], [Table 7]

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