Friday, 26 October 2012

How A Marketing Company Convinced Chinese Women They Were 'Too Hairy'

FROM staying slim to the quest for perfect skin; a woman's list of beauty concerns is endless. But for ladies in China - who typically have little body hair - remaining fuzz-free was not top of their list of priorities.
That is until a canny marketing campaign from the manufacturers of a hair removal cream successfully fostered a fuzz phobia among the country's women - and sent its Asian sales soaring as a result.
When Veet hair-removal cream first hit the shelves in China in 2005, sales were sluggish among local women blessed with relatively hair-free skin.
So the manufacturers launched a new marketing campaign aimed at city women linking smooth, fuzz-free skin to health, confidence, and 'shining glory'.
As a result, many well-groomed women in China are now as preoccupied by stray hairs as their western counterparts.
Asian sales of hair remover are rising by 20 per cent annually - almost double the rate of women's razors - according to research carried out by Euromonitor International. And Veet is now the fastest-growing brand in China for British manufacturers Reckitt Benckiser.
Aditya Sehgal, the firm's China chief, told Business Week: "It's not how much hair you have, it's how much you think you have. If your concern level is high enough, even one hair is too much."
The campaign is certainly not the first time a manufacturer has played on women's preoccupation with perceived flaws. Beauty giants Estee Lauder and L'Oreal both sell skin-whitening creams in China, where many women perceive lighter skin as preferable.
Mr Sehgal said the firm's role was not to remind Chinese women how much hair they have, and insisted its customers were too 'independent-minded' to be persuaded to buy a product they didn't really need.

But Benjamin Voyer, a social psychologist and assistant professor of marketing at ESCP Europe Business School, likened Veet's Chinese marketing to 'the apple in the Bible'.
"It creates an awareness, which subsequently creates a feeling of shame and need," he told Business Week.
PR consultant Maggie Li, 29, said had been using Veet since receiving a free sample in the summer, and added that the product's marketing 'makes Chinese women more aware of their body hair issue'.
The manufacturers targeted flooded university campuses with free samples and enlisted glamorous actress Yang Mi as a spokesmodel as part of its efforts to target female students and cosmopolitan city women.
While Chinese sales of the product have noticeably increased on the back of the new marketing approach, it is still not a familiar brand outside of cities and is yet to benefit from a national advertising campaign.
But if the strategy continues to work its magic there could be plenty of room for growth, as a study showed that just 0.6 per cent of Chinese women remove body hair.

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