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Asia's pursuit of beauty

Originally published in WARC.


Shilpa Madan

Cultural differences between East and West play a significant role in how consumers approach the beauty category, according to two academics, who report that societal norms in the East exert greater pressure on buyers.

Writing for WARC, Shilpa Madan (Graduate School of Business, Columbia University) and Shankha Basu (Assistant Professor of Marketing, Leeds University Business School) note that Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong are the top spenders (per capita) for skincare worldwide.

Accordingly, they conducted laboratory and online studies to develop a more detailed understanding of the underlying mechanism that drives Easterners’ pursuit of beauty.

One study demonstrated that Chinese participants had a more positive attitude towards a hypothetical beauty product – a skin tone perfecting cream with benefits that were sought after in two countries – were more likely to buy it, and were willing to pay more for it than Canadian participants.

A second study established that female participants from India were more likely to use image-enhancing apps than those from the US. (Read the full article here: How culture affects Asia’s pursuit of beauty.)

“We found that this is driven by Easterners’ tendency to ‘fit in’ and conform to societal norms,” the authors say. “In other words, Easterners are more likely to feel obligated to conform to socially defined beauty ideals.”

Their research into this area (detailed in full in the Journal of International Marketing) also highlights the dark side of the pursuit of beauty.

“The relentless pursuit of ‘ideal’ beauty as portrayed by the media has led to a worldwide surge in objectification, face and body shaming, body-related disorders and an obsession with plastic surgery,” they note, adding that this is especially prevalent in Asia, which has the highest concentration of plastic surgeons.

source from the WARC.

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