Friday, March 20, 2009

Consumer Insight - Skin Color: White or Tan?

I have been following Philip Martin's "The Color Initiative" (details here) with interest. Two recent podcasts have provided Asian consumer insights of great value.

Traditionally, from the Far East and South East Asia to South Asia and Middle East, white skin color is prized, darker color has been associated with lower cast or class, implication of an individual's socio-economic standing, etc. Interestingly these influences date back not just centuries but millennia.

To highlight this point, in the podcast a Taiwanese 18 year old girl states:

"I try hard to make my skin white, yes. If my skin is lighter, I think I will be more happier."

Philip Martin states of the skin whitening business:

"Across Asia, skin whitening is a growing and lucrative $18 billion dollar industry. Cosmetic companies and dermatologists are scrambling to cash in – pushing whitening creams, ointments, and skin-bleaching treatments."

Listen to the podcast or read the transcript for "Skin whitening big business in Asia" here.

Next Philip Martin provides a contrarian view that the consumer is choosing to act on from within the same region in the podcast "The color of success in Asia" here.

These two podcasts highlight that a tradition within a culture can have long lasting affects. With economic growth and independence, the consumer can choose to shed the burden of tradition in favor of another choice available to them. The Asian consumer is going to be evolving at a fast pace and the traditional CPG companies engaged specifically in beauty-care may need to look upon this business as FMCG.

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