The Crazy World Of Asian Skin Lightening

As someone who has traveled to a couple countries throughout Asia, I have been able to witness the Asian skin whitening craze first hand.

Throughout many Asian countries, light skin is highly prized.

Having a lighter complexion is considered more attractive, especially in South East Asian countries.

In the already light skinned people of North and East Asia, having very clear white skin is a sign of glamor and wealth.

Deep Rooted Cultural Influences

The Asian skin whitening craze has deep cultural roots going back centuries.

Li Yanbing, vice-secretary general of the Chamber of Beauty Culture and Cosmetics of the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce gave an interview with China Daily back in 2012 that shed some light on how deep rooted this craze is.

He mentioned that skin whitening in modern day China goes back to ancient times. And he went on to mention an ancient Chinese saying that has passed through the ages; “One white covers up one hundred ugliness.”

Japan has a similar saying too; “white skin covers the seven flaws. This means that a light-skinned woman is pretty even if her features are not attractive.

Many Asians associate darker complexion with working on a farm in the hot sun or some other so-called menial job. Lighter complexion on the other hand is associated with high status positions and cultural refinement.

Western media influences in Asia also play a big role in purveying the idea that lighter skin is something to be prized. Consequently, there has been a growing demand for skin lightening treatments.

And it is not just facial lightening creams that are in demand either. Whole body lightening creams are also soaring in popularity.
Asian Skin Whitening – A Lucrative Market

The Asian skin whitening industry is said to be worth in excess of US$13 billion. Japan represents the largest market globally while China (around US 3 billion) and India (around US 400 million) are fueling the huge growth in the industry.

India’s obsession with light complexion has seen its skin lightening market grow by double digit rates yearly. Its market accounts for almost 50% of the overall skin care market.

Elsewhere in Asia, a survey conducted by the UK-based market research firm Synovate found that 40% of women in Hong Kong SAR, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea and Taiwan use skin lightening lotions.

Effective Herbal Based Skin Lightening Cream For Asian Skin

So What’s Wrong In Wanting Lighter Skin? To each his/her own. But, the skin lightening industry is not without its detractors.

Critics accuse the industry of pandering to stereotypes about race and social class. They also argue that the industry promotes a distorted view of beauty and doesn’t do enough to educate the public on the potential side effects of whiteners.

And the potential for side effects is very real. Japanese Kanebo-brand skin lightener was recently recalled when users experienced an outbreak of white blotches on their skins.

Side effects or not, in India, the search for lighter skin has expanded into a direction that many detractors consider to be sordid. Now, there is a vaginal bleaching product called Clean And Dry Intimate.

The commercial for this product shows a couple sitting in their home; the husband casually reading a newspaper while the wife pouts to herself because, obviously, her man is ignoring her due to her dark-colored private parts.

Fortunately, she gets a hold of Clean and Dry, which makes her privates a couple shades lighter. Her husband is happy again. Whew! Divorce no longer on the cards. Wonder why he married the woman in the first place.

At any rate, the tagline of the ad read: “Life for women will now be fresher, cleaner and more importantly, fairer and more intimate.”

Those in India in favor of skin lightening argue that critics are being hypocritical when they speak out against the industry.

Alyque Padasee, director of the Clean and Dry advertisement said, “Lipstick is used to make your lips redder, fairness cream is used to make you fairer – so what’s the problem?”

While the debate rages on the, the centuries-old belief that ‘fairer is better’ shows little sign of waning.

From The Old To The New

In Asia in particular, there were many old fashioned treatments used to lighten skin.

In China, wealthy women used to eat crushed pearls. In Korea during the Koryo dynasty, children of wealthy families used peach floral water to wash their faces. In India, women would bathe in turmeric.

Now in the modern era, cosmetics that inhibit the production of melanin are the most popular treatments.

There are many ingredients that can be found in those treatments. Arbutin, kojic acid and Vitamin C derivatives can be found in many of these treatments.

Many treatments now claim not only to make your skin fairer but also claim to moisturize skin and fight aging.

Cleopatra’s Bag of Tricks: The Love and Beauty Secrets of Antiquity’s Women

Speed dating or online matchmaking-these may be the latest romantic trends, but the artistry of love is ancient and the desire for beauty is something altogether primitive. Searching for a mate or attempting to seduce a partner was once the work of potions and charms, animal sacrifices and amulets. While many of the old rituals may seem wildly out of step for contemporary women, there are many ancient practices that may very well initiate attraction and captivate a partner today.

Asses’ milk is not a hot commodity in the present era, but once upon the time it was an elixir by which to preserve youth and beauty. Cleopatra is believed to have placed great store in asses’ milk and was known to bathe in it not only for beauty’s sake, but because it seemed to have aphrodisiac properties. Doctors of antiquity such as Hippocrates prescribed asses’ milk to treat poisonings, nose bleeds, and infectious diseases. Asses’s milk was also the preferred nourishment for nursing infants until the twentieth century. Considered closer to breast milk than that of any other animal, it was later given to infants in delicate health because it seemed to sustain them better in many cases. With its characteristic sweet taste, asses’ milk is more commonly used in France, Italy, and parts of Spain, but its health and beauty secrets can be traced back to ancient times.

History also reports that Cleopatra added salt from the Dead Sea to her bath. This is not a far-fetched tale since ancient women in this region were known to use salt and minerals from the Dead Sea medicinally and for overall health. Today’s mineral cosmetic industry, for example, owes much to the Dead Sea cosmetic practices of antiquity. It was believed that salt from the Dead Sea had restorative powers. Ten times saltier than the ocean, the Dead Sea is the lowest place on Earth that occurs naturally. The extraordinary composition of its brine and truly unique composition of its waters have been said to work wonders for people suffering from various health and skin disorders. The Bible states that King Solomon gave Dead Sea salts to the Queen of Sheba as a gift. It is also said that Marc Antony presented Cleopatra with a deed for the Dead Sea region after he conquered it.

Egyptian cosmetics are nearly as old as the civilization. Everyone from the very poor to royalty used them to varying degrees and of different quality. Women, as famously denoted by Cleopatra, wore black kohl to outline their eyes. Another eyeliner variation was to use ground green malachite. In Egypt painting the eyes was a general practice and women, no matter what their status, were likely to practice the application. To shadow the eyes, studies have revealed that ancient Egyptian women would paint their eyelids with a mixture of ground serpentine (a green mineral) and water. To paint their lips, women would combine animal fat and red ochre to create a cosmetic coating. The use of cosmetics in ancient Egypt is a testament to their ideals of beauty.

Ancient Egyptian women were also adept at perfume artistry. Cleanliness was an essential component of desirability for both sexes, but considering the climate, maintaining pleasant fragrance must have been challenging for those ancients. Nevertheless, even without soap, ancient Egyptians are revered for their perfumes. Typically oil, lime, and perfume were the preferred cleansing ingredients. Balanos oil, a botanical extract, was often chosen because it did not clash with the chosen perfume which might have been a combination of flowers and spices. Lime was also used to treat acne and oily skin.

The ancient Greeks dabbled heavily in perfumes and incense to create an aura of seduction. Burning resins or wood created pleasant fragrances that were considered enticing to lovers. Various scents were used for particular parts of the body. Roman baths contained shelves of jarred oils and powders used to perfume the body in pleasing scents. Some places were also synonymous with certain fragrances. For instance, the ancient women of Crete were known for their enchanting scents composed of lilies. Middle Eastern women were noted for their fragrance of frankincense and myrrh. Scent was intrinsic to ancient sexuality, and of course, it plays no small role today either.

Myrrh, prized as a fragrance, was also said to be used by the Queen of Sheba to entice King Solomon. Its ability to enhance seduction was widely known, but it also had many attributes as a beauty tonic. It was regularly used to repair chapped skin and prescribed to treat eczema-like rashes. It has been on beauty regimens for more than four thousand years. Similarly, frankincense was also used in perfumes, but ancient women believed it helped diminish wrinkles and slow down the aging process.

The use of skin cream composed of crushed and finally ground pearls was an ancient Chinese beauty ritual. It is said that pearl cream illuminated the skin. Even today, Chinese manufacturers add ground pearl to some creams. Pearls may seem too expensive to crush into beauty paste today, but bird droppings are essentially free. Japanese women were long accustomed to creating their own creams and cosmetics from natural elements and the droppings of nightingales, for one example, was a popular additive for face creams. And-it worked to restore beauty due to an enzyme within the droppings that contain healing properties. Also, it was far safer than the lead ancient Roman women used to whiten their faces.

In ancient India Vedic Texts reveal that turmeric, a native herb, was an especially important plant for women’s beauty regimens. The turmeric would be formed into a paste that women spread over their bodies before bathing. The skin would benefit from deep cleansing and revitalization. Historically, turmeric has been associated with increased longevity so it’s not surprising that it is still part of beauty regimens for some Asian women today who generally add sandalwood for greater antioxidant power.

Olive oil was the standard hair care product for ancient Greek women. It rejuvenated hair left damaged by the sun and added luster to the locks. Olive oil was also used soften the skin, beautify the nails, and repair chapped lips. Olive had many culinary and healthful uses for the ancients, but Grecian women prized it highly in their beauty rituals. Not surprisingly, Greece has many beauty products that contain olive oil today. Egyptians were also concerned with hair care, although wigs were commonly worn. However, both women and men rubbed the resin of fir trees into their scalps in the belief that it could generate hair growth. In ancient China, extracts from the beautiful butterfly pea, a climbing plant, was used to strengthen hair. Indian women favored coconut oil to give their hair luster and volume.

Furthermore, ornamentation was frequently added to enhance the beauty of the hair. Cleopatra, who certainly appeared to know all the beauty secrets, is said to have worn gems and jewels strewn through her hair. Women of other ancient cultures wore carved combs or natural elements like shells in their hair. Hairstyles could also be elaborate as depicted on Egyptian scrolls or other ancient texts. In many cultures, a thick and healthy head of hair was linked to a woman’s overall healthy and fertility.

The use of aphrodisiacs appears in nearly all cultures. Some edibles were believed to enhance women’s sexuality or increase their fertility. Ginseng, horny goat weed, and vanilla were frequently used by women of many ancient cultures. One ancient aphrodisiac is of particular note, however. The seeds of the fenugreek plant were used eaten by Egyptian, Roman, and Greek women in the belief that it increased the size of their breasts. These ancient women also believed that the plant could round their breasts to a more pleasing form. Many aphrodisiacs associated with women were believed to make them more receptive and excited about sex.

Women of Morocco, Egypt, and Persia found that jasmine was an extraordinary aphrodisiac. Bathing in a jasmine scented bath was known to relieve stress and anger. Women scented with jasmine were said to arouse great passion in men. Jasmine was also used to treat dry or sensitive skin. While not as heady, rose oil is said to be a similar type of aphrodisiac regarded by the ancients. Women hailed its calming affects. Rose oil was also used for skin care. Ancient women of Rome were known to favor lavender-scented baths.

While many seduction and beauty rituals of the ancients are considered obsolete today, there are surprising similarities between the past and the present. Favored scents, cosmetic needs, matters of seduction are all components of contemporary sexuality just as they were for the ancients. Skin care, hair care, and many other beauty rituals were important aspects of women’s lives in antiquity just as they are today. Beauty and sexuality often went hand in hand for the ancients; these aspects are at the heart of present-day civilization too.

How to Market Luxury Products and Increase Market Share in Asian Countries

Your product is considered a luxury product, but just because your product is a luxury brand does not guarantee it will sell well in Asian markets. Despite this obvious fact, many companies launch products into market with fallacious conclusions and skewed strategic plans and often fail in executing their business objectives. These companies develop broad conclusions on how they should approach economies on the macro-level but fail to execute the results because they do not see the details in the micro-level. Many leaders may even suffer from “change blindness” because they focus on one aspect of the business and all its players, yet miss the 800 pound gorilla in the room. In order to avoid these obstacles, leaders must develop an objective approach to a more analytical perception of reality and all its intricacies. This article is the spectacles that will clarify and break down the important details of consumer behaviors in Asia’s largest markets: China and Japan. Although these two countries have different tastes they both have an increasing demand for luxury goods. Companies that make luxury brands are increasing their investments and gaining market share despite a world that is in an economic downturn. It is therefore, imperative for companies to penetrate these emerging markets to gain their own market share and have a planned strategy to execute clear strategic vision.

In marketing, the goal is to find what people want and what people are buying and develop a strategy to deliver results to consumers and increase market share. The Asian market can be complex; however, there are similarities and trends one can identify to capitalize on a growing consumer segment. The challenge is that many US companies miss the mark in attempting to penetrate Asian markets because they approach the market with a broad brush hoping that some good ideas will stick. One major fallacy is that US companies group all three countries together and assume that they all have similar tastes and preferences, moderated by different income levels. The solution, therefore, is to perform a comparative analysis of consumer behaviors can help companies identify effective marketing strategies, and enable them to successfully penetrate these Asian markets.

To ensure success, companies must set aside narrow and risky assumptions, and tailor country specific strategies to target these consumers. The two major countries to target for luxury brands are Japan and China. Both countries have unique mechanisms that correlate to buying behaviors such as:

(1) brand orientation

(2) aspects dealing with domestic vs. foreign

(3) quality and price.

Brand Orientation

First, Japan of all the developed countries, this is the most brand-conscious and status-conscious. It is also intensely style-conscious: Consumers love high-end luxury goods (especially products from France and Italy), purchasing items such as designer handbags, shoes, and jewelry. It seems that a slumping economy has not inhibited its consumers. Japan has a highly group-oriented consumers are apt to select prestigious merchandise based on social class standards, and prefer products that enhance their status. Accordingly, they attach more importance to the reputation of the merchandise than to their personal social classes. Japan’s influence has spread to surrounding countries such as China and Korea. In Shanghai or Seoul, you can see the influence of Japan’s fashion trends and products (Jiang, Crystal and Kotabe, Masaaki, 2006).

China, roughly 10 million – 13 million Chinese consumers prefer luxury goods. The majority of them are entrepreneurs or young professionals working for foreign multinational firms. Recent studies found that 24% of the population, mostly in their 20s and 30s, prefer new products and considers technology important part of life. With higher education and purchasing power, this generation in brand and status conscious. It considers luxury goods to be personal achievements, bring higher social status. In China, purchasing behavior tends to vary regionally. Consumers in metropolitan areas follow fashions/trends/styles, prefer novelty items, and are aware of brand image and product quality. These consumers live on the eastern coast-in major cities such as Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, and Dalian.

Domestic vs. Foreign

Second, Japan, although is mostly dominated by local companies that are well established such as Canon, Sony, and Toyota, many global companies have managed to gain market share. In this market, Haagan Dazs Japan Inc succeeded the exit of Ben and Jerry’s, dominating the premium ice cream market with a 90% market share. It has successfully delivered the message of a “lifestyle-enhanced product” with word-of-mouth advertizing. The company flourished by promoting high quality with local appeal (Jiang, Crystal and Kotabe, Masaaki, 2006). Chinese companies can no longer view this country’s youth through the lens of traditional cultural values’ this generation considers international taste a key factor in making decisions (Jiang, Crystal and Kotabe, Masaaki, 2006).

Quality and Price

Thirdly, Japan compared with the Chinese and Korean consumers, have much higher expectations for products-and are willing to pay premium prices for them. Slogan such as Walmart’s “everyday low price” philosophy doesn’t seem to attract Japanese consumers, because they offer associate low price to low quality: yasu-karou, warukarou-cheap price, cheap product. Case study – McDonalds although McDonalds is known as a low cost food in the US. McDonlads in Japan has positioned itself a luxury item. Today, McDonalds Japan has grown to become the country’s largest fast-food chain (Jiang, Crystal and Kotabe, Masaaki, 2006).

Business leaders need to embrace three important concepts in order to have a successful marketing campaign.

• Successful products must be FBI: Functional Design – Beautiful Results — Imaginative Style

• Sticking to your strategy and values in an economic recession

• Be a thinking leader – Stick to your values and redirect marketing strategy focus.

In the mist of the global recession, companies are focusing on the emerging Asian markets, focusing on customer loyalty through mind-care marketing that focuses on building trust with their current customer base. For many companies, turning to Asia for growth has also paid off. Many companies are investing more than 60 percent of their investments in Asia Pacific.

In conclusion, company executives must remember that not all countries are created equally. By understanding and learning to appreciate the differences and the similarities between these three Asian purchasing giants, companies from other countries can immerse their organizations seamlessly.