When Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB/) brought its Veet hair-removal cream to China in 2005, sales were sluggish. Its prices were considered too high and its product sizes too large. But the biggest problem: Most Chinese women don’t have much body hair, and those who do didn’t worry about it. So the company embraced a new marketing plan. Reckitt Benckiser rolled out ads equating hair-free skin with health, confidence, and “shining glory.” In the process, the company has helped make many Chinese women more conscious of every stray follicle. “It’s not how much hair you have, it’s how much you think you have,” says Aditya Sehgal, the company’s China chief. “If your concern level is high enough, even one hair is too much.” (via Convincing Women in China They’re Too Hairy - Businessweek)
- By encouraging fuzz phobia, Veet is now the fastest-growing brand in China for Britain’s Reckitt Benckiser. Asian sales of hair remover are rising 20 percent annually, almost double the rate of women’s razors and blades, Euromonitor International reports.
- In the $427 billion global personal-care products business, manufacturers have long convinced women to focus on perceived flaws. Estée Lauder (EL) and L’Oréal (OR) sell skin-whitening creams in China, where women have long been fixated on lighter skin, according to Harriet Evans, a professor of Chinese cultural studies at the University of Westminster. Sehgal says his company is not “here to remind the Chinese how much hair they have. Our job is to talk about the fact that beautiful smooth skin is critical and grooming is critical. Women make their own conclusions as to what that means.”
indeed. “Chinese women are too independent minded to be coaxed into buying a product they don’t need.”