How to Get Ahead in Chinese Advertising
So deeply rooted, says Tom Doctoroff, is the Western belief in individual freedom, that it is nearly impossible for us to accept the fact that in Chinese culture, the individual does not exist outside of her network of familial and communal obligations.
What's the Big Idea?
Okay. Right off the bat I’m going to have to acknowledge that this is a minefield: an article on a Western website featuring a (China-based) Westerner’s expert opinion on Chinese psychology.
But here’s the thing: Tom Doctoroff is really, really good at selling products to Chinese consumers. In a long and successful advertising career, much of it spent in Hong Kong, he has managed to avoid many of the marketing pitfalls that Western brands often fall prey to in China, due to their cluelessness about their own (Western) cultural assumptions, and how these differ from those of the Chinese.
Because no matter how badly we may want to believe that each of us is a unique individual, free from any culturally stereotypical thinking, that idea is itself a Western construct, and proof that exactly the opposite is the case.
Tom Doctoroff on how Chinese collectivism shapes consumer habits
So deeply rooted, says Doctoroff, is the Western belief in individual freedom, that it is nearly impossible for us to accept the fact that in Chinese culture, the individual does not exist outside of her network of familial and communal obligations. Apple’s “Think Different” campaign, for example, wouldn’t appeal to Chinese consumers, who prefer to “stand out by fitting in.” In China, conspicuous consumption – of 100 year old Corvoisier or a flashy car – is a sign of upstanding citizenship rather than a mark of personal distinction.
Take shampoo, for example. American shampoo commercials typically show a woman luxuriating first in the sensory pleasures of a hot shower, then in the attention she gets by tossing her luxuriant locks from side to side in public. Chinese women, say Doctoroff, do not want to attract the overt attention of random passers-by. Nor do they want to see themselves as focused on private sensory pleasures.
Realizing this, Proctor and Gamble markets its Rejoice shampoo in China as giving women the confidence to move through their professional lives, knowing that their hair is soft. In other words, outward-focused social success without any awkward, attention-getting edges.
Haagen Dazs, too, has adapted its brand to the Chinese market, focusing on public parlors where consumers can demonstrate their sophistication publicly by paying premium prices for ice cream, something they would never do simply to scarf down a pint in the privacy of their own homes.
And right now, most likely, a blogger somewhere in China is writing a post entitled "How to Win Over the American Consumer" with a shampoo brand called "You!"
The point here goes way beyond marketing, though.
What's the Significance?
As globalization proceeds apace and the world’s markets become increasingly, inextricably interconnected, Westerners will confront the notion that individualism is not a god-given right but rather a lifestyle choice. And we may benefit from a bit of reflection upon the selfishness and narcissism that are sometimes the flipside of the entrepreneurial spirit.
Likewise, in spite of the best attempts of the Chinese government to fortify the Great Firewall, Western ideas will exert ever-greater influence in the East, resulting in new cultural hybrids that will keep advertising professionals busy for decades to come.
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Whether or not women think beards are sexy has to do with "moral disgust"
- A new study found that women perceive men with facial hair to be more attractive as well as physically and socially dominant.
- Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength, social assertiveness, and formidability.
- Women who display higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, are more likely to prefer hairy faces.
Beards and perceptions of masculinity<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg0MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NzkxMjM3N30.cH-GqNwP5GVqvstgJWAhBPn1B_lYpVEAI0I7iax7EQw/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C1900%2C0%2C849&height=700" id="caae6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="cb0a355a4e8e1899789bc45f3f7aef56" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Photo Credit: Wikimedia<p>The study used 919 American (mostly white) women ages 18-70 who rated 30 pictures of men they were shown with various stages of facial hair growth. The photographs depicted men with faces that had been digitally altered to look more feminine or more masculine, with a beard and without a beard. The women rated the men according to perceived attractiveness for long-term and short-term relationships. The study found that the more facial hair the men had, the higher the men were rated on their attractiveness, particularly for their suitability for a long-term relationship.</p><p>Part of this might be attributed to facial masculinity — i.e. protruding brow ridge, wide cheekbones, thick jawline, and deeply set narrow eyes — which conveys information to a woman about a man's underlying health and formidability. Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength and social assertiveness. It can also indicate a man with a superior immune response. The researchers suggested that their findings favoring bearded men could be due to the fact that facial hair enhances the masculine facial features on a man's face, like creating the illusion of a thicker jaw line. This could communicate direct benefits to women like resources and protection that would enhance survival among mothers and their infants. In other words, while a beard doesn't mean superior genetics in and of itself, it might be a primitive, ornamental way of saying, "Hey girl, I'm a testosterone-fueled lean, mean, pathogen fighting machine." <br></p><p>It could also be that a beard becomes its own destiny. The researchers in this study cite prior research that found that by growing a beard, men felt more masculine and had higher levels of serum testosterone, which was linked to a higher level of social dominance. They also tended to subscribe to more old-school beliefs about gender roles in their relationships with women as compared to men with clean-shaven faces.<span></span><br></p>
What does disgust have to do with beard preference?<p>Obviously, not all women dig beards. The researchers were particularly interested in what traits make a women prefer bearded men over clean-shaven faces. They looked into several factors including a woman's disgust levels on various concepts, her desire to become pregnant, and her exposure to facial hair in her personal life. </p><p>According to the study, women who were not into facial hair were turned-off by potential parasites or other critters they imagined could be in the hair or skin. Women ranking high on this "ectoparasite disgust" scale might have viewed beards as a sign of poor grooming habits. However, women who ranked higher in levels of "pathogen" did find the bearded men to be desirable, possibly because they perceived beards as a signal of good health and immune function. An intriguing discovery in the study was links to morality. Women who displayed higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, were more likely to prefer hairy faces. The authors opined that this could reflect a link between beardedness, politically conservative outlooks, and traditional views regarding performances of masculinity in heterosexual relationships.</p>
Additional findings<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg1My9vcmlnaW4uZ2lmIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNDI1NjUyOX0.P9B8WbmJR0q4nfzYZKbuNSA-2SAigVWJgrQE-_Gxlds/img.gif?width=980" id="49143" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2ed3b1d6f20fc170bf2974646e565e8d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />Giphy<p>The correlations that existed between married and single women's rating on the attractiveness of beards were not particularly clear, although the researchers noted that single and married women who wanted children tended to find beards more attractive than the women who didn't want children. They also found that women with bearded husbands found beards to be more attractive, which might indicate that social exposure to beards influences how desirable they are perceived of as being. Or it could be that men with wives who like beards grow beards.</p><p>It's important to note that culture plays a huge role in how attractive women perceive certain male characteristics as being. This study looked at a small, culturally specific group of American women, so no big, universal claims should be made about masculinity, facial hair, and male desirability to women. However, research like this is important in highlighting how human grooming decisions are driven by much more than fashion trends. Sociobiological, economic, and ecological factors all play a part in the way we choose to present ourselves.</p>
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