A Unified Image of Beauty?

Question: Is beauty becoming homogenized?

Geoffrey\r\n Jones: I think most of the 20th Century saw a huge wave of this \r\nhomogenization, but I think it’s also important to remember that this \r\nwave of homogenization was never complete. And this proved to be really \r\ndifficult for companies as they sought to globalize the industry. To \r\ngive some examples... So as companies pushed out their brands and went \r\nto different markets, they discovered, often to their surprise that \r\ndifferent cultures, different societies continued to have some very \r\ndistinct preferences that were very hard to shift. 

So, the \r\nUnited States was a huge consumer of makeup. Europeans and East Asians \r\nspend much greater on skin care. East Asians hardly spent on perfume and\r\n whatever companies did, they have so far failed to raise that. The \r\nFrench had disproportionate spending on perfumes. So for all the \r\nhomogenization going on in how we meant to be beautiful, persistent \r\nnational differences were still noticeable. And my argument is that \r\nglobalization in the last 20 years has started to work in the opposite \r\ndirection from how it worked previously. I think globalization is \r\nspreading diversity now rather than constricting it. And there's a \r\nnumber of reasons why this is happening. One is that in the major \r\nwestern nations, the United States or France, populations are ethnically\r\n very diverse now, so there was simply a lot of different marketing \r\nopportunities that companies wish to take advantage of. 

But also\r\n the rise of power and wealth of countries like China, India, and \r\nRussia, is suddenly making their beauty ideals aspirational, perhaps. \r\nCertainly impossible to ignore. So the major players in the industry now\r\n are very interested in supplying those markets, for sure. But also \r\nexperimenting with taking their beauty ideals and brands derived from \r\nthose ideals back to western countries as consumers now increasingly \r\nseek greater diversity in what it means to be beautiful.

Recorded on April 21, 2010

The concept of what is beautiful is becoming broader and broader.

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