As any BRIC beauty marketer knows, an effective time to target women is when they’re facing life transition points. Adolescence, college, the first job, divorce – it’s at life transition points like these that looking good and feeling good takes on added importance, causing women to seek out new products and establish new beauty regimens. Life changes inspire change in brand loyalties.
For women living in China, those life transition points may be important, but what may be even more important are the huge societal transition points these women are facing as China surges ahead economically and socially. The rise of a middle class, migration from the countryside to the city, increased adoption of western values, the changing view of womanhood and what it means to be a “good woman” versus a “bad woman”, the maturing of the one-child policy – these huge social changes trickle down to new wants, desires and needs for individual women. We believe there’s a huge opportunity for companies to gain an advantage by deeply understanding how these societal transition points translate to new beauty needs and behaviors, and ultimately brand innovation.
Identifying where changes in traditions and beliefs lag the change in wealth can be one way to uncover new needs. The rapid growth in affluence in China is leading to a rapid growth in obesity, estimated at a 30-50% increase annually. Perhaps that’s not a surprise in a country that has had to worry more about famine than fat cells and likes its babies chubby because that means they’re healthy and strong. This societal step-change in body size opens the doors for companies like Weight Watchers to gain a foothold, especially if they can help Chinese consumers cope with the societal changes and better compete in an increasingly sophisticated world for both jobs and mates.
Whether it’s a growth in girth driven by growing affluence or a desired boost in bust size as woman put more emphasis on the beauty of their bodies, the times in China are changing quickly. The fortunes can too for companies that help Chinese consumers navigate these complex and evolving societal transition points.
Targeting university students, who will be first in line to join the middle class, is one effective strategy for companies to benefit from China’s growing prosperity. L’Oreal has been conducting on-campus cosmetics sales at universities since 2003, with proceeds of the sales going toward its L’Oreal Educational Assistance of the Poor program and L’Oreal Fund for the Mental Health & Education of the Poor which offer financial assistance to help college students complete their studies.