Online advertising magazine Advertising Age recently outlined some of the more controversial instances of whitening-products advertising in the region, including a competition aimed at students in Thailand run by Unilever last year.
But while it may concern some in the West, Asian consumers are buying into the trade with ever increasing enthusiasm, reflected in the segment’s steady growth.
Over the preceding four years, 30% of the prestige facial products launched in Asia featured skin whitening claims according to research firm Mintel; in the first half of 2014, that figure has shot up to over 38%.
Despite various controversial incidents connected with the craze – including a recent billboard in a US mall by a Korean brand, which featured the tagline ‘So you wanna be white?’ – the trend is pressing on.
According to recent research from Companies and Markets, globally, the trend is forecast to reach a value of US$19.8 billion by 2018.
Ensuring product safety is a key concern for brands during the segment’s upcoming growth, especially in light of the recent furor around the widespread skin damage caused by Japanese brand Kanebo’s lightening products.
The company acknowledges that nearly 15,000 customers have been injured by the defective products, who are now seeking damages ranging from 5 million yen to nearly 50 million.
However, despite this, figures show that consumer appetite for the trend remains largely unaffected, with Japan still the largest market for the lightening segment worldwide, confirming the huge popularity of such products.
An increasing number of women from the Asia Pacific region are now entering the consumer base in in Western countries, including the US and Canada.
Members of this demographic in Canada, according to the Euromonitor data, “are not satisfied with what mainstream retail in Canada has to offer, thereby creating further opportunities for imported brands and ethnic retailers to drive category growth.”