Speaking at the in-cosmetics Asia event in Bangkok, the analyst that each region has different cultures and perceptions of beauty and this is where the difference lies. If a marketer or brand can find the right language and benefits to promote to a particular audience, skin whitening products have great potential.
A Datamonitor survey found that 50% of Asian consumers say skin whitening is essential or highly sought after in skin care products; compared to 24% and 22% in the US and Western Europe respectively.
According to Chipalkatti, whitening products are popular in Asia as they give consumers a confidence boost as ‘fair’ skin is associated with youth, it is an aspirational mind-set to mimic the West, and cultural perceptions of dark skin denote a lower class.
Compare this with Western perceptions, and it is very different; skin tone-based advertising is a very sensitive subject. What may work in the East, most definitely won’t work in the West as beauty desires are different.
There have been many examples of products being marketed in the West focusing on whitening that were not well-received at all because of the language used and the benefits that were focused on.
One such recent example is of the health food chain Holland & Barrett, being criticised for stocking Dr Organic Royal Jelly Skin Body Whitening Cream which is intended to help people with age spots or sun-darkened skin, but equality campaigners said they were “shocked and quite disturbed” that a high street shop is “promoting a throwback to the racial hierarchies of colonialism and segregation”.
“Marketing and positioning is essential,” explains Chipalkatti. “Brands need to be careful how they market their products.”
The way to do this is by targeting the creams at different audiences depending on their demands, as skin whitening creams already address many of the top skin care concerns worrying consumers worldwide.
The opportunities in the market are evident in three trends that are influencing innovation, according to the Datamonitor expert, as the market for anti-ageing is bound to increase and depigmentation is considered part of this category now.
The three highlighted trends are:
- Health and wellness
- Easy and affordable
- Individualism and expressionism
“By being marketed in specific or different ways around the world, skin whitening products have great potential,” she ends.