Book Review: Branded Beauty – How Marketing Changed The Way We LookPosted: January 25, 2012
There is something that I adore just as much as my beloved beauty industry and that is reading! I love disappearing into the pages (or sometimes the auditory world) of a tantalising, engrossing book!
I am a bit of a geek to be honest (albeit a very glamorous one, if I say so myself!!), and I think you can see form the nature of my blog posts that I like to thoroughly investigate my themes and offer an informative view on the world of beauty. As a beauty insider, I am not only passionate about the amazing products that are launched, but also about the business of beauty itself – I am enthralled by the innovation and creativity that is exhibited and I also love watching videos such as this too (I told you I was a geek)!!
As I mentioned in a previous post the global beauty industry is worth billions of (US) dollars and here in the UK, a recent market research report produced by Euromoniter, stated that the beauty industry was the most resilient (non-food) sector within retail during the tumultuous years following the economic implosion of 2008 . As a nation, looking good is very, very important to us!
So how excited was I when I saw this book featured in an issue Stylist Magazine late last year….
….. a book combining both of my passions – beauty and the business of beauty!
The book is authored by Mark Tungate, a British journalist who currently resides in Paris. His credentials include authoring several books on fashion and luxury marketing , writing for broadsheet newspapers such as The Times and the The Independent and he also teaches courses on branding and advertising at the Parsons Paris School Art and Design.
In “Branded Beauty” Tungate delves into the history and evolution of the beauty business. From luxury boutiques in Paris to tattoo parlours in Brooklyn, he talks to the people who’ve made skin their trade. He analyses the marketing strategies used by those who create and sell beauty products. He visits the labs where researchers seek the key to eternal youth. He compares attitudes to beauty around the world and examines the rise of organic beauty products.
As it was published in 2011, it is bang up to date – and covers the changing marketing communication channels – with the rise of social media and the increasing influence the beauty blogger posses – and the effect this is having on the industry.
The book is written in a pithy style, that is very accessible and not loaded with technical jargon. I really enjoyed charting the journey of the development of the beauty industry and was fascinated by the fact that many of the strategies that were devised all those years ago (such as ‘Gift with Purchase’ ) are still the mainstay of the industry today.
I also enjoyed reading about the impeccable women that have shaped this global industry – Lauder, Arden, Rubenstein…to name a few. Their emphatic belief in the utility of their products and the sheer determination and drive they deployed to ensure that their vision came to pass was truly inspirational. It is often said that the beauty industry is frivolous and sells nothing but ’empty promises and hope in a jar’ – but ‘hope’ does not forge multi-billion dollar businesses – tenacity, perseverance and passion do. Tungate quotes the late Estee Lauder who said of her enterprise;
“I didn’t get [here] by wishing or hoping for it, but by working for it”
Tungate’s investigation is candid and balanced and he does not aim to sugar coat aspects of the industry that can be somewhat disconcerting. I very much appreciated this, as I am a big believer in giving people the information for them to make an informed decision about how they feel about a subject or topic. He covers darker issues that surround the industry such the airbrushing of advertising, the impact of the ‘ anti aging’ phenomenon and the spectacular rise of cosmetic surgery- and the reasons why this is the case – however unlike other books about the industry, it does not focus solely on these ‘perils’ and does not damn the whole industry as a sardonic, money making, evil.
The book does have a very European/Caucasian bias though – only 8 of the 277 pages in the book talks about the diversity of the global beauty industry and only 2 pages specifically mentions the beauty of Black women.
How did the beauty industry develop outside of Europe and North America? What was happening in Asia Pacific, Australia and indeed Africa? As Tungate states in his book that only 3% of the people on the earth can be classified as Caucasian, it would have been interesting to have discover more about these women and the entrepreneurs that has served them.
Despite this, I really enjoyed the book and would recommend it to beauty enthusiasts, marketing students and professionals and aspiring business leaders alike!
* Image: ‘African Beauty’ by Artbeat