Book Review: Branded Beauty – How Marketing Changed The Way We Look

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.

The Synopsis

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.

Where is my story?*

Despite this, I really enjoyed the book and would recommend it to beauty enthusiasts, marketing students and professionals and aspiring  business leaders alike!

Buy ‘Branded Beauty’ on Amazon or Waterstones (saving up to £3.80 on the cover price)!

* Image: ‘African Beauty’ by Artbeat

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7 Comments on “Book Review: Branded Beauty – How Marketing Changed The Way We Look”

  1. Mark Tungate says:

    Hello. I’m Mark, the author of the book. My publisher very kindly sent me a link to your blog. First of all, I’d like to thank you for an extremely positive and enthusiastic review. It’s always a pleasure to learn that somebody has enjoyed my work.

    I wanted to briefly address your comment about the book having a European/Caucasian bias.

    In my defence, I suspect this says more about the history of the beauty industry than anything else. I do mention that brands like Bobbie Brown and M.A.C. started in part because their founders felt that cosmetics did not reflect the full range of skin tones they came across in the work as make-up artists. I also try to find an explanation for the beauty industry’s obsession with fair skin and the potentially negative message of skin-lightening creams.

    Having said that, industry attitudes are changing and I fully agree that there is an entire book to be written about beauty for black consumers. I feel unqualified to write it, but if you ever decide to take on that challenge, I’d certainly be delighted to read it. I have a lot to learn. In the meantime, I’m happy to have discovered your blog and honoured to be featured on it.

    Warm regards,

    Mark Tungate

    • beautypulselondon says:

      Hi Mark!

      Wow!

      Thanks so much for reading my post.

      I take your comments on board – and I appreciate that you could only work with the sources and information that is currently available, but I have to emphasise again how much I enjoyed the book, I was so happy that I saw the feature in Stylist mag…so kudos to the PR team at Kogan Page!

      Thanks again,

      Natalie

  2. Maylana says:

    Wow, this is a very well thought out and interesting article(I’m glad I’m following you). As someone who worked in the beauty industry when I lived in London (before emigrating to the States) I totally understand what this book is about regarding the ins and outs of the cosmetic industry. I can tell you stories of some of the disconcerting issues working within the industry especially when working on the Estee Lauder counters, I will not go into all of it here on your post, but for we women of colour, there was definetly a different set of rules at the time and we’re talking about the 80’s here. One of my favourite houses was Kanebo, a Japanese brand, which I’m not sure is still sold over there. They loved women of colour on their counters, Dior, Chanel and YSL loved us too, but you really didn’t see “me” in their print ad campaigns at that time either, (but you did on the runway) things have changed a little, now you may see one or two of us in a print campaign in Harpers and Elle, et al. I’m going to try to see if I can purchase this book here in the States and if not I’ll ask my sister to go to WH Smiths or Borders in the West End, to see if she can find a copy for me. I’m hoping you get a lot of discussion and feedback on this topic, it’s a very simulating piece.

    • beautypulselondon says:

      Thanks so much Maylana! I am glad you enjoyed the post. We are a world away from the 80’s and things have gotten better, but there is still room for improvement for women of colour in the UK!

      You should be able to buy the book online…have you tried Amazon.com?

  3. Maylana says:

    Thanks, I already found it on Amazon and placed my order. I’m looking forward to reading it. Congratulations regarding the author contacting you!

  4. […] Book Review: Branded Beauty – How Marketing Changed The Way We Look – The beauty industry is a very interesting topic for me. As a business student I’m always studying different industries but I’ve lately started to apply my interests to my studies. Beauty! By doing so, I get a deeper insight into the industry that I want to enter and it keeps my studies from getting boring. After coming across this book review, I purchased the book immediately and I’m using it for a marketing assignment I’m writing. Anyone interested in business, beauty, both or the industry then you should get it! […]

    • beautypulselondon says:

      Thanks for mentioning my post! Glad that you brought the book! I too am working on entering the beauty industry (going really well!) So this book was invaluble!
      All the best with your studies!


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