British Company Trying To Convince Not-Hairy Chinese Women They’re Actually Hairy So They’ll Buy Stuff

October 26th, 2012 | 0 comments | Posted by Jen

I can still remember that day in sixth grade P.E. when a classmate casually pointed out to me that I had leg hair–a fact I hadn’t noticed before–while every other girl in gym class grades sixth through eighth did not, due to their early induction into some Pre-Adolescent Depilation Illuminati group that no one, up to that point, had bothered to clue the immigrants’ kid in on.

While this sent me into a sudden shame spiral from which I’ve never quite recovered, my near-hairless mother failed to grasp the epicness of the knowledge that had just been dropped on me, and refused to buy me a razor.

“If you shave, the hair will only grow back thicker,” she said. “Besides, Chinese girls don’t have leg hair.”

Fortuitously, a year after that, my older brother started growing peach fuzz on his face, and when he got a razor, I got one to steal. After he cut his face a couple times on its dullness, he figured out what was happening and reported me to my parents, and I was finally given a razor of my own, mostly to prevent a sibling war.

I was reminded of all of this when I read that a British personal-care products company, Reckitt Benckiser Group, has been aggressively marketing hair-removal products to Chinese women by doing exactly what my gym classmate did to me all those years ago–appealing to their sense of shame. Businessweek reports that when Reckitt Benckiser first introduced the hair-removal product “Veet” to China in 2005, sales were slow because most Chinese women “don’t have much body hair, and those who do didn’t worry about it.” So Reckitt Benckiser began constructing a marketing plan to create a need for their product by…creating the worry. Aditya Sehgal, who heads up the company in China, describes their marketing strategy this way:

“It’s not how much hair you have, it’s how much you think you have. If your concern level is high enough, even one hair is too much.”

By putting out ads that associate body hair-free skin with “health, confidence, and ‘shining glory,’” Businessweek writes, Veet is now Reckitt Benckiser’s fastest-growing brand in China. In fact, sales of hair-removal creams all over Asia have been growing by 20% annually.

It’s like the Opium Wars all over again, only this time it’s about getting the Chinese hooked on depilatories instead of dope.

[Businessweek: Convincing Women in China They're Too Hairy]

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