Home > General > The Business of Beauty, Part I

The Business of Beauty, Part I

I’ve begun reading Geoffrey Jones‘ (the Isidor Straus Professor of Business History at Harvard University) new book, Beauty Imagined. Rather than writing a traditional review, I’ll post comments about some of the information most relevant to the psychology of beauty as I read through the book. To start, humans spend $330 billion dollars a year (world-wide) on fragrances, cosmetics, and toiletries. Assuming 501 billion cups of coffee are consumed worldwide, it appears we spend about as much money on f,c & t’s as we do on coffee. But, rounding up, NATO spends close to 3x and the United States spends close to 2x that on military expenditures. L’Oreal is the world’s biggest beauty company and Procter & Gamble is number two. Avon is the biggest brand name, followed by Dove, then Pantene. There is significant variation in the types of beauty products that are consumed in different regions/nations:

  • Europeans, proportionally, spend more on fragrance and skin care than Americans
  • Americans likewise spend more on make-up than do Europeans
  • The Asian-Pacific region accounts for 6% of the fragrance market and 40% of the skin care market
  • China’s skin-care market is 4x the size of its make-up market
  • Skin-lightening products are significant in Asian markets, but not elsewhere

Another interesting point: the beauty industry makes health/hygiene products (like soap and toothpaste) and “artifice” products (like make-up, styling products for hair, etc.).

Wayne Hooke


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