Beauty and the Beast
Having recently spent several weeks in South Korea I had the opportunity to witness first-hand all of the bizzarely wonderful naturally derived products that are now making their way across the Pacific. Snail slime. Charcoal. Bird excrement, donkey milk. Pig collagen. These are all now focal ingredients in mainstream, and premium beauty brands. Some of these products have begun to hit American shelves and it struck me that their proliferation probably has less to do with finding new ways to tap into nature, and more about marketers finding new ways to tap into an increasingly beauty obsessed global culture.
What is it about beauty that leaves us always wanting more?
For all of our discussion of finding beauty in the natural, the imperfect, we remain on our quixotic quest for that ever-distant fountain of youth. For sure we can blame our role models, who are increasingly twisted. Reality stars with in-house makeup artists. Plastic surgery on-demand. Filters and constant retouching that suspends reality. The list goes on.
As always, some marketers are seeing things differently. Dove recently launched a viral video that showed women choosing to go through a doorway deeming them “average” or “beautiful.” The resulting action is touching and insightful if not groundbreaking. Dove has been running their "Campaign for Real Beauty" for some time in various forms. More brands like Always and Under Armour are also now circumventing the question of beauty, choosing instead to focus on female strength agility and bravery. It would be nice to think that these efforts will be enough to stem the tide of today’s superficiality, but the rate of product innovations that promise dramatic rejuvenation suggests otherwise.
Alas, another generation of snails, pigs and lactating donkeys must continue their sacrifice in the name of beauty.