Marketing agency, Sturm und Drang, were interviewed by Cossma Magazine recently and revealed the cultural codes of beauty across continents. Europe, US and Japan are distinctly different in the perception and meaning of beauty.
In Europe, particularly in Germany, true beauty is not visible on the surface. It comes from your personality; it is all about charisma and individuality. German beauty routines are fairly uncomplicated and take about 20 minutes a day. The focus is on the eyes and how we express our personality through our eyes. It is all about how we feel, what we eat and how we look after our soul. It is not about applying a product onto the surface. To respond to advertising, the Germans need “a reason to believe”; they are always asking questions and looking for “the truth”.
In the US, beauty is all about shine – glossy hair and “whiter than white” teeth. Beauty comes from the outside and American women put lots of effort into making themselves look attractive. Their routine is about an hour a day and a lot stricter than in Europe. However, it is limited to their professional life and happily abandoned at weekends. It says, “I am in control”. Advertising in the US focuses on the benefit, on the “object of desire”, on visual attributes. “This is it. Do you want it? What you see is what you get”.
Beauty in Japan is all about purity “down to the pore”. It is all about looking young! Japanese women spend 2 hours a day on their beauty routines, particularly cleansing, detoxing and UV protection – applying as many as 5 layers of skincare. Being cute equals being sexy. Advertising is about the context of the product usage. “How do I feel afterwards?”
Richard Lewis, the crosscultural guru, suggests that Britain’s cultural position mirrors the geographical – it is between the US and continental Europe. Do you feel that may be true for how we perceive beauty too?