Sociology of shampoo 2

Shiseido didn’t have much of a new twist to its marketing campaign for its new white version of the now red Tsubaki shampoo.
The shampoo has been a hit here.
But the launch for the revamped Tsubaki played up much of the same themes _ and even the same women.

Chatter on the sociology of shampoo

My article is stirring up a lively discussion.
But …
Did I ever say there were never any Japanese women in ads before?
That’s a rather absurd idea, isn’t it?
The story is about the success Shiseido has had with a new marketing drive that sends the message about “beautiful Japanese women,” and hired a bunch of famous women, not just one.
My earlier blog post on the sociology of shampoo.
Looking at gender and ethnicity is one good way to tell a story about Japan _ or any society _ because the “master traits” delve so deeply into our makings on who/where we are in each society.
And one way to get blog attention.

Sociology of shampoo

The success of Shiseido’s shampoo marketing offered me an opportunity to tell the story about Japanese women and their changing self-perception.
Beauty standards may seem trite _ more about self-asborbed conceit than anything else.
But the right to define beauty and see oneself (race, ethnicity, culture) as beautiful is an essential part of human rights.
One of the women I interviewed, Kaori Sasaki, a business consultant who has a Web page called ewoman, says today’s Japanese woman strives to be simple and organic in their lifestyles.
But that doesn’t mean she has to be digging around on a farm, growing vegetables.
The other key word is gorgeous, she says.
And so that ideal modern-day Japanese woman can be eating organic food and have down-to-earth values, but she may put on a glittering dress and go out.
She gets to have fun.
Still, looking at Race and Beauty never fails to get a bit depressing.
The combination seems to speak to the worst of our fetishes.
A feminist professor I spoke with, Teruko Inoue, told me the barriers of sex are especially pronounced in Japan because there aren’t as many other obvious non-gender ways to divide people for hierachical definitions as there are in other societies such as caste, race and ethnic groups.
So females have become synonymous with the underclass, the easiest to corner into exploitable labels.
Women have come to define the bottom rung of this allegedly (mythically) homogenous society.
This is insightful: Part-time workers are almost all female in Japan.
And women are grossly under-represented in Japanese management.
It’s hard being a woman in Japan.
And we’re so happy to be told, “Japanese women are beautiful,” we rushed out and bought shampoo!
Watch the TV ads here, and listen to the hit Smap tune, a Tsubaki original.
I don’t know why Unilever doesn’t retaliate with a Japanese version of the far more progressive Dove ads.
But maybe that concept won’t fly in Japan.
Shiseido meanwhile has more up its sleeve: a white Tsubaki.
The campaign blitz starts September: Stay tuned.

Cute culture

How do you sell a car that’s made by your rival and package it so that it sells for a higher price? Nissan’s Pino is a picturebook lesson in how marketing works to place a product in the consumer’s consciousness so that it becomes more desirable than what it is. What makes something cute? When is beige cute (fashionable) and when is it drab (yucky)? See a photo here of a proud Pino owner and her mom. And here. You may think it’s about duping the buyer, but is it? A car is a car is a car. And what you pay for these days is as much about perception/image and experience/feeling as the THING you end up owning.