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Sandra Braga

Crossing the borders: the internationalization of beauty

Local beauty rituals across the world are increasingly influenced by other cultures. New makeup, hair and skin care products are offered to consumers from increasingly globalised brands and media. Thus, more than ever, beauty professionals need to be prepared to adjust their brands to different cultural realities. On the one hand, consumers keep their quirks and habits; on the other, these habits are submitted to abundant interferences driven by new practices and the willingness to test new ways and to give up old beauty patterns.

Photo: © Mindscanner /

Photo: © Mindscanner /

New beauty habits worldwide

Digitalisation accelerates the access to general information, helping news about product innovations to cross territorial boundaries faster than the brands themselves. Within this context, consumers are those who are launching new consumption habits and behaviours.

An example is the case of the Brazilian Blowout hair straightening technique that became a global trend through massive mediatisation. It is sometime said that Brazilian Blowout started booming globally when American hair stylists working for famous personalities adopted it. Others argue that Brazilian hair care techniques and beauty practices are globally inspiring. The fact is that in that case the Brazilian know-how circulated worldwide.

Adaptation to local habits

Studying consumer habits and behaviours not only help to decipher what needs to be adapted into a new context, but also to point out what can be built. When Italian brand Kiko exported itself into the French market, it had to find how to address strong local competition. Kiko did not hesitate to build upon the same design and services at low prices which were already known in Italy. Within four years the brand launched more than one hundred stores in France. Responding to a very demanding clientele, Kiko created a new consumption habit named ‘Beauty to go’, revealing a strategy targeting young Parisian fashionistas, higly sensitive to the quality of product packaging and looking for products that fit in their purse and for services that do not require wasting time. And at prices that young people can afford.

Each group of consumers has its own series of habits and desires that usual clichés cannot reveal. To say that American are crazy about nail polish, that Japanese use more than six creams in their beauty rituals and that French women never leave home without mascara will not result in great achievements for appealing to a new clientele. That’s what Garnier learned when the brand was launched in India. Researches showed the brand would have to adapt the size of its packaging in this market since mini-sized formats were the only fitting with people’s habits and purchasing power.

Giving up old patterns

While at the beginning of the internationalization process, adapting the product mix, the packaging and even the brand message is synonymous with risk reduction, over time marketers tend to acquire new learning. When expanded to Brazil, L’Occitane was a 100% French brand deeply rooted in the southern region of Provence. The products had high prices due to high export taxes. Over time, the brand was able to adapt itself to the Brazilian context; L’Occitane not only offered discounts to Brazilian customers but created a new market expertise and launched entirely Brazilian products. From ingredients to design, the interaction of French and Brazilian cultures was so rich that the products also reached shelves in France and worldwide.

Brand internationalisation therefore goes beyond mere territorial expansion, the process ends up when customers change their old patterns and mix them global beauty criteria. Without any prejudice to local customs, new concepts add new sensorial features, including a mixture of smells, colours and pictures and introduce different rituals and techniques that make room for further innovations and launches that generate advances within the whole beauty industry.

Sandra Braga

© 2015 - Brazil Beauty News -

about Sandra Braga

After having provided consultancy in business strategy and brand building for different companies, Sandra has created its own network on the French market. She became an expert in various industrial sectors and today provides programs for Brazilian companies seeking to expand their brand in Europe and target European customers.

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