Branding beauty: Indigenous knowledge to the forefront

Yacob, Shakila (2009) Branding beauty: Indigenous knowledge to the forefront. In: Joint Annual Meeting of the Business History Conference and of the European Business History Association, 11-13 June 2009, Milan, Italy. (Unpublished)

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Around the world, beauty has been constructed and expressed in myriad ways in different cultures and through different phases of history. Indeed, constructions and perceptions of beauty are in constant flux, however gradual the change. In Malaysia, in recent years, the notion of beauty has been undergoing significant transformation for at least one segment of the population. A number of fledgling companies are finding success with certain products that are based on the notion of beauty being tied to inward, as opposed to outward appearances. Through interviews with managers and owners in three such emerging companies, and a consumer survey of beauty products, this study reveals that there are three important factors inherent in the appeal of this new approach in the ongoing commercialisation of beauty. Specifically, that indigenous knowledge of herbs is generally held and diffused by women, that women are founders, managers and users of the products, and that these companies are family-owned with technical or scientific expertise being outsourced to add credibility and increase commercial viability. In addition, this study found that the companies evolved from home-based to shop-front businesses and diversified from being beauty-based product producers to 'lifestyle' companies. All three used masstige pricing strategies, targeting attainable luxury products at the growing middle-class. Tapping into the more traditional and cultural practices of personal healthcare and lifestyle has opened up a niche market with the advantage of indigenous knowledge, to which foreign competition has very limited access. This study asserts that by utilising such indigenous knowledge and appealing to cultural and religious identity, new companies can be successful even when competing in a crowded market dominated by foreign multinationals.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Branding; beauty; indigenous knowledge; forefront
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > Business
Divisions: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Depositing User: Mr. Mohd Samsul Ismail
Date Deposited: 28 May 2014 07:22
Last Modified: 05 Jul 2022 04:38

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