Hair removal company Veet introduced its depilatory creams to the Chinese market in the mid-2000s. Much to their dismay, Chinese women weren’t exactly interested. Many of them had little to no body hair to speak of, and those that did weren’t concerned about it. Excess body hair in the West is seen as a major beauty blunder on women, and the process of removing it lines up with other basic grooming practices like hair cuts, manicures, and skincare. So when Veet wasn’t selling like hotcakes in the East Asian country, the company took matters into their own hair-free hands: they convinced Chinese women that hair removal was as normal as brushing their teeth.
In 2004, new ad campaigns for Veet urged Chinese consumers to use their product for overall beautification rather than strictly hair removal purposes. A hair-free body is associated with beauty, health, and cleanliness. Popular actress Yang Mi is a spokesperson for the brand, driving Chinese women to pick up the product. And by selling smaller bottles of Veet, women were more likely to try it out. With these careful marketing changes in place, Veet has seen a 20% annual growth in sales—that’s double the rate of women’s razors.
“It’s not how much hair you have, it’s how much you think you have,” says Aditya Sehgal, the company’s China chief. “If your concern level is high enough, even one hair is too much.”
Somewhat defensive, Sehgal says that Veet isn’t trying to make anyone self-conscious. “We are not here to remind the Chinese how much hair they have,” Sehgal said. “Our job is to talk about the fact that beautiful smooth skin is critical and grooming is critical. Women make their own conclusions as to what that means.”
In employing the marketing changes for China, Veet followed the same pattern it used in another international destination: India. In 2004, the company stepped up its game to Indian consumers by targeting women “for whom grooming is part of how she gets a promotion, a good husband, and a raise,” said Mintel China analyst Paul French. China’s strategy is to tout “silky femininity” related to hair removal.
To date, Veet is only available in about 25 major cities in China. The advertising campaigns began in Ghangzhou, a city flooded with college students and young professionals. Beijing and Shanghai also offer Veet. Users can ask on-campus representatives for tips on how to use Veet, or they can even check out how-to videos posted online.
Despite Veet’s tremendous growth in China, razors still remain as the top way for women to remove unwanted hair—they’re cheap, foolproof to the seasoned shaver, and they definitely work. Depilatories offer the benefit of staving off stubble for a few days, but the powerful chemicals tend to sting the surrounding skin. Waxing is less popular in China that in it is the U.S., with few specialty salons offering the service and even fewer at-home products available.
Laser hair removal permanently reduces hair growth from all over the body. A range of people find the treatment useful and preferable to shaving, particularly those who are bothered by ingrown hairs, stubble, and the inconvenience of constant shaving. To learn more about laser hair removal or to schedule a consultation with a provider in your area, contact us today! Or, browse our free directory to find a laser hair removal specialist in your area.