The Japanese cosmetics maker tried to connect differences in lifestyles and environment with the differences in makeup habits among women in big Asian cities and in New York. “With the emergence of the internet and social media, women all over the world have instant access to the same kinds of information. In spite of this ubiquity of information, there are still great differences in the ways women from different regions and countries use makeup,” explains the Tokyo-based company.
Tokyo and Seoul
According to Kanebo, Japan and Korea are prominent examples. While sharing many features as geographic neighbours and a strong global influence in cosmetics, their ways of using makeup are very different.
At work, for instance, women in Tokyo and Seoul tend to think of makeup as a duty rather than a matter of choice. Women from both cities spend more time on makeup than women from other cities, but they enjoy the experience less. In Tokyo, makeup is synonymous with social etiquette (a tool for blending smoothly into the group), while in Seoul it is seen as a way to conceal blemishes (a tool for winning out in a competitive social environment).
Makeup and work
As far as makeup at work is concerned, Kanebo’s survey shows that dress codes are clearest in Beijing, Bangkok, and New York. In all three cities there are clear prescriptions on the use of makeup in the workplace. However, if companies in Seoul and Tokyo do not formulate specific dress codes it is also because women in these cities usually pay careful attention to their business outfits.
However, the survey also found that women take pleasure in makeup in cities where dress codes are important. When dress codes are stricter, makeup at work also tends to be more strongly linked to self-confidence and a sense of professionalism.
According to the survey, it is in Bangkok and Beijing that women make the most effort with their makeup when “going to work,” while women in Seoul do so when going out “on a date.” Compared with other cities, women in Tokyo make the most effort with their makeup when “going out with female friends.” Furthermore, it is in Seoul that women spend the most time on makeup and use the largest number of items.
“Women in Seoul clearly place great importance on personal growth and career advancement. In contrast, Tokyo women are only interested in career advancement when no trade-offs are required in their private lives. Women in New York believe in a work-life balance. Women in Bangkok are concerned mainly about earning a high income and tend to have highly positive attitudes towards work. Women in Taipei seek a sense of achievement and satisfaction in their work but are far less concerned about income than their peers in Bangkok,” concludes Kanebo.