Sorry, not for us
China is an enormous market, which makes it extremely attractive for foreign companies. But many of them are finding that it’s difficult to get established there.
Consumer products that sell well in the West are often less successful in China. Rexona deodorant, for example, did not do well there. Unilever, which owns the Rexona brand, put it on the Chinese market in 2008. As the company later discovered, fewer than ten per cent of Chinese people actually use deodorant.
“It has to be something visible or something you can smell,” Shanghai economist Ye Tan told The New York Times. “Deodorant fails partly because it is invisible.”
Deodorant marketing in the West focuses on shame. Consumers are told that sweat smells bad and that, without deodorant, they will lose friends and lovers. This doesn’t convince Chinese consumers, however, says Unilever manager Lucia Liu.
“The traditional thinking here is that sweating is good because it helps people detox,” Liu comments. “There is a marketing barrier that is really hard to overcome.”
Marketing cosmetics: know your customers