Beauty Imagined – hemligheterna bakom den globala skönhetsindustrin

Beauty ImaginedDet är inte varje dag en professor från Harvard Business School lanserar ett nytt verk i Stockholm. Men det hände häromdagen då Geoffrey Jones, som innehar Harvards prestigefyllda Isidor Straus-professur i Business History, presenterade sin nya bok Beauty Imagined –A History of the Global Beauty Industry.

Redan i bokens introduktion noterar Jones två uppseendeväckande fakta. Den globala skönhetsindustrin är enorm, den omsätter 330 miljarder USD årligen. Och trots det finns det mycket lite skrivet om dess historia inom tidigare ekonomisk forskning. Jones tyckte därför det var på tiden att kartlägga den. Hans senaste studier runt global konsumtion lockade honom att gå vidare. Inte minst tack vare de fakta han fick fram då han arbetade med sin bok om Unilever, ett av världens största företag inom den globala konsumtionsindustrin.

Jones använder tre perspektiv för att kartlägga skönhetsindustrin: vem och vilka byggde den, hur utvecklades den globalt, och hur har dessa företag marknadsfört och konstruerat idéer om skönhet?

Arbetet var inte lätt. Branschen är extremt hemlig och var generellt ovillig att lämna ut data. ”Det faktum att jag var en seriös medelålders manlig forskare från Harvard Business School hjälpte naturligtvis till” erkänner Jones. Öppenheten i arkivsammanhang var betydligt större i Sverige än i exempelvis Frankrike. Därför finns också flera svenska företag nämnda i boken, t ex Pierre Robert och Oriflame. Inte minst uppskattades tillgången till material i arkiven på Centrum för Näringslivshistoria i Stockholm. Här fick Jones också hjälp av sin svenska forskningsassistent Oona Ceder (PhD och forskare vid HBS).

Jones förhoppning är att detta första kartläggande skall öka industrins prestige i akademiska sammanhang. ”This book will open up the field and I hope to make a statement – and that other scholars will follow and treat this like a serious business which it is” säger Jones. För så har det tydligen inte varit hittills. Jones erkänner att många av hans kolleger inom Business History undrat vad han egentligen höll på med när han gav sig in i ett så bisarrt område som skönhetsindustrin. Ytligt, oseriöst. Kvinnligt och därför à priori ointressant för djupgående forskning. Känns reaktionerna igen? Parallellerna med modeindustrin är påfallande. Här ser man en industri som visar upp en häpnadsväckande global utveckling under de senaste 200 åren men som på samma gång setts över axeln i akademiska sammanhang.

elizabeth-arden

Elizabeth Arden

Jones analys är också tankeväckande. Kreativitet och passion för sitt yrke har varit drivande krafter bakom de stora namnen i industrin. Påfallande många är kvinnor – drivande entreprenörer som på samma gång varit känsliga för trender och nya strömningar i samhället. Något de sedan tolkat in i sina produkter och märken.

Jones argumenterar att skönhetsindustrin reflekterar och tolkar redan existerande samhällsnormer och uppfattningar. Men den omformar dem också till budskap som blir ett slags credo för marknaden. Denna lyhördhet för ”samhällstrender” kan vara diskutabel: här har vi en industri som skickligt utnyttjat kontroversiella frågor om ålder, etnicitet och genus i märkesbyggande och marknadsföring. Riktigt intressant blir Jones resonemang då han försöker tolka dagens globala spridning av internationella märken. Kan man sälja samma skönhetsideal över hela världen? Svaret blir att ”globalism” nu får konkurrens av ”tribalism” – små lokala märken, baserade på nationella skönhetsideal växer. Nischtänkande får större plats och har chans att hävda sig mer än tidigare.

Jag sträckläste Beauty Imagined. Här finns mycket att reflektera över, inte minst för den modeintresserade. Skönhetsindustrin har levt i en osynlig symbios med modeindustrin. Samma passion för kreativitet, samma försök att tolka tidens Zeitgeist. Och samma mål att förmå oss människor att köpa (som Jones kallar det) ”aspirations”, förhoppningar om att kunna skapa en personlighet och ett uttryck som speglar oss själva. Läs boken, det är den värd.

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This entry was posted in Konsumtion, Litteratur och källor, Nyheter. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

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6 Comments

  1. Magdalena
    Posted March 1, 2010 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    Jag måste genast skaffa boken! Tack för bra sammanfattning!

  2. Posted March 1, 2010 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

    Måste också läsa!

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