How does the act of cleansing empower women? As a ritual, washing with water is seen as a symbolic and spiritual act of purification and renewal. As a daily routine, it is both about hygiene as it is about the deeper meaning of cleansing. It’s about self-care and, importantly, about creating valuable time for it. With it comes the renewal of self-confidence and self-empowerment that is so badly needed as we progress to the post-pandemic stage of our journeys.
For a top skin cleansing beauty brand such as LUX, current socioeconomic conditions have reinforced its key brand message of inspiring women to rise above everyday sexist judgements and to express their beauty and femininity unapologetically. It’s a poignant message that has strong implications globally, and it particularly resonates well in top Asia markets such as India, China and Indonesia.
Unlike skincare products which often highlight beauty care as key to looking good and feeling confident, products in the skin cleansing category are seen as perfunctory and basic in purpose. After all, these are products that consumers have to wash off, not keep on their skin. Therefore, brand messages that lay on too much of the beauty promise seem hollow and superficial.
However, for LUX, the brand walks the talk in wanting women to have strong self-confidence and pride in themselves. One of the ways is via the psychological impact of scents. Not just any lovely long-lasting scent, but a proprietary Everscent Essential Oil that releases the scent gradually throughout the day. With this timed-release fragrance technology from LUX, women are able to fully benefit from the psychological impact of scents.
Riding the Trend Waves
A study conducted by LUX in conjunction with the University of Liverpool tested the impact of its bestselling body wash on mood, and results showed that its magical orchid fragrance did make women feel more confident. “In China, women typically don’t shower in the morning, so it is especially important that the scents from our products last 24 hours to keep them feeling fresh and vibrant,” says Severine Vauleon, global brand VP for LUX.
She adds that in the China market, where LUX is the 1 #1 beauty brand and #2 skin cleansing brand with an 11% market share hold, the beauty trend of skinification is also an important one that highlights how LUX translates skincare for the face to the body as well. Consumers are increasingly aware of the need to enhance beauty by nourishing the skin rather than covering it up with makeup.
In South Asia and the Middle East, we see a similar trend on skinification. With this market insight, LUX has created a proprietary Pro-glow skincare technology for its soap bars to give consumers glowing skin. This is achieved by a) building a skin barrier to make it stronger, b) working on the melanin pathway to give an even skin tone, and c) providing a sacrificial layer so while the cleanser does the job of removing soap and grime, it is not harsh on the skin, shares Severine.
The personal care industry is competitive in Asia, especially in the skin cleansing category, as consumers display low brand loyalty with a high influence factor dictated by promotions and discounts. LUX has built up a strong brand shield that maintains consistent messaging in its communications that highlight women’s needs and rights as well as the superior quality of its products, which is proven and backed by science and technology.
Severine shares more on important trends. “Given the market’s competitiveness, we have to stay on top of trends and evolving needs. One of them is the importance of natural products, especially in China, where consumers have had so many issues with product safety and harmful ingredients. So, natural ingredients and naturally derived formulas are important. That’s the reason we’ve launched our botanicals range first in China, because there is a big need for them.
“Another is skinification, which I talked about earlier; it’s really permeating the whole beauty category and is a very big trend at the moment. Being able to deliver skincare benefits for the face to the body itself – and through the lathering process – is a hard thing to do, but LUX has succeeded with its innovative proprietary technology.
Lastly, LUX is addressing the wellness trend with its Art of the Bath collection, which is already launched in China and is now being rolled out to Southeast Asia. “We launched a bath ritual collection called Art of the Bath for the China market, and we introduced new scents such as Celestial Escape for a relaxing mood and Sunset Fling for a happy and light-hearted mood. This is a trend that’s going to stay for a while because the need for self-care and well-being is definitely not going away,” says Severine.
Standing Up for Gender Discriminations
Since its inception in 1925, LUX has always embraced the strength of femininity, with a global agenda on highlighting women’s rights to be unapologetic about their beauty and femininity. Over the decades, LUX has stayed true to this agenda with charismatic and iconic brand ambassadors such as Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe, who perpetuate those ideals with their personalities and achievements.
Severine shares that the brand operates in over 100 markets globally, and on average, serves 600,000 women on a daily basis. “As a brand, it is important for LUX to tackle issues of sexism and social norms that only serve to repress or diminish the significance of women and their right to be confident and to take care of themselves.”
LUX conducted a 2020 Nielsen Study in which women from six markets – China, India, Indonesia, Brazil, the Middle East and South Africa – were surveyed on the gender stereotypes and discriminations they faced. “Regardless of the market, the study revealed that around 50% of women get judged on a regular basis, and that 70% of these judgments have to do with how they look,” says Severine.
“From these takeaways, we frame our brand communications with the message for women to have the confidence to express beauty the way they want and how they want without the fear of judgment; and without the need to self-edit to fit a particular mold that society has dictated for them.”
The challenges faced by women take on varying nuances in each country and market. “Our consumer insights have revealed that in China, married women are made to feel guilty by their own families if they are spending time on self-care instead of taking care of the family, while singles are viewed as just pretty objects. Similarly, we have heard that women in India feel that they should look pretty and not rock the boat. And in Indonesia, a traditional society wields unkind and derogatory judgements against women who want to look and feel good,” elaborates Severine.
Facing these multifaceted problems in Asia, LUX actively works with female brand ambassadors who champion female rights. “We are now using this approach for our Indonesia market, where our research has found that online beauty shaming is very much of a social problem. We have signed on a brand ambassador who had been a victim of online judgments. She is an influencer called Isyana Sarasvati, who makes quite an impact as a singer and performer.
“She is not your ordinary woman who conforms to norms and is, in fact, very much a trend-setter and norm-breaker of what you will typically expect. She is very passionate about her cause, and we have just started a campaign with her. It’s only been a couple of months, so I don’t have the market results yet, but I can definitely say we are standing out in the sea of advertising in Indonesia,” says Severine.
Communicating Giant Leaps for Womenkind
In its brand communications, LUX focuses on the message that “fragrance plays a role in making you feel confident”, and that applies particularly to its China market and even in Indonesia. In India, Bollywood culture is the inspiration for its communications as LUX works with Bollywood stars. “Music and Bollywood-style communication is very popular, so we have campaigns that play to that genre to make it entertaining and engaging for our consumers,” says Severine.
In its China market, LUX has gone beyond TV and digital advertising into brand activations. “We created a music anthem and music video called Unstoppable with one of the very popular singers in China, Dylan Xiong. We also collaborated with a popular performance reality show called Sisters Who Make Waves, which helps ex-celebrities and stars make a comeback via the show. Women in China love watching it because it’s about resilience and reclaiming their confidence. It’s been a really nice way to extend our brand message in the market and we’ve had this partnership for three years now,” says Severine.
Both TV and online platforms are the key vehicles for its campaigns, complemented by a social strategy that leverages popular influencers with live streaming feeds. As a country that is extremely digital savvy, consumers often make purchases via e-commerce platforms, and LUX ensures that detailed product information is widely available. “This is very important for us in our communications as consumers in China are very savvy about ingredients and their benefits, so they like to make informed decisions before buying,” adds Severine.
Elaborating on the India market, Severine shares, “Our other huge market in India is driven by the power of Bollywood and music. We’ve had a TV and Youtube campaign running for over two years, leveraging a very famous Bollywood song from the ’60s that talks about a woman’s beauty being akin to the glow of the moon . It’s part of the Glow campaign starring well-known Indian couples and showcasing their aspirational relationships, where the husband remains such a fan and supporter of their partner – even after years of marriage. And because India is not a homogeneous country, we have different songs for different regions of the country to make sure it resonates with local consumers.”
While the TV is the main platform for advertising in India, TikTok-like platforms for the younger generations have been gaining popularity and warrant attention from brands as well. “Mum and pop stores are still important, and consumers who are already familiar with LUX will be able to ask for our products. So, we need to engage consumers with strong communication strategies to make it easy for them to buy,” adds Severine. As a huge market for LUX, where it is the 1 #1 beauty brand and #2 skin cleansing brand with a 12% market share, LUX ensures that at the grassroots level, brand awareness is a priority.
As a brand, LUX positions itself pretty much like that empathetic friend who is always there to be serious and to support your cause and, when the occasion calls for it, to celebrate life with fun and parties, Bollywood-style. LUX stays true to its agenda with campaigns such as last year’s ‘In Her Shoes’ and the recent ‘Shut Up, Sexism’ to drive brand affinity with women from all walks of life. And walking alongside are the powerful voices of brand ambassadors such as Indonesia’s Isyana, who speaks to the new generation of empowered women.
1 Nielsen study, 12 months’ market share ending August 2022