LONDON – It may feel like social and online media is steadily but surely taking over and that social channels are where it’s at for breaking news, from a beauty perspective at least, women are still turning to traditional media for their beauty news.
There’s nothing quite like settling down with a glossy mag and a cup of tea on a Sunday afternoon, or the burst of colour in the women’s section of WH Smith at the airport as you select your poolside reading; we certainly don’t want traditional media to die out, women’s mags or otherwise.
In conjunction with our client Philips Beauty, we recently conducted a survey of over 11,000 women in 11 different countries globally to determine women’s interpretations of beauty and where they are looking for new beauty information.
So, before we delve into what influences the way we perceive beauty and how those sources have changed over time, it’s important to understand how women actually feel about beauty and the industry as it currently stands.
When it came to asking women if they felt that they were beautiful, we discovered that there was a huge disparity between countries. Whilst the global average of women who consider themselves beautiful is 57%, in the UK this figure is less than half that, with only 26% of women considering themselves to be beautiful. This is incredibly sad in contrast with women in India where a staggeringly positive 94% of women would consider themselves to be beautiful. This could be down to the differences in perceptions of beauty as a culture.
Culturally in the UK we are incredibly self-deprecating and to most, it would seem bold to outwardly declare that we believe ourselves to be beautiful. This may be due to our perceptions of beauty and what we consider beauty to be. Is it what we see in magazines and on catwalks, the skinny Minnie models and celebrities who are shaping our view of what beauty actually is and means? Photoshop use is rife and leads to false portrayals of celebrities in media and advertising. With inches shaved off waists and thighs, and skin smoothed to perfection, women across the world have been standing up for many years to say that this is not the example we should be setting for younger generations.
In addition, over two thirds of those surveyed in the UK agreed that too much of our self-worth is tied to our looks (68%) and 74% feel that the beauty industry is putting too much pressure on us to look a certain way.
The pressure to look beautiful, however—whether it’s from the media, our peers, or society as a whole—is building across cultures, no matter how beautiful women report feeling.
So who dictates these standards for beauty and the ensuing pressure to keep up? And who do we trust as the authority? According to the latest survey data, it’s actually not as much from our social media streams as we might expect. It turns out, our sources of inspiration are a bit more traditional. When it comes to shaping our perceptions of what is beautiful, traditional media outlets like magazines and friends still trump social media and digital sources as the most trusted places to get beauty advice and inspiration.
According to the data, women in the UK favoured magazines over blogs, YouTube or other social channels to discover new beauty products, brands, and procedures. This could be down to the trust we have instilled in magazines and their ability to source and trial a variety of products to bring us reviews, or because women are becoming wise to social media influencers and bloggers being paid to talk about new products on social channels.
With this in mind, the marketing industry has a huge role to play in working with media to ensure that we are completely transparent and honest in the way we work with influencers and media and at the same time, ensuring that the work we are doing in the industry is responsible, helping women to feel more beautiful and confident both in the UK and across the globe.