Girls nowadays don’t dream of their charming prince riding on a white horse in search of a beautiful wife – they dream of Rakesh Roshan getting off his white car to offer them a role in his next movie – either ways they are swept off their feet!
Times are achanging!
And the fairness creams market keeps track of every single change that is happening in society – every need and every dream of their core target audience – young girls with dark skin – who dream of a “better life” – a life which only fairer skin can lead them to – which in turn only fairness creams can help them achieve!
Now to look at some of these changes in the fairness creams market:
o Skin care and not just fairness : With more exposure to sophisticated products and foreign brands (through communication, if not actual product experience), the target audience (the young girls mentioned before) is demanding more than basic fairness – fairness creams no longer call themselves just that – they are now positioned as ‘skin care’ products – exactly how much care does the skin get through cheap and harmful bleach is anyone’s guess! in any case, with names like Fair and Lovely, Fairglow, Naturally Fair and Fairever, there can be no doubt in anyone’s minds what exactly these products promise – let no one be fooled!
o Going the ‘natural’ route : chemical is out, natural is in – look at the number of products around that promise ‘natural ingredients’ – if one promises vitamin M, the other conveys that the product is bursting at the seams with saffron or milk or honey or whatever it takes to bleach the skin in six quick weeks – leading to a fairer and married-to-the-man-of-your-dreams you…
o Specialty products : there are now variants to suit every skin type and every need – fairness creams are now available for oily skin, for winter use, for removing marks – you name it… there is even a fairness creams for elbows yes, you read it right – elbows!
o Dream career and dream man : And most importantly, recent ads for fairness creams are not centred just around the dream-man-marriage theme (although that remains the ultimate objective) – but have a “career orientation” – you can now be an air hostess or a popular cricket commentator – depending on the flavour of the month – or you can even be a film star!
Sure, times are achanging!. But some things never change – like the desire for a son… again advertising (especially in this category) has exploited this weakness quite cleverly – it is possible to almost look into the mind of the father who has been ‘cursed’ not just with a daughter, but a dark-skinned daughter – who cannot reach that well-paying dream job or cannot even be married off easily – just the words in the ad kaash mera beta hota encapsulates every emotion that this market thrives on or is it ‘preys’ on?
As long as the search for the fair bride remains, fairness creams will continue to rule the roost and they will continue to exploit every single weakness in their consumers and in ways that the consumer herself does not know she is being exploited. If society has even an inkling of such a notion, such ads reinforce these notions – do not forget, dark skin is ugly and will stand in the way of all your dreams…
Following protests from all quarters, marketers have now tried various things to repair their damaged image – some of the ads now try to soften the blow – he is lucky to have you, says one ad – sure, the ‘boy’ is lucky but remember this bit of luck happens after a magical transformation has taken place on the girl’s face – thanks to the latest fairness cream – to an already vulnerable young woman, such a strong reinforcement spells zero self esteem – so much for lucky boys!
Another laughable effort is the Fair and Lovely Foundation – which aims to “promote economic empowerment of women” – all other things remaining constant, a fairer skin leads to economic empowerment?
There is nothing that cannot be changed goes the line for a popular fairness cream brand – nothing, it looks like, except the colonial hang-up on fair skin.
Debashish had added some interesting facts in his Hindi translation – including the information that in the skincare products market, more than 60% products are aimed at fairness. And that companies claim that nearly 25% of fairness cream users are men. I had written about this in my earlier post on elbow creams; if this statistic intrigues you, check it out…