Friday, May 21, 2010

Geoffrey Jones's History of the Beauty Industry

Geoffrey Jones, the Isidor Straus Professor of Business History at the Harvard Business School, has recently published Beauty Imagined: A History of the Global Beauty Industry (Oxford University Press, Feb. 2010).  In the words of the OUP blurb:
This book provides the first authoritative history of the global beauty industry from its emergence in the nineteenth century to the present day, exploring how today's global giants grew. It shows how successive generations of entrepreneurs built brands which shaped perceptions of beauty, and the business organizations needed to market them. They democratized access to beauty products, once the privilege of elites, but they also defined the gender and ethnic borders of beauty, and its association with a handful of cities, notably Paris and later New York. The result was a homogenization of beauty ideals throughout the world.
    Today globalization is changing the beauty industry again; its impact can be seen in a range of competing strategies. Global brands have swept into China, Russia, and India, but at the same time, these brands are having to respond to a far greater diversity of cultures and lifestyles as new markets are opened up worldwide.
 Interested readers can find a video of Professor Jones discussing the book, as well as an interview on the HBS site "Working Knowledge" and a post on the Oxford University Press blog.