Global Business and the Making of the Modern World
Chapter 3: Globalization and beauty: a historical and firm perspective
This chapter uses the beauty industry to explore the impact of globalization over the long run. Beauty may seem an odd choice: the industry rarely features in the management literature. Yet the industry is large, with global sales of $426 billion in 2011. Moreover, the industry sells products which (for better or worse) impact all of us as individual human beings, because it defines who is conceived as being attractive. As recent research has demonstrated, there is a “beauty premium” which enables people considered to be more attractive to earn higher incomes, get acquitted more often in jury trials, earn higher student evaluations, and much more. In so far as the globalization of the beauty industry involved the globalization of what was considered to be attractive, the societal, cultural and individual impact was profound. The modern beauty industry, involving factory production and the selling of brands, originated in nineteenth-century Europe and North America as a very local activity drawing on long-established craft traditions and beauty rituals. The use of beauty products themselves certainly did not originate in the nineteenth century. Indeed, every known human civilization for thousands of years has used beauty aids of one kind or another, lending support to the view that the use of cosmetic artifices rested ultimately on biological imperatives to attract and to reproduce.
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