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Beauty Imagined: A History of the Global Beauty Industry Hardcover – March 26, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 444 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (March 26, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780199556496
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199556496
  • ASIN: 0199556490
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #826,645 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


"There are plenty of lessons for entrepreneurs and industry executives"--Womens Wear Daily


"Geoffrey Jones intimates in the title of his detailed economic history of the beauty business, Beauty Imagined, that [beauty] is created by the collective will of a consumer society. Assessing beauty as a social construct, Jones takes the late 19th century as his starting point, when an increase in mass visual dissemination, particularly the spread of commercial photography, saw ideals of beauty shift from the personal and private to the communal."--Financial Times


"Nothing slips away in Jones's book. All the great cosmetic monsters rampage through the book."--The Guardian


"A must read for the beauty junkie."--Julia DiNardo, fashionpulsedaily.com


"If you have a passion for beauty then you need to read this book. True stories about the people behind the most famous brands make the cosmetic industry come alive as you learn how it has become such a significant part of our global culture."--Leslie Blodgett, Executive Chairman of Bare Escentuals and founder of bareMinerals


"Both men and women have dressed their hair, painted their faces, and sought ways to enhance their sexual allure in every time and place, yet the ways they have done so are infinitely various.... Given the degree to which beauty is interwoven with cultural concepts, it might seem impossible to talk of global beauty, but it is the achievement of this book to show how what was once culture bound has expanded into a multinational business."--Business History Review


"One of the more fascinating stories in modern business history.... The book is thoroughly researched with documentation based on five years of interviews with companies and selected executives from prominent brands. Primary sources from corporate as well as government archives and private collections are the background for a well-supported analysis of two centuries of the beauty industry.... Of special interest are the statistics and figures never published before, revealing the scale of the industry today and its dramatic and consistent growth over the decades.... Jones offers valuable new knowledge for the critical eye of a professional business historian. At the same time the book is a must-read for anyone working in the beauty or fashion business."--EH.net


"A deft, comprehensive history that charts [the beauty industry's] path from the ancient craft of perfumery to the vast commercial cornerstone it now is... Fans of figures and appendices will find a neat summary of how the beauty business has developed, including its many mergers, acquisitions, and divestments. Those who simply love fragrance might be interested to know how Lauder transformed department store beauty halls, and her own fortunes, with Youth Dew, a fragrance whose name encapsulates the big promise in a seductively natural and simple way. The business behind it is anything but."--The Oldie


"Geoffrey Jones has written a formidable history of the Beauty Industry that reads like a novel. Beauty Imagined: A History of the Global Beauty Industry...is poised to become a classic of the genre. It should be read by anyone involved in the beauty business."--Arab News


"The book is to be admired and its author congratulated for the deft (and pioneering) fashion in which order is imposed upon such a recalcitrant subject. For anyone interested in the lineaments, scope and statistics of the beauty industries this is essential reading. It teaches us a great deal about the size and comparative structure of firms and conglomerates as they devour smaller ventures and then get gobbled up themselves."--English Historical Review


"Jones sets a new standard in skillfully chronicling the emergence and evolution of this global industry. Highly recommended."--CHOICE


"This illuminating account of the history of the beauty business, as well as its current challenges in the face of globalization, offers unique insights on the drivers of success and failure in an industry in which branding and marketing are at the heart of competitive success."--John A. Quelch, Lincoln Filene Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School


"Geoffrey Jones has distilled a massive amount of evidence from around the world to produce the intriguing essence of the global beauty business. This book's incisive analysis of how the industry grew, and its current challenges and dynamics, makes it essential reading for people working in beauty today, as well as millions who delight in using our brands each day."--Bernd Beetz, Chief Executive, Coty


"Beauty is a sprawling global business, yet Geoffrey Jones has produced a book broad enough and deep enough to encompass it compactly and with insight. Beauty Imagined skillfully marshals a vast array of disparate sources-not just from the usual suspects, but from high and low, from east and west, from north and south, and from the present and the past--into a well-honed and compelling account of the business that one way or another quite literally touches us all. This book will no doubt be read avidly by business historians, among whom Jones is preeminent. But it will also be read far beyond for what it tells us about society, about business, and about ourselves."--Paul Duguid, Adjunct Professor, School of Information, University of California, Berkeley


"The beauty industry has done well by making people look good, and making them feel good about themselves. Like other corporate sectors, it has shaped human needs as much as it has responded to them. This study of enterprise and global reach also sheds light on the inner self and its interaction with others. It is a great achievement."--Avner Offer, Chichele Professor of Economic History, University of Oxford, author of The Challenge of Affluence (OUP, 2006)


"Jones provides thick description of the people, products, and marketing processes that make us believe--or at least test--the promise that we can be made more attractive and, as we age, be kept looking young...[useful] for researchers requiring a handy, well-written source book."--Administrative Science Quarterly


About the Author


Geoffrey Jones is Isidor Straus Professor of Business History, Harvard Business School. He previously taught at the universities of Cambridge and Reading, and at the London School of Economics and Political Science, in Great Britain. He is the author and editor of many prize-winning books and articles on the history of international business, including British Multinational Banking 1830-1990 (OUP, 1993), Merchants to Multinationals (OUP, 2000), Multinationals and Global Capitalism (OUP, 2005), Renewing Unilever (OUP, 2005), and The Oxford Handbook of Business History (OUP, 2008). He is a former President of both the European Business History Association and the Business History Conference of the United States, is co-editor of the journal Business History Review.

More About the Author

Geoffrey Jones teaches the history of global business at the Harvard Business School, where he holds the Isidor Straus Professorship, established in 1927 as the first Chair in business history in the world. His most recent books include Beauty Imagined, a history of the globalization of the beauty industry, and Entrepreneurship and Multinationals, which examines the role of firms in the making of the modern world. He is now researching a new book on the history of green entrepreneurship to be called Profits and Sustainability. He lives in Belmont, Massachusetts.

Customer Reviews

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A must read for beauty professionals.
erica_b
This is a thoroughly researched, very detailed book on the history of the beauty business - since beauty products started to be produced at an industrial scale.
Kindle fan
This book is thoroughly researched and beautifully written.
Andrea

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By erica_b on April 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I have worked in beauty for ages and always looked for books about the evolution of the industry but could never find a serious study of the actual business of beauty. This book is a wonderful read that begins with the oils and perfumes that were en vogue in Ancient Rome to today's megabrands (Olay, Pantene) and how they are approaching consumers in emerging markets to niche brands like Korres that are gaining in popularity. While the breadth of the study and focus on the business history make this book unique, I was most impressed with the fact that much of the information came from five years of interviews with current industry leaders lending a unique insights that are of-the-moment. A must read for beauty professionals.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Britt C. on April 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As someone who is deeply familiar with the history of the beauty industry, I can confidently say that this book will be the standard reference work on the subject for years to come. The author has located rare and illuminating primary sources from companies, government archives, and private collections, many of which have not been seen before now. The material drawn from numerous interviews with present and retired top executives from a large number of the important firms in the industry makes for fascinating reading and greatly adds to what is known about the beauty industry and how it became what it is today. A high point for this reader were the wonderful color plates and black and white illustrations! The book includes a number of beautiful poster ads made by the leading European graphic artists of the pre-WWI and interwar periods, which provided the visual launch and first vehicles of brand recognition for some of the emerging international leaders among the beauty firms of the day (see, for example, the book's beautiful early ads for L'Oréal, Wella, and Beiersdorf). From the other side of the globe, a 1920s poster made by the Japanese firm Club Cosmetics for the launch of its Two Gorgeous Girls brand in the Chinese market is a fascinating (and gorgeous!) illustration of the interaction between European and Asian marketing and internationalization strategies of that period. I was also thrilled to find a picture of the movie star Anita Ekberg while still in her teens and before she had been discovered, having her hair done for a fashion show by Sweden's leading beauty entrepreneur around 1950. These wonderful images do a great job of conveying the glamour and creation of new ways of imagining beauty that the industry crafted in the first half of the last century.Read more ›
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By VT on April 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent comprehensive study of the beauty industry written by a leading Harvard business historian. Insightful analysis of the competitive dynamics of the industry sprinkled wtih delicious anecdotes about the personalities behind today's iconic beauty brands make this an educational and truly enjoyable read. It has become my gift of choice this year for beauty enthusiasts, brand makers and business historians alike.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Andrea on April 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This book is thoroughly researched and beautifully written. It was exciting to read the histories of all of the favorite brands, but what really impressed me was how the author dealt with complex issues of gender and ethnicity in the beauty industry in such a readable way. He shows that global beauty products are more than skin deep, they go to the core of how we think about ourselves.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Chiu on August 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Facts are necessary for any history, so this self-proclaimed 'history' does, indeed, have facts. Unfortunately, there is little else --- certainly not any kind of imagination ['Beauty Imagined' (sic) -- just where?] or insight into this ancient activity of mankind and important global vertical. There are no analytics here (the Appendices are so basic that a Goldman Sachs analyst would be embarrassed to present this -- one listing companies by revenues, one which shows just a fraction of M & A deals in the industry); and only the most trite of conclusions (eg 'The result was a major homogenization of beauty ideals which the beauty companies helped diffuse...'). There is, however, plenty of the most dreary irrelevant detail ('Yves Rocher also started a company in the rural village of La Gacilly in the French region of Brittany. After leaving school and starting work as a clothing salesman...etc') to wade through.

As for the largely blurry, black and white photographs, it's absurd to suggest they add anything substantive to the discussion (there are many finer illustrated volumes). The writing style is barebones as well, as befits an academic whose prose is neither mellifluous nor stylish (eg 'The challenges of balancing the local and the global were formidable and help to explain why companies found building international businesses such a challenge'). The Index is rudimentary which is surprising in that there are so many authorial toolsets available to easily create functional indexing.

For both an engaging history and substantive overview of the cosmetics industry, the Wikipedia article is a far more accurate, accessible, and informative resource.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Guy R. Hearn on January 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover
A very good potted history of the beauty industry that, whilst rightly focusing on the 2 main centres of the industry - Paris and New York - also covers trends and developments in developing markets, particularly India and China well. Jones identifies the pioneers of the industry, the difficulties and mistakes of major corporations trying to incorporate beauty businesses into their portfolios, the rise and fall of major brands and houses such as Coty, Helena Rubinstein and Revlon, and the challenges of maintaining global brands with local market characteristics. If I have a gripe it is that the editing could have been tighter (some of the information, such as Unilever's abortive takeover of L'Oreal, is mentioned in multiple chapters) and that there is perhaps an over focus, and very uncritical focus on L'Oreal. I for one would have appreciated further discussion of L'Oreal's takeover of the Body Shop and the success or otherwise of that. But still a very informative and enjoyable work
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