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Lipstick effect 口红效应

[ 2009-04-24 11:41]     字号 [] [] []  
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Lipstick effect 口红效应Reader question: Please elaborate on the meaning of “lipstick effect”, from the article ‘Lipstick effect’ in full swing, economists say (Telegraph.co.uk, December 22, 2008)? And how do we put this in Chinese?

My comments: Lipstick is the sticky oily thing women smear – oops, wrong word, perhaps – their lips with, ostensibly to make them look better. But how can they make them look better when they have perfectly good lips in the first place. I’m talking about teen-age women and even young girls wearing that thing, you know.

Anyways, let’s get stick with “lipstick effect”, and this has nothing to do with Sarah Palin (See my column “Lipstick on the Campaign Trail”, September 23, 2008). It has to do with how women and men in general spend their money during an economic downturn.

In short, lipstick effect refers to the phenomenon wherein cosmetics sales continue to grow while sales of most other luxury goods take a beating in an economic recession such as the one we’re experiencing right now.

Lipstick effect 口红效应


Because women want to use a little lipstick to brighten themselves up even when times are hard. It’s the feel-good factor at work, I guess. Men are the same. Even though they may scrap plans for another car or a villa in the country, they will continue to buy smaller luxury items such as an electric shaver, a Rolex wristwatch or an IPod player.

According to this very Telegraph article, “The theory was first identified in the Great Depression. Between 1929 and 1933 industrial production in the US halved but sales of cosmetics rose.”

Now, how do we put lipstick into Chinese?

Here’s a rule of thumb when it comes to addressing Western expressions to which we don’t have a ready equivalent in Chinese: Translate them into Chinese verbatim and then explain and elaborate.

Lipstick effect即所谓的“口红效应”,指经济衰退时期一奇特现象,即化妆品等廉价奢侈品销售继续看涨,尽管高档奢侈品以及其它商品销售大幅下降。

Hit this link for the Telegraph article in full (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetopics/recession/3899999/Lipstick-effect-in-full-swing-economists-say.html).

Economists believe that during hard times people forego extravagant purchases like cars, holidays and kitchens and instead spend their money on small luxuries like make-up.

Recent sales figures from some of the world’s big cosmetic companies - L’Oreal, Beiersdorf and Shiseido - bear out the theory. In the first half of the year L’Oreal sales were up 5.3 per cent.

The theory was first identified in the Great Depression. Between 1929 and 1933 industrial production in the US halved but sales of cosmetics rose.

RAB Capital analyst Dhaval Joshi said: “The evidence shows that when budgets are squeezed people simply substitute large extravagances for small luxuries.”

In the US the number of people working in the cosmetics industry actually increased during the recessions of 1990 and 2001 as demand for make-up rose.

And during the long period of stagnation in Japan since 1997, spending on accessories has risen 10 per cent.

After the 9/11 attacks on the US sales of lipstick doubled.

The theory assumes that, in a crisis or when consumer trust in the economy is low, people will buy goods that have less impact on their available funds. Women buy lipstick and men spend money on items like gadgets rather than new cars.



About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.


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