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瞄不准的腋窝:为什么除臭香体露在中国不受欢迎

更新时间:2018-2-5 19:56:41 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Aiming at China’s Armpits: When Foreign Brands Misfire
瞄不准的腋窝:为什么除臭香体露在中国不受欢迎

BEIJING — Unilever brought its Rexona deodorant to China a decade ago, dreaming of a market with 2.6 billion armpits.

北京——联合利华(Unilever)十年前就把舒耐(Rexona)香体露带进了中国,梦想着一个有26亿腋窝的市场。

Wages were rising, consumers were spending and the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics was making Chinese people feel more cosmopolitan. More of them, it stood to reason, would be open to a Western hygiene product.

工资在增长,消费者在花钱,而即将举行的2008年北京奥运会也使中国人更有国际化的感觉。按理说,会有更多人愿意接受这个西方的卫生用品。

“We had created established markets for Rexona from scratch in many countries, and we did not see any reason why we couldn’t do the same in China,” Frank Braeken, Unilever’s former China head, said by telephone from Dubai, where he now works as an investment consultant.

“我们在许多国家都能为舒耐从零开始打下一片成熟的市场,我们在中国没理由不能照做,”联合利华大中华区前总裁薄睿凯(Frank Braeken)通过电话表示,他现于迪拜担任投资顾问。

“We had an extremely ambitious plan at the time,” Mr. Braeken said.

“我们当时有一个非常有野心的计划,”薄睿凯说道。

But cultural differences and simple biology — scientists have shown that many East Asian people don’t have Westerners’ body odor issues — scotched those plans. Sales totaled only a fraction of the Chinese marketing budget for Rexona, Mr. Braeken said. Today, by some estimates, less than 10 percent of China’s population uses deodorant, and it can be hard to find outside major cities.

但文化差异和简单的生理问题——科学家已经证明许多东亚人并没有西方人的体味问题——阻挠了这些计划。薄睿凯说,舒耐在中国的销售总量只达市场营销预算的一小部分。据估计,目前,中国只有不到10%的人口使用香体露,在大城市之外更加难找。

China’s growing consumer class has fueled global growth and lifted the fortunes of Starbucks, KFC and a host of other Western brands. Many Chinese people now drink coffee instead of tea, eat cheese and ice cream despite potential tummy tremors, and guzzle ice-cold sodas in a country where grandmothers express a mortal fear at any liquid below room temperature.

中国不断增长的消费阶层推动着全球经济增长,为星巴克(Starbucks)、肯德基(KFC)等一大堆西方品牌增添了财富。许多中国人现在会喝咖啡而不是喝茶,即使可能会出现肠胃不适也要吃奶酪和冰激凌,而在这个老奶奶见到低于室温的饮料都会表现出极度恐惧的国家,人们也开始狂饮冰冷的汽水。

But the drive to win China’s consumers has had its notable failures.

但赢得中国消费者的努力曾有过重大失败。

Like tampons.

如卫生棉条。

Most Chinese women use sanitary pads because they believe tampons are invasive. In 2016, China spent $136 million on tampons, only a fraction of the $4.9 billion annual sales for sanitary pads and towels in the country, according to data from Mintel, a consulting firm.

大多数中国女性使用卫生巾,因为她们认为卫生棉条是侵入性的。根据咨询公司英敏特(Mintel)提供的数据,2016年,中国在卫生棉条上的花销只有1.36亿美元,跟中国卫生护垫和卫生巾49亿年销售额比起来只是个零头。

Procter & Gamble, the American consumer products company, gave up on Tampax in China in 2000, though it relaunched the brand last year. In a statement, Li Fengting, China director for the Tampax brand, said it had reintroduced the product in hopes of attracting a younger generation of women.

美国日用消费品公司宝洁(Procter & Gamble)早在2000年就在中国放弃了丹碧丝(Tampax),不过去年将其重新推出。在一则声明中,中国丹碧丝品牌的中国区总裁李凤婷表示,公司重新推出这个产品是希望能吸引更年轻一代的女性。

Then there’s Weetabix. Bright Food, a Shanghai-based company, bought a majority stake in the maker of the oblong staple of British breakfasts in 2012, hoping the cereal biscuits would find their way onto the Chinese family menu. It sold the stake to an American firm five years later, after what analysts said was a lackluster performance. A Bright Food spokesman, Pan Jianjun, said the decision to sell was part of the company’s international strategy but declined to comment further.

还有维多麦(Weetabix)。总部位于上海的光明食品集团在2012年买下了这家谷物饼干生产商的多数股权,希望这种长方形英式早餐主食能走进中国的家庭菜单。5年后,在分析人士所说的平平无奇的业绩下,它们将股权卖给了一家美国公司。光明食品集团的发言人潘建军表示,出售股权的决定是公司国际战略的一部分,但拒绝进一步置评。

Companies like Apple and Starbucks have prospered in part by selling aspirational products to Chinese consumers who want to show the world that they have made it. That task is tougher for products that nobody sees.

苹果(Apple)和星巴克等公司能够成功,部分原因在于向中国消费者出售了能向世界彰显他们的成功的产品。而这个任务对于人们看不到的产品来说更加困难。

“It has to be something visible or something you can smell,” said Ye Tan, an independent economist in Shanghai. “Deodorant fails partly because it is invisible.”

“它必须是能看得见,或能闻得到的东西,”上海独立经济学家叶檀说。“香体露的失败部分是因为人们看不见它。”

The products have their Chinese adherents. Cai Qianyi, a 38-year-old media professional in Beijing, started using deodorant in 2006, when he was studying in France. He doesn’t think he has body odor but sees a problem with sweat stains.

这些产品也有中国的追随者。在北京的38岁媒体人蔡谦从2006年开始使用香体露,那时他正在法国学习。他觉得自己没有体味,但认为汗渍是个问题。

“Sweat leaving wet spots on your T-shirt in the summer is extremely ugly, especially around the armpits, which could be really socially embarrassing,” Mr. Cai said.

“夏天的时候出汗会在T恤上留下汗渍,这样非常难看,尤其是在腋下附近。从社交的角度来说,这很尴尬,”蔡谦一说道。

But most of his family and friends have no idea what deodorant is, he said. Once, a cousin mistook his deodorant stick for perfume and asked him why it was solid.

但他大多数的家人和朋友并不知道什么是香体露,他说。有一次,一个亲戚误把它当成香水,还问他为什么这是固体的。

When global deodorant makers began their foray into China, they highlighted the social embarrassment caused by perspiration. Their central message was a proven winner in the West: Sweating will get you shunned socially and ruin your chances for romance.

当全球香体露厂商进军中国市场时,他们强调的是流汗给社会交往带来的尴尬。这个核心信息在西方证实是有效的:出汗会让你在社会交往中被人冷落,也会破坏情场上的机会。

That pitch fell on deaf ears in China, said Lucia Liu, a skin care assistant manager at Unilever who was involved in Rexona’s marketing between 2011 and 2016.

这个宣传方式在中国没有产生效果,联合利华的护肤产品助理经理露西亚·刘(Lucia Liu)说,她从2011年到2016年参与了舒耐(Rexona)的市场推广。

“The traditional thinking here is that sweating is good because it helps people detox,” said Ms. Liu. “There is a marketing barrier that is really hard to overcome.”

“在传统的观念里出汗是件好事,因为它会帮助排毒,”她说。“这个市场营销上的障碍很难克服。”

Indeed, Chinese health websites have long promoted the benefits of sweating, ranging from a boost in immunity to memory enhancement to skin rejuvenation. To many Chinese, perspiration is a natural part of metabolism that should not be blocked.

的确,中国的健康网站长期以来一直在宣传出汗的益处,从增强免疫力、提高记忆力到肌肤恢复活力。对于很多中国人而言,排汗是新陈代谢的自然组成部分,不应该被阻碍。

There’s another reason few Chinese consumers buy deodorant: basic biology.

很少有中国消费者购买香体露还有另一个原因:基本的生理特性。

Scientists in recent years have shown that many East Asians, a group that includes China’s ethnic Han majority, have a gene that lowers the likelihood of a strong “human axillary odor” — scientist-speak for body stink.

科学家近年来已经证明,很多东亚人携带的一种基因可以降低产生强烈“人体腋窝气味”——体臭的科学说法——的可能性,这个群体包括占中国大多数的汉族人口。

That lowers the likelihood that they will use deodorant to begin with, according to a 2013 study by researchers at the University of Bristol and Brunel University in Britain, after a survey of nearly 6,500 women of various backgrounds.

这从根本上减少了他们使用香体露的可能性,英国布里斯托大学(University of Bristol)和布鲁内尔大学(Brunel University)的研究人员在2013年访问了近6500名来自不同背景的女性后得出了这样的结论。

“It is likely that deodorant usage is not widely adopted because there is, for much of the East Asia population, no need for it,” it said. (For those curious about such matters, that same genetic difference also leads to drier earwax.)

“香体露的使用不是非常普遍,这可能是因为,对于很多东亚人而言,他们不需要,”研究称。(还有一点——如果你对这类事情感兴趣——同样的基因差别也导致东亚人的耳垢更干燥。)

Unilever was not deterred. It deployed a range of traditional marketing tools, including signing top celebrities to appear in TV ads, in-store product sampling and sweat tests, and concert sponsorships.

联合利华没有因此却步。它使用了一系列传统市场推广手法,包括聘请最红的名人出现在电视广告中、店内产品试用和排汗测试,以及赞助演唱会等。

Many of its efforts seem tone deaf in retrospect.

如今看来,该公司许多的努力似乎都没有奏效。

A series of Rexona print ads portrayed a person’s armpits as potential threats to others. In one, a gunslinger — his armpit hovering over the scene in the foreground — appears to take down his opponent without touching his revolver. In a similar ad, a boxer appears to knock out his opponent with little more than his aroma.

一系列舒耐的平面广告刻画了一个人的腋窝成为他人的潜在威胁。在一则广告中,一名持枪劫匪的腋窝在画面前景摇晃,他似乎没有使用手枪就制服了对手。在另一个类似广告中,一名拳击手只靠自己的体香就击倒了对手。

Ng Tian It, a Singaporean creative director who oversaw the ad campaign, was proud of the look. But he said the ads appeared to be out of touch with many Chinese consumers unfamiliar with Old West shootouts, professional boxing and the prospect of offensive underarm smells.

主管这个广告系列的新加坡创意总监黄田一(Ng Tian It)对视觉效果感到很满意。但他说,这些广告似乎脱离了许多不熟悉美国西部枪战、职业拳击和冒犯性腋臭的中国消费者的生活。

“The series of advertisements we designed relied on the Western sense of humor,” he said. “Not many Chinese would understand this.”

“我们设计的这个系列的广告是基于西方的幽默,”他说。“很多中国人并不一定能明白。”

Deodorant sales in the United States reached $4.5 billion in 2016, according to Euromonitor, a market research firm. China’s total: $110 million. Deodorant also does not sell well in other East Asian markets: Japan’s sales that year were about one-tenth those of the United States.

根据市场调查公司欧睿(Euromonitor)的统计,香体露2016年在美国的销售额为45亿美元(约合288亿元人民币)。中国的销售额一共1.1亿美元(约合7亿元人民币)。香体露在其他东亚市场的销售也表现不佳:日本同年的销售额为美国的十分之一。

Companies hoping to sell deodorant in China have had to appeal to other senses. Nivea, a brand owned by Beiersdorf A.G. of Germany, has tried to lure female Chinese consumers by rolling out deodorants with whitening functions, to cater to a market where fair skin often confers social status.

希望在中国销售香体露的公司不得不从其他感官上想办法。德国拜尔斯道夫(Beiersdorf A.G.)集团旗下品牌妮维雅(Nivea)试图在香体露中加入美白功效来吸引中国女性消费者,以此来讨好一个白皙肤色往往表明社会地位的市场。

Simon Cao, Nivea’s China marketing director, said that the deodorant was popular but that “the room for growth is very limited.”

妮维雅中国区市场主管西蒙·曹(Simon Cao)说,香体露很受欢迎,但“增长空间非常有限”。

“We will not spend too much energy on deodorant, because the investment is not proportional to the return,” he said.

“我们不会在香体露上花太多精力,因为投入和回报是不成比例的,”他说。

The dearth of deodorants in China has forced some expatriates to hoard.

香体露在中国的稀缺迫使一些外国人不得不囤货。

Alex Stevens, a 26-year-old American former public relations professional who left Beijing last year after living there nearly a decade, said he loaded up on deodorant every time he was back in the United States.

26岁的美国人亚力克斯·史蒂芬斯(Alex Stevens)是一名前公关从业者,在北京生活了近十年,直到去年离开,他说他每次回到美国都会大量购入香体露。

“It’s really become the only thing I stock up on when I go back home,” he said, “and I don’t give any away to friends, not even for a price.”

“它已经变成了我回家时唯一会囤的东西,”他说。“而且我一个都不会送给朋友,就算他们花钱来买。”

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