A Closer Look at the Cosmetics Industry and the Role of Marketing Translation


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A Closer Look at the Cosmetics Industry and the Role of Marketing Translation

  1. 1. A Closer Look at the Cosmetics Industry and the Role of Marketing Translation By Agnes Meilhac The three most significant factors defining the cosmeticsWhat can be said about trans- industry are its level of globalization and thelating marketing copy for cosmeticscompanies? Anyone will agree that thecosmetics industry has generated an importance of exports, dependence on researchimportant sub-field of technical trans-lation with a language all its own. It and development and innovation,would not be an understatement to say and heavy use of advertising.that this is a very interesting field,though some might not consider it aschallenging as, say, financial or legaltranslation. Even so, translators ven-turing into this field will face a variety the end of the 1800s. The industry cosmetic products across internationalof challenges sure to make their work became truly established in the 20th boundaries and cultural barriers. Toan intellectually stimulating and century, and has experienced an translate creative marketing docu-rewarding experience. impressive upsurge in growth within ments that convey finely honed scien- the past two decades. tific messages, the translatorFrom Past to Present Today, the three most significant continually wears two hats, com- Cosmetics have been around for a factors defining the cosmetics bining leading-edge research andlong time, the notion of beauty industry are its level of globalization marketing tools to recreate a specificenhancement having taken shape with and the importance of exports, parlance. The language of cosmeticsthe earliest civilizations. In the dependence on research and develop- is the industry-specific jargon used toWestern world, the advent of cos- ment and innovation, and heavy use define and sell products to consumers.metics came about in the Middle of advertising. Each of these charac- It is shaped by the very elements thatAges, but the scientific manufacturing teristics has a significant impact on characterize this booming multi-bil-of perfumes and beauty aids did not translators specializing in this area. lion dollar market, one of the few sec-begin until the Industrial Age, toward It is the translator’s job to help sell tors in the global industry ·The ATA Chronicle n April 2010 21
  2. 2. A Closer Look at the Cosmetics Industry and the Role of Marketing Translation Continuedlandscape with steady growth rates, atleast until the current downturn. Like many consumer products, cos-metics have undergone an important The combination of science and advertising in thephase of globalization, transitioningfrom a market in which many small marketing mix to sell beauty products results in anbusinesses sold products domesticallyto one consisting of “global brands” interesting linguistic phenomenon that places dualmarketed worldwide by a small numberof large international corporations. demands on the translator.Geared toward exports, the industry’smarketing strategies are hence heavilydependent on multicultural communica-tion, and translation is an inherent part purpose or multi-functional cosmetics guage becomes an inherent part of itsof the process. with multiple benefits that address essence and outer package. It must be consumers’ need for convenience with precisely worded to appeal to a prede-From Competition to Innovation faster acting formulations (moistur- fined target population of consumers The cosmetics industry exists in a izing cleansers, anti-wrinkle sun care, and also accurately represent thefiercely competitive environment, in anti-aging shampoos). brand’s image. Ultimately, product lan-which the top 10 multinationals con- While science is used to make cos- guage breaks down and simplifies sci-trolling over half of the market are metics products unique and distinct, entific data in order to make it not onlycontinually challenged by smaller advertising adds the element of attractive but also comprehensible.companies sprouting all over the glamour and sophistication that helpsglobe. Large and small companies drive the scientific message home. The “Gimmicks”alike spare no effort to roll out new The cosmetics industry is notoriously Loanwordsproducts consistently based on new ranked as one of the highest ad The most striking aspect of cos-expertise and new science. Research spenders. Perfume and cosmetics metic copy is the large number ofand development and technological companies spend an average of 19.2% loanwords from science. Twenty-fiveinnovation are the driving forces of their net sales on advertising. By years ago, the average consumer hadbehind sales.1 comparison, the ad/sales ratios for never heard of exfoliation, dehydra- Innovation in the field of beauty pharmaceutical companies and wire- tion, or keratinization, at least not inhas delivered such products as water- less communications providers are the context of beauty. But cosmeticsproof mascara, anti-dandruff sham- 4.2% and 3.1%, respectively.2 manufacturers have sought thepoos, light-reflecting pigments that endorsement of the medical profes-conceal under-eye shadows, and sun Innovation in Language sion for decades. Medically inspiredcare creams that protect skin against The combination of science and products appear more “serious” andharmful ultraviolet rays. But most advertising in the marketing mix to sell “safe” to a certain category of con-markets are now saturated, especially beauty products results in an interesting sumers. Today, techno talk—in North America and Europe, where linguistic phenomenon that places dual including cell regeneration, immuneconsumers are inundated with a demands on the translator. The language protection, collagen depletion, stemsplethora of products based on very of cosmetics is a blend of technology cells, growth factor, free radicals,similar concepts. So the marketers’ and creativity. It is replete with lin- anti-oxidants, DNA, and coenzymes—ultimate goal today is to make prod- guistic structures that include borrow- is readily accepted by savvy, well-ucts that stand out and catch the con- ings from science as well as the use of versed cosmetics buyers used to beingsumer’s attention and purse strings. neologisms, creative compounds, buzz- exposed to increasingly more sophis-Over the years, this has resulted in an words, and catchphrases that are typi- ticated claims.increasingly more complex and more cally found in advertising and glamour Medical-sounding affixes like bio-,precisely targeted product offer. industries. Used to carefully outline the micro-, and pro- also abound (as inRecent advancements include multi- product’s defining “universe,” the lan- biological, microscopic, and probi-22 The ATA Chronicle n April 2010
  3. 3. Industry Resources The following are important industry associations whose websites are generally excellent sources of wide-ranging background information: Comparison of FDA and EU Regulations Japan Cosmetic Industry Association from the Consumer’s Point of View www.jcia.org www.pgbeautyscience.com/u.s.-and-eu-cosmetic-regulation-similarities.html La Fédération des Industries de la Parfumerie CosmeticsDesign www.industrie-gfifrance.com www.cosmeticsdesign.com (This site contains links to other related French organizations.) (This is a source for business news on cosmetics formulation and packaging in North America.) Personal Care Products Council (Formerly the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association) Cosmetic Ingredient Review www.personalcarecouncil.org www.cir-safety.org Quid.fr Cosmetics & Toiletries www.quid.fr/selection.html?catid=17&subcatid=527 www.cosmeticsandtoiletries.com (This site has links to many of the world’s large cosmetics companies, with flags showing the languages of each website.) European Cosmetics Association www.colipa.com Soap and Detergent Association www.cleaning101.com U.S. Food and Drug Administration Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition Society of Cosmetic Chemists www.cfsan.fda.gov www.scconline.org HBA Global Expo SpecialChem Cosmetics Annual Health and Beauty America Trade Fair www.specialchem4cosmetics.com www.hbaexpo.com (This site contains information on formulation and ingredients.) (This is the place to go to find information on the largest product development event and education conference for the personal care, fragrance, wellness, and cosmetics industry.)otics) in terms such as biomolecular now to MP3s. aging, genetic aging, and even myo-eye serum, microtechnology bio active One former cosmetic neologism we aging (a customized term invented byfoundation, pro-collagen cream, may not recognize given its widespread L’Oreal for the launch of its Myokinemicrosmoothing face serum, and a use is moisturizer. More recent line of skin care).bio-stimulating night cream with coinages include crepiness, Botox-like,microlift.3 cosmeceuticals, nanoparticulate, and Creative Compounding skin restorer. And how about crow’s feet Creative compounding is anotherCoining New Terminology wrinkles, worry lines, laugh lines, mar- form of new word formation that is New word formations are a natural ionette lines, and oral commissures? highly prevalent in the language ofconsequence of innovation. Scientific These are all terms formed specifically cosmetics, particularly in the form ofdiscoveries require the coining of new to denote types of lines and wrinkles for adjectives. Examples of compoundedterms to describe them just as techno- use in cosmetic surgery and beauty care words forming new meanings includelogical breakthroughs in all other indus- lingo. As cosmetic science explored the skin-tensing, body-enhancing, figure-tries spawn new vocabulary in a similar mechanism of skin aging in greater slimming, lipids-replenishing, radi-way. In many ways, exploring the world detail, the language of cosmetics was ance-boosting, pore-clarifying, andof cosmetics is not any different from similarly enriched with extrinsic/ acne-prone. Most of these adjectivesmaking the journey from phonograph intrinsic aging, photoaging, premature turn out to be verbal adjectives. In fact,records to cassette tapes, to CDs, and aging, chronological aging, biological as a general rule, verbs and verbal ·The ATA Chronicle n April 2010 23
  4. 4. A Closer Look at the Cosmetics Industry and the Role of Marketing Translation Continuedadjectives are extensively used in cos- because they refer to making improve- guage that can be understood by anmetic copy to help underline product ments, and that is exactly what cosmetic average consumer (this could beactivity and results. Consumers do not products are selling. referred to as intralingual translation).buy so much the product as the benefits Later, in a second phase, the translatorand results it can provide, and verbs are Catchphrases and Buzzwords steps in to perform an interlingual actall about action. Consequently, all types Catchphrases and buzzwords are of translation aimed at a culturallyof written and oral communication also used to construct sales pitches separate population. This two-tieredabout cosmetic products is packed with carefully. They follow market trends translation process, however, impliesverbs. and reflect continually changing con- quite clearly that the translator be knowledgeable about scientific rami- fications and nuances at each level of communication. In addition, transla- The language of cosmetics is the industry-specific tors in this field must call on creative resources to comply with the purpose jargon used to define and sell products to consumers. of the message they are translating. This will ultimately sell the product. Notes A lot of these verbs follow an “up” sumer demands. For example, peace 1. “A Study of the European Cos-and “down” movement, whereby one and relaxation are at the forefront of metics Industry.” (Global Insightgroup is intended to express the idea of consumer concerns today, paving the Inc., October 2007), final reportreducing the damage to the skin (e.g., way for buzzwords such as renewal, prepared for European Commis-wrinkles, sagging, puffiness, or more refreshing, nourishing, invigorating, sion, Directorate General forunderlying collagen depletion) and the effortless, rejuvenating, youth-enhan- Enterprise and Industry, http://ec.other the notion of improving the skin’s cing, and replenishing. Buzzwords europa.eu/enterprise/newsroom/cf/natural capital (e.g., youthfulness, elas- used to present products as glamorous document.cfm?action=display&doticity, firmness). So, on the one hand, high-end status items include pre- c_id=4561&userservice_id=1.we will see such terms as eliminate, mium, prestige, luxury, chic, opulent,reduce, diminish, minimize, remove, premiere, and exclusive. Products 2. Maddox, Kate. “Many Sectors toreverse, correct, soften, relax, and, on backed by science will be described Boost Ad Spending.” B to B onlinethe other, we will see boost, enhance, with such terms revolutionary, inno- (July 14, 2008), www.btobonline.stimulate, invigorate, optimize, ener- vative, breakthrough, high-perform- com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/2gize, and brighten. In short, a product is ance, technologically advanced, 0080714/FREE/148874127/1150/Idefined by how it can eliminate the neg- potent, patented, and dramatic/spec- SSUENEWS.ative and enhance the positive. tacular results.4 In English, verbs with the prefix re-, 3. Singer, Natasha. “Buying Facemeaning repetition or modification with In Conclusion: Cream? Grab a Glossary.” Theintention to produce a better result, are A Two-Step Approach New York Times (October, 2008),one of the sub-groups of verbs often Of course, none of the terms dis- www.nytimes.com/2008/10/02/fasused in cosmetics: rebuild the cutaneous cussed here are used randomly. They hion/02skin.html?pagewanted=all.barrier; restore elasticity; restructure are part of a carefully constructed,cellular cement; replenish moisture finely-tuned message intended to 4. “Buzz Words That Sell.” GCIreserves; renew the skin’s youthfulness; “translate” technological expertise to Magazine (Pierce Matty Publi-rejuvenate, reactivate the night-time make it more consumer friendly. And cations, May 27, 2008), www.gcirepair process; retexturize, refinish, and herein lies one of the interesting magazine.com/business/marketing/refine the skin’s surface; regenerate aspects of translating cosmetic copy. 19293699.html.damaged cells; rebalance the skin’s The process of translation takes placedeep hydration; and redesign facial con- on two levels. First, the core sciencetours. These verbs are important is reworded by marketers into a lan-24 The ATA Chronicle n April 2010
  5. 5. Our Authors April 2010 Eric S. Bullington is an ATA-certified French→English freelance Agnes Meilhac is a graduate of Ecole Supérieure d’Interprètes et translator, specializing in biomedical and pharmaceutical transla- de Traducteurs in Paris, where she earned a degree in translation. tion. Prior to becoming a translator, he received a master’s degree She has an MA in German literature from the University of in public health and worked as a health researcher. He maintains Pennsylvania, and an MA in French literature from New York his ties to the public health field by volunteering with his local University. In 1997, she started working full-time as a freelance branch of the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) and serving on the translator in Paris, specializing in the cosmetics and beauty care branch’s steering committee. In 2009, he represented the MRC industry. Over the past 13 years, she has translated for many on the South Carolina Pandemic Influenza Ethics Task Force. leading companies in the field. She is also the editor of the Contact: eric@clinicaltranslations.com. Gotham Translator , the newsletter of the New York Circle of Translators. Contact: agnes@beautyterm.com.Contact: Ewandro Magalhães is a conference lameilhac@optonline.net. interpreter with nearly 20 years of experience. He is a contractor with the Barry Olsen is a professor at the Monterey Institute of U.S. Department of State, the International Studies, where he is chair of the conference interpre- International Monetary Fund, the World tation program. He is a member of the International Association of Bank, the Organization of American Conference Interpreters. Contact: barry.olsen@miis.edu. States, the Pan-American Health Organization, and the International George Rimalower is founder, Criminal Court. He has a Master’s in Conference Interpretation from president, and chief executive officer the Monterey Institute of International Studies, where he is an of Los Angeles-based ISI Language adjunct professor. He is the author of Sua Majestade, o Intérprete - Services. He is certified as an inter- O Fascinante Mundo da Tradução Simultânea (Parábola Editorial, preter by the State of California. A São Paulo). He is an active member of The American Association of native Spanish-speaker, he was edu- Language Specialist. Contact: ewandro@gmail.com. cated in Argentina and the U.S. He speaks English, Spanish, and German. Contact: grimalower@isitrans.com. April 201 Volume XX 0 CHRONICL The XIX Number A Publica 4 tion of the American Send a Complimentary Copy E Translato rs Association If you enjoyed reading this issue of The ATA Chronicle and think a colleague or organization would enjoy it too, we’ll send a free copy. Simply e-mail the recipient’s name and address to Maggie Rowe at ATA Headquarters— maggie@atanet.org—and she will send the magazine with a note indicating that the copy is being sent with your compliments. Help spread the word about ATA! ATA’ s 51st Annual Conference ONLINE Denver, Colorado ATA’ s Client Outreach Kit and NOW October 27-30, 2010 www.atanet.org/conf/2010 Skill Modules www.atanet.org/client_outreach6 The ATA Chronicle n April 2010