Friday, October 8, 2010

Blog 7: Appealing to the Lowest Common Denominator

This week I will be drawing my inspiration for my blog entry from the following two quotes from Paul Willis’ essay “Symbolic Creativity”:

1.   1. Oddly and ironically, it is from capitalism’s own order of priorities, roles, rules and instrumentalities in production…that informal cultures seek escape and alternatives in capitalist leisure consumption.
     There is a widespread view that these means and materials, the cultural media and cultural commodities, must appeal to the lowest common denominators of tastes.

2. How this relates to makeup is exactly the same. The creative directors of these beauty companies have to appeal to both the upper class who supposedly have the high end taste, but also to those who are considered lower class.  There are a few ways the companies do this, but I will be focusing on two.

One way these makeup companies appeal to “the lowest common denominators of tastes” is by releasing products under different brand names that are their daughter and/or sister companies. Estee Lauder, for instance, is the parent company to both MAC Cosmetics and L’Oreal Cosmetics. Estee Lauder is also the parent company to many other brands, but these are the most known and best representations of the high, middle, and low ends of the company in terms of marketing.  You will never see an ad for Estee Lauder in a gossip magazine or a magazine like Seventeen. Just like you would never or rarely ever see an ad for L’Oreal in a magazine like Vogue.  Both brands are of the same company, yet marketed to different demographics.  One of the main reasons they do this is because the brand that is marketed to the lower end of the market will undoubtedly sell more products than that which is marketed to the higher end of the market. This is because, in reality, there are more people in the world who can afford L’Oreal than those who can afford Estee Lauder. This also happens in any venture in production and marketing. Many celebrities who choose to come out with their own line of products choose to release them in department store like Macy’s or supercenters like Walmart and Target. This is because it makes the product more accessible and more people can afford it, therefore, you sell more and make more money. 

For those who “seek escape and alternatives in capitalist leisure consumption,” may find MAC Cosmetics more desirable because it has the tendency to appeal to both higher end and lower end consumers by being priced and marketed to what is considered “middle range”.  Although for some of us MAC is still considered pricey, it is not as pricey as its sister and parent company, Bobbi Brown and Estee Lauder. 

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