Dr. Titima Opaswongkarn is a renowned innovative thinking brand strategist and consumer motivation expert in Asia with 30 years of experience in both mass and digital brand communications in Asia. Currently, she is the managing director of Brand Asia Co Ltd., and the chairwoman of Geekcon Valley Co Ltd, Asia’s representative and center of Pi Datametrics, the world’s most intelligent Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Platform for all search engines and languages.
Sociologists have extensively studied the phenomenon of skin whitening, emphasizing the conscious reasons behind skin bleaching with a bias towards racial theories in countries with a history of slavery, racism, colorism, and colonialism. Only a few studies using relevant consumer motivation theories have been dedicated to understanding consumer motivations for skin whitening both on the “conscious’ as well as “non-conscious” levels. This paper examines two studies conducted with 92 females between 18 and 24 years old in Bangkok, Thailand who regularly practice skin whitening. Phase 1 research used three combined techniques of means-end chain laddering, Projective Technique, and Photo Elicitation with 42 women to explore the consumer motivation behind skin whitening Phase 2 research was conducted among 50 women to test non-conscious motives implicitly associated with different white skin tones. The results suggest two non-conscious motivations for a woman to use skin-lightening products—a long happy love life and increased pride that enhances self-esteem. However, an overly light-skinned tone is automatically associated with having a poor husband. These studies provide marketers not only various novel motives for alternative effective brand positioning concepts but also innovative ways of integrating consumer research techniques and implicit measures to access underlying non-conscious skin-whitening motives for skin whitening.
Keywords: skin whitening, non-conscious motivation, implicit test, means-end chain laddering, ZMET, photo elicitation, projective technique, Thai women