An Insider Look Into The Business Behind Beauty Pageants

Thailand has a deep-rooted connection with beauty pageants that goes beyond glamorous events. It is a cultural phenomenon with a surprisingly long history. Many people are unaware that these dazzling competitions have evolved into a full-blown business industry in Thailand, generating significant revenue. 

So, let’s get behind the glitz and discover the fascinating world of Thai beauty pageants, not just as sparkly contests but as money-making ventures.

A History Steeped in Tradition

In 1934, Thailand’s pageant culture began with “Miss Siam.” Since then, many pageants have emerged, each with a unique crown to win. Some prominent pageants in Thailand include Miss Thailand World, Miss Universe Thailand (formerly Miss Thailand Universe), and the relatively new Miss Grand. These pageants give the women of Thailand a platform to showcase their talents and skills.


Who Runs the Show?

Each pageant has its own powerhouse organiser. Miss Universe Thailand is run by TPN Global, while Miss Thailand World falls under Tero Entertainment. Miss Grand Thailand is the brainchild of Nawat Itsaragrisil, and other pageants like Miss & Mister Supranational Thailand and Miss Tiffany’s Universe have their own dedicated organisations.

Miss Grand Chiang Mai 2017


The Business Behind the Beauty

So, how exactly do these pageants make money? Forget just ticket sales and tiaras. Big-name sponsors jump at the chance to join the glitz and glamour, paying for logo placement and brand association. Advertisers line up, too, eager to reach pageant viewers through TV broadcasts, online platforms, and even newspapers.

But the real cash cow comes after the crown is placed. Pageant organisers act like talent agencies, training their queens and then taking a cut of their appearance fees, endorsement deals, and ad campaign earnings. Think of clothing lines partnering with queens or beverage companies and hiring them for product launches. Social media-savvy queens add another layer of revenue by becoming brand ambassadors on platforms like Instagram and TikTok. It’s a clever combination of entertainment, branding, and talent management that fuels the Thai pageant industry.


The Rise of the Beauty Influencers

An excellent example would be Chalita Suansane, who was crowned Miss Universe Thailand in 2016. She is not just a beautiful face but also a social media sensation. The emergence of “beauty influencers” has opened up new revenue streams for the industry. Beauty queens with a large following have the power to charge substantial amounts of money to promote products. 

The Power of the “Imagined Couple”

Here’s a fun twist: the “imagined couple” trend. Think Ingfah Waraha and Charlotte Austin, who took the internet by storm with their pageant bromance. This kind of buzz generates even more interest and, ultimately, more money for the industry.


Numbers Don’t Lie: The Big Bucks of Beauty

Just how big is this business? Let’s look at some numbers. In the first half of 2023 alone, the Miss Universe pageant raked in an incredible 1.5 billion baht (around £33 million) in revenue, a whopping 50% increase from the year before. Net profit also soared, showing the pageant’s impressive financial muscle. 

Another example is Nawat Itsaragrisil, the organiser of Miss Grand Thailand. Earlier this year, his stock portfolio reportedly surpassed a staggering 3 billion baht (around £66 million). That’s some serious growth in a short time!


Thai beauty pageants are thriving businesses

Is it All Glittering Gold?

Organising a pageant is no small feat. Venue rentals can be astronomical, especially if you aim for a glamorous location. Creating the perfect ambience involves everything from elaborate stage sets and lighting to top-notch sound systems – all of which come with a hefty price tag. Then there’s the cost of recruiting contestants, from travel expenses to training and wardrobe. It’s a significant investment upfront.

The biggest risk? The event itself flopping. If ticket sales fall short of expectations, it can leave a gaping hole in the budget. Even worse, if the pageant fails to generate buzz or interest from viewers and the media, it can damage the entire organisation’s reputation. In such cases, the initial investment might not be recovered, leading to significant financial losses.

Changing Consumer Tastes And The Pressure Game

Another risk factor is changing consumer preferences. As people become more aware of unrealistic beauty standards, the whole concept of beauty pageants could be questioned. Are they just promoting a narrow ideal of beauty that puts pressure on women?

Keeping The Crown Untarnished

Maintaining a good reputation is crucial for both the contestants and the industry. In the past, beauty queens weren’t constantly under the spotlight. Social media wasn’t around, so their every move wasn’t scrutinised. Nowadays, one misstep online can damage the reputation of the queen and the pageant.


The Future of Thai Pageantry

Beauty pageants are undeniably popular in Thailand, but the question remains: can this trend be sustained? Only time will tell if Thai entrepreneurs can continue capitalising on this billion-baht business.

Key Takeaways

Despite the financial risks, there’s no denying the enduring appeal of beauty pageants in Thailand. They provide a platform for women to showcase their talents and compete for national glory. These events can even launch successful careers, fostering a sense of national pride. Beyond the glitz, pageants can act as a launchpad for social change, as seen with the rise of LGBTQ+ awareness through pageants like Miss Tiffany’s Universe. And let’s not forget – they’re simply a lot of fun!


Want To Capitalise On Trends For Your Business?

While this blog explored the world of beauty pageants, capitalising on trends applies to many businesses. Looking to leverage trends for your own business success? Consider reaching out to an award-winning digital marketing agency like Primal Digital Agency in Bangkok. Our experts can help you identify and navigate the ever-changing business landscape. Just like the Thai pageant industry has adapted and thrived, so can your business!

Contact us for a free consultation – no strings attached.