Building on its prestigious name and luxury positioning, the company has developed skin care, hair care and colour cosmetic product that helped push annual sales in the Asia Pacific region to over $2.2bn in the 2014 financial year, representing annual growth of 5%.
On the sidelines of last month’s Cosme Tokyo event in Japan last week, Cosmetics Design caught up with Akira Yokozeki, executive director of global product development for Estée Lauder’s Clinique and Origins brands, to find out more about how the company continues to launch best-selling products in the region.
What is the geographical focus for the products you develop?
I am focused on the Asia region product development, but off the back of that the products I develop often end up being marketed in other parts of the Asia Pacific region and sometimes worldwide. For example, we might develop a product specifically for the Korean market, but the idea is well received in other markets, and then can quickly the product launch will spread to the rest of the world. The idea can and often does come from Asia and then goes global.
What are the key trends in the market that are currently driving your product development?
My focus is innovation. In the Asia market the whitening and brightening trend is dominant, but at the same time, recently, consumers are more taken with innovation that brings new ideas and uses, such as BB and CC creams, or other concepts that include one product with multiple purposes. I try not to miss out on any opportunities that may arise in any market in the Asian region, and any other part of the world, for that matter.
What are the biggest challenges you face in meeting these new trends?
My challenge is that whatever idea I am working on, the first thing I have to do is put it in a calendar with an accompanying project deadline. The next step is to speak to all the different business departments, including the marketing and R&D teams, so as everyone has the same business development idea in terms of timing and cost, and everyone is aligned.
It’s like being an orchestral conductor. You have to tune up everybody and make sure everyone is playing the same kind of music, or else the music is not good. If everyone likes the song, everyone wants to play it. That’s the bottom line.
Everyone in the supply chain has to be closely involved with this process and everyone has to agree on the project if we are going to make the product launch successful.