Korean brands set to knock Shiseido off Asia beauty top spot

By Lucy Whitehouse

- Last updated on GMT

Korean brands set to knock Shiseido off Asia beauty top spot

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Shiseido is at risk of losing its long-held top spot in the APAC beauty industry arena, with Korean beauty brand AmorePacific one company in particular which is tipped to move out in front.

Recent reports from various outlets have observed that Japanese Shiseido's ageing domestic consumer base has forced the company to look abroad for continued sales growth - where the company's performance is much weaker than some of the rising stars of k-beauty, and its operating costs higher.

AmorePacific and LG are two such brands singled out by the Nikkei Asian Review​ with the potential to overtake the beauty giant, while Bloomberg​ suggests western multinationals, such as L'Oréal and Estée Lauder, are also hot on its heels.

Indeed globally, both Estée Lauder and L'Oreal boast much healthier global profit margins than Shiseido, as does AmorePacific.

With sales of $6.59 billion USD for the last financial year, Shiseido remains the continent's biggest cosmetics company – but AmorePacific in particular is gaining ground, with the brand now almost matching the Japanese player for sales in the region's key market of China.

Working abroad

Although one of the first international brands to establish a sales network in China, Shiseido made what some commentators consider a misstep in prioritising imports to the country rather than developing a physical retail presence, and is now having to restructure its operations there as a result.

AmorePacific and LG, on the other hand, have cultivated a strong store portfolio in China from the start, a tactic which has proved much more successful.

"The population of cosmetics users in China has topped 150 million and will reach 200 million sooner or later​," Suh Kyung-bae, chairman and chief executive officer of AmorePacific, told the Asian Review recently, confirming the importance of the market to beauty brands.

Younger consumers

Shiseido, however, is not the only beauty player having to contend with an ageing population in Asia: Korean beauty brands are now also making efforts​ to reach younger domestic consumers too.

While currently on a par in China, it remains to be seen whether AmorePacific will be able to match Shiseido, or even overtake it, in markets more widely.

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