Hair care products lead Japan’s naturals market

By Natasha Spencer

- Last updated on GMT

Natural hair care in Japan

Related tags Cosmetics

As the global natural cosmetics sector is one of the fastest growth segments within the beauty industry, we spoke to  Jorge Larranaga, Senior Manager, Manufacturing Division at Number Three in Japan to find out why the Japanese market is no exemption.

“Many brands in the Japanese market are following the natural trend and the number of products containing natural and organic ingredients is growing,”​ said Jorge Larranaga, Senior Manager, Manufacturing Division at Number Three, a hair salon professional products company.

“Particularly in the Japanese hair care market and according to latest data from Fuji Keizai, natural products represent a 12% share of the market,”​ added Larranaga.

Brands will typically invest in product R&D to access the Japanese natural markets, whilst focusing on gaining a competitive advantage.

For a Japanese company, the main challenge is to source natural and organic ingredients. Natural resources in Japan are limited, and there are not many manufacturers able to supply ingredients at the volume and price required by the industry,”​ said Larranaga.

“Importing ingredients is, therefore, the only option, which complicates the development of products and increases the final product cost. Due to this challenge, foreign brands have been able to find a niche in the natural and organic market in Japan.”

However, Larranaga emphasised the similarities between the challenges faced by brands accessing the Japanese cosmetics market along with those entering other international sectors: “They will face the same regulatory challenges, high customer quality ​standards and product performance exigencies”.

Consumer influence

All brands looking to enter the cosmetics market will need to first achieve “strict quality standards on the selection of ingredients, manufacturing process and packaging operations”​.

In today’s APAC cosmetics market, price points are not the only deciding factor when it comes to consumer purchasing decisions: “Japanese consumers are savvy; they won’t mind spending more on products that meet their quality and performance expectations”.

“The Japanese market is a very mature market,”​ emphasised Larranaga. He highlighted that although the latest market data provided by Total Planning Center Osaka calculated the growth in 2015 to be below 2%, “as per the latest Euromonitor data, Japan still has the highest per-capita spending on cosmetics and personal care products in the world and is the second largest market for professional hair care products”​.

Although the entire cosmetics and beauty sector is being explored in Japan, “hair care represents the highest growth segment for natural products”​, said Larranaga. “Innovative beauty rituals based on natural ingredient properties are also well received in Japan, as well as baby products.”

Market benefits

To date, Japanese manufacturers have yet to expand into the natural market in Japan as this is “dominated by overseas brands that have traditionally enjoyed a good reputation on this segment”.

“This fact makes the natural market particularly inviting for companies who are able to meet Japanese customers’ expectations and are not afraid to enter in a very demanding market environment,”​ said Larranaga.

“While established companies have to set the bar high for natural cosmetics, those companies with enough ambition will find an accessible mature market where luxury brands distributed through the right channels enjoy high margins and exceptional growth compared with other APAC markets,”​ added Larranaga.

Jorge Larranaga, Senior Manager, Manufacturing Division at Number Three in Japan will be speaking on Accessing the Japanese Naturals Market: Opportunities and Pitfalls at 11.20am on Monday 14th November at the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit.

For more information on the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit  in Hong Kong on 14th - 15th November 2016, visit

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