Popular with its at-home beauty-loving consumer base, the chemicals and cosmetics company is now hoping its est range will increase its sales growth in 2018.
Entering the market
Upon its release in September 2017, Kao adopted an in-store marketing strategy, which advertised the est brand through its department stores. As the est cosmetics line main target audience is inbound tourists, Kao is now injecting resources into raising its brand and product line awareness.
When it comes to selling its lotions and products to tourists from China and Asia, Kao has a history of struggling to compete with fellow domestic skin care names, Kose and Shiseido. As such, the company is now focusing on its marketing strategy.
Carving out its identity
Kao designed est skin care to moisten the back of the skin specifically, otherwise known as stratum corneum, along with creating bright and firm skin.
Containing eucalyptus extract, est is designed to moisturise skin in harsh dry conditions to appeal to those wearers that expose their skin to various stressors such as the environment and exercise throughout the day.
In November 2017, three renowned Japanese fashion magazines — Shueisha-owned Maquia, Kodansha's VoCE and the Shogakukan's Biteki publication — independently selected est as the best skin lotion in the second-half of 2017.
Shueisha-owned Maquia, Kodansha's VoCE and Shogakukan's Biteki publication awarded est with various cosmetics accolades. The Maquia publication voted est as its cosmetics best of the best product of the year in 2017, VoCe also voted est as its number one product in the Autumn/Winter season, and the product line also won the beauty professional best Cosme award 2017.
While Kao’s recently released financial results for the fiscal year ending 31st December 2017 indicate its growing popularity in markets such as personal care in China and skin care through its Biore items, its success in the cosmetics sphere remains modest compared to other Japanese competitors.
To date, Kao’s strategy to boost sales via its est brand using a physical department store model has failed to significantly transform the division’s growth. This is in stark contrast to other notable domestic names such as Shiseido's Cle de Peau Beaute and Kose's Cosme Decorte who have used this brick-and-mortar tourist-directed approach to capture the interest and maintain the loyalty of overseas tourists.