Japanese beauty brands accelerate efforts in Asia amid growing popularity

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Japanese beauty brands accelerate efforts in Asia amid growing popularity
Reports that cosmetic giants Shiseido and Kao ramping up efforts in Asia signal the growing popularity of Japanese cosmetics amongst consumers in the region.

Japanese publication Nihon Keizin Shimbun reported that Shiseido has plan to increase sales of its eponymous brand by 50% to ¥200bn ($1.77) by 2020.

Meanwhile, the Nikkei Asian Review reported that its rival, Kao, already has plans in place to challenge Shiseido’s market share in China by its premium skin care offerings.

Speaking at the TFWA (Tax Free World Association) World Exhibition and Conference, Philippe Lesné, Shiseido Travel Retail President and CEO, suggested that Japanese beauty has yet to reach its peak potential.

“Despite its long heritage and traditions, Japanese Beauty is really only now starting to blossom on the global stage,” ​said Lesné.

“Built on foundations of a very strong domestic beauty market in Japan and a lot of attention on Japan as a destination and cultural reference, the Japanese Beauty segment represents a huge opportunity…”

Stepping up on marketing efforts

In order to achieve its ambitious target, Nihon Keizin Shimbun said that Shiseido will increase its marketing efforts in Asia.

Just last week, Shiseido announced that it was creating a “ground-breaking” art installation at Jewel Changi Airport, an upcoming retail development and tourist destination in Singapore.

A preview of the interactive ‘S E N S E’ art installation was unveiled to attendees during the TFWA (Tax Free World Association) World Exhibition and Conference.

According to a statement by the company, the art installation is meant to “invite the visitors to discover the invisible, spiritual and meaningful Japanese sense of beauty through art.”

“This partnership links to our strategic approach to create more meaningful and engaging experiences for our customers, beyond the realms of traditional retail,”​ said Lesné. “As a brand, Shiseido is perfectly captured within the Forest Valley experience.”

Before that, the company named Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi as the latest global brand ambassador for Clé de Peau Beauté in September to further establish the luxury brand in China.

Last year, Shiseido exceeded it 2020 sales target of ¥1 trillion yen ($8.8bn), three years ahead of schedule.

According to the 2017 annual report, China alone generated ¥144.3bn ($1.3bn) of sales for the company, making it Shiseido’s largest overseas market, and second only to Japan itself.

Shiseido’s prestige brands made up the lion’s share of the sales at 42%. Chinese market saw 20.1% growth year-on-year, while Asia Pacific grew 11.2%.

Kao’s high-end plans

This May 2018, Kao created a New Global Portfolio as part of its new strategy to grow its cosmetic business, where performance have been lacklustre.

Sales of cosmetics declined 4.8% year-on-year while sales of skin care and hair care fell by 1%. Together, the company posted net sales of ¥586bn ($5.2bn) for its beauty division.

In a statement, Kao shared that it planned to rejuvenate its beauty offerings by placing emphasis on its prestige portfolio, which includes brands such as Sensai, Kanebo, RMK, Suqqu and SOFINA.

Last month, Kao launched the Sofina iP range of skin care in China after the line proved to be successful in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore.

A representative for Kao told Cosmetics Design Asia that Sofina IP has been doing well since it launched in China and has even noticed a rise in new customers.

Currently, Kao has plans bring two of its biggest luxury brands to China. Sensai will be launched in 2020, which Kanebo is slated to arrive later after 2022. However, the rep notes that the latter is “not fixed yet”.

Like Kao, South Korean beauty conglomerate Amorepacific turned its efforts on pushing out its luxury products after posting a shocking loss in 2017.

For 2018, the company positioned itself as a global luxury brand, and made sure to enhance the position of Sulwahsoo, its premium skin care line, by positioning it as a leading luxury brand. This strategy helped Amorepacific rebound from its slump in the second quarter this year.

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