In recent years, the company has expanded @cosme’s presence in several APAC countries such as Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia and China.
Expanding further into China
Most recently, the company launched an official flagship store on Tmall specifically for the domestic China market, to capitalise on general trade sales in the country.
Prior to this, it conducted cross-border e-commerce sales to China through its official international flagship store on Tmall
Senior vice president Hajime Endo said the new ‘general trade’ flagship store minimised the risk of being impacted by China’s constantly changing e-commerce laws.
“Although the postponement of the implementation of new cross-border e-commerce regulations… has been extended indefinitely beyond 2019, risks remain with regard to compliance with the new regulations once they come into force.
“By leveraging its e-commerce experience accrued from its domestic and international operations to set up cross-border e-commerce stores as well as general trade e-commerce stores within China, istyle aims to provide comprehensive support and become a stable and powerful platform for cosmetics brands’ access to China.”
The move brings istyle a step closer to the possibility of opening a brick-and-mortar store in China, said Endo.
Popularity of J-beauty rising in APAC
The accelerated expansion of @cosme in the last few years is driven by rising demand for Japanese beauty products in APAC.
He believes this trend is driven largely by the Internet and its ability to spread awareness on a global scale.
For instance, the popularity of @cosme’s affiliated ranking and review website is arguably one of the most influential beauty websites in Asia, even though it started out targeting Japanese beauty consumers.
Endo said APAC consumers continue to seek Japanese-made beauty products because it is associated with safety and quality.
“APAC consumers trust Japanese cosmetic products because of the safety. They trust in the quality and how that quality is maintained.”
He added that Japanese products also fulfilled consumers’ demand for more functional products.
“In Japan, consumers spend more on cosmetics and Japanese cosmetic companies try to create products that have high-functionality. So they are known for function because Japanese companies have been creating such products for longer.
Endo highlighted that increasing consumption of Japanese beauty products in APAC is influenced by the change in buying power.
“Before, consumers were buying daily necessities and their motivations were hygiene-focused. Today, they want to buy more luxury products and products are bought for beauty and vanity reasons.”
Endo believes that there are many Japanese brands have not been fully exposed in APAC, creating opportunities for growth.
“Right now, Korean brands have more awareness in the market. Japanese brands have not approached the overseas markets that much in previous years. I would say they have only just started to look into markets abroad.”
Eyeing ASEAN expansion
Endo said the company is very interested in expanding to more countries in the ASEAN region.
Last November, the company launched its first @cosme store in Thailand and has already opened its second branch in February.
It already has an e-commerce presence in Malaysia but hopes to expand there as well as in Indonesia, Vietnam and Singapore.
However, Endo said these plans may change due to the rapidly changing trends in the cosmetics market.
“Information is moving very fast because of the Internet. I cannot say what will happen in five years. We will observe and see where the demand is and will choose our market based on that.”