Homecoming queen: Kao sets a date for Sensai’s return to Japan as it plans broader Asian expansion

By Amanda Lim contact

- Last updated on GMT

Sensai will be returning to Japan in September, with a China launch to follow in 2020, followed by plans to expand it around Asia. ©Sensai
Sensai will be returning to Japan in September, with a China launch to follow in 2020, followed by plans to expand it around Asia. ©Sensai
Kao Corporation has revealed that its premium brand Sensai will be returning to Japan in September, with a China launch to follow in 2020, and then plans to expand it around Asia.

“To grow Sensai further as the flagship brand in the G11 range, Kao will be introducing the brand into the Japanese market in September 2019 before a Sensai debut in China in 2020 followed by an expansion of the brand throughout Asia,”​ said the company in a statement.

The Japanese personal care company confirmed that the first outlet will be located in the Isetan Department Store at Shinjuku. Following that, the brand will launch in Osaka with a counter in Hankyu Umeda Main Store in October.

By accelerating Sensai’s expansion in Asia and reinforcing portfolio of prestige beauty brands, Kao aims to increase its cosmetics sales to Y400bn ($3.69bn) and achieve an operating income ratio of 15% by 2025.

Enhancing brand image

Launching in department stores is part of Kao’s strategy to help promote brand awareness and its brand premium brand image.

“Kao aims to heighten the presence of SENSAI in Japan and use the brand presence to leverage Sensai’s expansion throughout Asia.”

However, Kao noted that to maintain the brand’s exclusivity, it would limit the number of stores that carry the brand domestically.

In addition to the brick-and-mortar retail points, Kao said it planned to launch an online store in the autumn which will service overseas markets as well.

The launch of Sensai will see the debut of 75 products, including its range of skin care and colour cosmetic products.

The core of the SENSAI range is its AS Series, a three-piece anti-ageing line that consists of the brand’s signature ingredient, Koishimaru silk.

Targeting China

Previously, Kao announced that it planned to launch Sensai in China in 2020. Until then, the company plans to reach Chinese consumers through cross-border e-commerce and travel retail.

The brand will enter the travel retail channel in August at Narita Airport and plans to expand across other airports in Asia.

“Points of sale such as exclusive duty-free counters in Japan and other major hubs in Asia will strengthen Sensai in travel retail,”​ the company said.

Previously, Sensai had been available in 4,000 department store across more than 40 countries mainly in Europe and the Middle East.

With the rise of the J-beauty trend, Kao believes Sensai’s roots in Japanese culture and rituals and its made-in-Japan quality will resonate with Asian beauty consumers.

“The sensitive aesthetic and values of Japan are appreciated by discerning clientele at the core of the cosmetics industry who favour luxury items.”

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