Japan focus: Top stories on the Japanese cosmetics industry

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Most-read stories on the Japanese beauty market. ©GettyImages
Most-read stories on the Japanese beauty market. ©GettyImages

Related tags Japan Cosmetics

We round-up our most-read stories on the Japanese beauty market, featuring Kao’s fine-fibre skin care, Dr. Ci:Labo’s travel retail activations and Shiseido’s final year revisions.

1 – ‘Fine fibre’ first: Kao to release first cosmetic products based on skin hydration technology

Japanese cosmetics maker Kao Corporation will launch the first products based on its new ‘fine-fibre’​ technology in its domestic market from December 4, with an international roll-out following in early 2020.
Kao Corporation first announced the development of its fine fibre technology in 2018.  This technology creates a very thin and invisible layer of film on the skin and acts as a moisture barrier to keep skin hydrated.

Kao claimed that this membrane allows for quick and even application of cosmetic products. Additionally, it is able to retain products and moisture while allow skin to breathe.

The company worked with technology company Panasonic to develop a handheld diffuser device which consumers can use in the comfort of home. This dispenser uses electrospinning technology to create the film.

The company will first launch fine-fibre technology products under its brands est and Sensai as a night time skin care treatment.

2 – Playing games: J&J-owned Dr. Ci:Labo ramps up travel retail presence to attract more Chinese consumers

Japanese skin care label Dr. Ci:Labo is tapping into travel retail with a virtual interactive game​ targeted at Chinese consumers travelling in South Korea.

The game, which is exclusively available in South Korea, can be accessed via Weibo, WeChat and CTrip. It features Chinese celebrity and brand ambassador Liu Yuning and an animated character Dr. Rabbit as they journey though South Korea to “solve pore issues”.

Users can collect points by solving these puzzles and redeem special gifts including a limited-edition bottle signed by Liu Yuning, at selected Korean duty free locations operated by Shinsegae Duty Free, Lotte Duty Free, Doota Duty Free, HDC Shilla Duty Free and Hyundai Department Store.

Sandrine Tesnière, head of marketing, media and digital travel retail Johnson & Johnson told CosmeticsDesign-Asia​ that it chose to roll out the campaign in South Korea as it still remains a hot destination for Chinese tourists.

“Dr. Ci:Labo has a strong business presence in South Korea, and Chinese consumers continue to travel significantly to that destination. Chinese inbound traffic to Korea was up 28% YTD August vs. last year. So, it made sense to support our retail partners in Korea with this initiative.”

3 – Shiseido expects full-year sales to dip by as much as $275m due to market uncertainties

Japanese cosmetics maker Shiseido is revising its full-year forecast due to the increasingly challenging business environment​ in several markets.

Michael Coombs, CFO of Shiseido, said during the company’s third quarter presentation that the company was anticipating sales to dip by 25 to 30 billion yen from its previous forecast citing the weak market conditions in Hong Kong, South Korea and the US.

“External challenges that we have identified include FX, growing market uncertainties stemming from US-China trade friction, and sales decreases in Hong Kong and South Korea. Our Japan Business has also been adversely affected by unfavourable weather and other factors.”

However, Coombs noted that the company is still working towards its original target.

“We have not given up on achieving our original target of 120 billion yen in operating profit. We will strengthen our long-term marketing investments, but at the same time we will coordinate with each region to improve cost efficiency in response to the business environment and strive to improve marketing ROI.”

4 – Cream of the crop: New Japanese study claims to have developed the “perfect” skin cream

A team of Japanese scientists have developed an alpha-gel which contains a compound that resembles the main component of the skin’s moisture-retaining lipid layer.

This study was jointly carried out by Tokyo University of Science (TUS) and Miyoshi Oil and Fat. Led by Dr Kenichi Sakai, the team synthesised an α-gel using an oleic acid-based surfactant.

Alpha-gels are viscous substances formulated by mixing surfactants with a fatty alcohol and water. They are commonly used in skin care products because of their ability to retain water well.

The study claims that this alpha-gel has a structure similar to natural ceramide. Ceramide plays an important role in helping skin retain moisture. It is found in the lipid layer of the skin and forms a ‘lamellar gel’ with cholesterol, fatty acids, and water.

Sakai said one of his interests was to develop alpha-gels using two-tailed and two-headed surfactants to discover how their structural and physical properties would be different.

The properties of this new alpha-gel were evaluated using the small- and wide-angle X-ray scattering (SWAXS) technique, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, and an optical microscope.

5 – Shiseido believes Drunk Elephant has ‘only just scratched’ the surface of its potential

Japanese beauty conglomerate Shiseido is looking to accelerate US-based Drunk Elephant’s global footprint to “maximise” the brand’s opportunities​ for growth and development.

Shiseido reportedly beat out competitors such as the Estee Lauder Companies and Unilever to buy the ‘clean’ beauty for $845m. This deal is expected to close by the end of this year.

Drunk Elephant founder Tiffany Masterson will continue in her role as Chief Creative Officer and assume the additional role of President, reporting directly to Marc Rey, CEO of Shiseido Americas and Chief Growth Officer of Shiseido.

This deal marks another large skin care acquisition this year, including L’Occitane Group’s $900m purchase of ELEMIS and Unilever’s $500m deal for Tatcha.

“Shiseido sees great value in Drunk Elephant and is well placed to continue to cultivate the brand growth under the Shiseido umbrella. The potential [of the brand] has only just been scratched,”​ a spokesperson from Shiseido told CosmeticsDesign-Asia.

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