Yakult’s China cosmetics foray: Firm taps Tmall for cosmetic range growth

By Guan Yu Lim contact

- Last updated on GMT

Yakult opens Tmall flagship store selling cosmetic range derived from lactic acid bacteria ©Yakult / Tmall Global
Yakult opens Tmall flagship store selling cosmetic range derived from lactic acid bacteria ©Yakult / Tmall Global

Related tags: Japan, China, Lactic acid, tmall

Yakult has opened a flagship store on Tmall Global, the cross-border e-commerce platform run by Alibaba, as it eyes growing interest for Japanese cosmetics among Chinese consumers.

Japan’s Yakult is known for its probiotic beverages, but has sold cosmetic products in its home market since in 1971.

This is the first time Yakult is selling its cosmetics in an overseas market, although its toiletry products and hand gel are sold in Taiwan through Yakult Taiwan.

A total of 44 facial skincare products will be available on Tmall Global, mostly from its Lactdew, Revecy White, Revecy, Parabio and Ikitel ranges.

Online cosmetics

Hideki Maruyama, from Yakult Honsha’s public relations told CosmeticsDesign-Asia​ that the firm chose Tmall Global as it was the largest e-commerce site in China. In addition: “Japanese cosmetic brands are popular (in China) and in general the country has one of the higher interests in purchasing cosmetics.​”

According to market research firm, Daxue Consulting, the Chinese cosmetics market was the second largest in the world after the US, with sales reaching RMB261.9 billion (US$37bn) in 2018.

In China, consumers were also increasingly shopping for cosmetics online, rising from 53.4% in 2014 to 74.2% in 2018, making online platforms an important channel for brands to reach out to these consumers.

Yakult is hoping to achieve sales of JPY100m (US$946,000) by March 2021.

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Lactic acid bacteria

In China, Maruyama said cosmetics with moisturising and anti-ageing functions form the bulk of the market, following large consumer interest especially among younger people for anti-ageing properties.

For instance, Yakult’s Lactdew and Parabio is tapping into this market, with its moisturising and anti-ageing benefits.

All of Yakult’s 44 cosmetic products contain an ingredient derived from lactic acid bacteria, which the company calls Shirota Essence (S.E.).

Shirota Essence is a moisturising ingredient created by fermenting milk with a specific lactic acid bacteria. It highly resembles the skin’s natural moisturising factor, so it blends well into the skin​,” Maruyama said.

It is based on the Yakult’s skin care idea that lactic acid bacteria function to protect the guy mucosa and skin.

The company is constantly exploring the functions of lactic acid bacteria for human health, whether in dermatology, food, beverage or pharmaceutical.

Besides China, there are no plans to expand its cosmetics products into other markets. In Japan, these products are sold via home delivery and e-commerce.

Tmall taps beauty trend

Earlier this year, Tmall announced that it plans to incubate 1,000 new beauty brands this year, as it seeks to achieve RMB10m (US$1.4m) in annual revenues.

Beauty is major category for e-commerce, as they are light, easy to ship and high-margin products. They are also visual products, which makes it easier to market online.

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