Brand story: Recent developments from the biggest names in beauty across APAC

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

A round up of our most-read brand-related stories of the region, featuring Shiseido, Unilever, L’Oréal and SK-II. [L’Oréal Group]
A round up of our most-read brand-related stories of the region, featuring Shiseido, Unilever, L’Oréal and SK-II. [L’Oréal Group]

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We round up of our most-read brand-related stories of the region, featuring Shiseido, Unilever, L’Oréal and SK-II.

1 – ‘No limit to the growth potential of China’: L’Oréal’s next CEO eyes major opportunities for skin care and hair care

French cosmetics giant L’Oréal continues to see more growth potential in China​, especially in its skin care and hair care categories.

Speaking during the firm’s FY2020 earnings conference on February 12, deputy CEO Nicolas Hieronimus said furthering the growth in China would be one of its key areas of focus.

“We are the number one beauty group in China, and we have been lucky to have two brands Lancôme and L’Oréal, well, really the favourite brands of Chinese consumers. And we see a lot of – still a lot of growth potential in this country,”​ said Hieronimus.

Hieronimus was named as the successor to current chief Jean-Paul Agon in October 2020 and will take over on May 1.

2 – Human touch: How Shiseido is using tech to make 2021 ‘the year of the empowered beauty consultant’

Shiseido is adamant that human contact is still essential to drive beauty sales but believes it can be enhanced greatly by tools​ such as Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality, according to its chief digital officer.

Angelica Munson, global chief digital officer at Shiseido, highlighted just how essential beauty tech tools like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (AR) became for beauty brands in the aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“COVID-19 gave rise to this very digitally powered stay-at-home economy. It has hyper-accelerated all the consumer behaviours… In retail, we call it the new retail world order… And it forces us to rethink how we sell and how we service. AI and AR were just amongst the few digital technologies in our category that essentially kept the economy going,”​ she said.

Like many companies, Shiseido accelerated its digital development last year, pushing out a raft of initiatives like livestreaming and video counselling.

3 – ‘A new era of beauty’: Unilever to remove word ‘normal’ from beauty packaging and ads

Personal care major Unilever is revamping its packaging and advertising to remove the descriptor ‘normal’​ in a move aimed at fuelling inclusivity and positivity across its global portfolio to align better with consumer expectations.

The announcement made today was part of Unilever’s consumer-facing Positive Beauty vision and strategy that would see it “champion a new era of beauty which is equitable and inclusive, as well as sustainable for the planet”.

As well as removing the word ‘normal’ from its branding and advertising to describe hair or skin type, Unilever had also pledged to not digitally alter body shape, size, proportions or skin colour in any of its advertising and increase the number of ads portraying “people from diverse groups who are under-represented”.

“The decision to remove ‘normal’ is one of many steps that we are taking to challenge narrow beauty ideals, as we work towards helping to end discrimination and advocating for a more inclusive vision of beauty,” Unilever said.

4 – PODCAST: A global beauty view on COVID-19 – hottest acquisitions, flashy innovations and biggest challenges

CosmeticsDesign editors break down the beauty and personal care acquisitions, product innovations and challenges that have arisen under the pressure​ of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this exclusive podcast, Kacey Culliney, editor of CosmeticsDesign-Europe; Deanna Utroske, editor of CosmeticsDesign; and Amanda Lim, editor of CosmeticsDesign-Asia, come together again to discuss how the beauty and personal care industry is adapting to the dramatic shifts in beauty.

Despite the difficulties of COVID-19, Culliney believes it has been an “exciting​” year so far.

“There's been plenty going on in terms of mergers and acquisitions and innovation and new product launches, which has been rather exciting considering what could be arguably defined as a difficult year for industry.”

5 – Bridging the gap: SK-II turns to personalisation to forge closer consumer connections via e-commerce

Procter & Gamble-owned skin care brand SK-II is reinforcing its e-commerce business​ with personalised beauty initiatives to deepen its bond with consumers in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Against the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the brand saw its e-commerce business grow 7% in 2020 to account for 28% of its business.

“2020 has been a challenging year in the face of such rapidly shifting dynamics. We’ve seen that some channels are recovering slower than others, including less footfall to department stores, for example,”​ said Sandeep Seth, CEO, Global SK-II.

In the past few years, the brand has been steadily expanding its online presence and its online partners include Tmall, Rakuten and brick-and-mortar retailer than have expanded online such as Sephora, Aeon and Lotte.

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