Minority report: Kao launches Rakuten-exclusive products designed to meet the needs of the few

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Kao develops products that focuses on ‘individual deep concerns’ such as foot odour and belly button lint. [Kao Corp]
Kao develops products that focuses on ‘individual deep concerns’ such as foot odour and belly button lint. [Kao Corp]

Related tags Kao R&D e-commerce

Japan’s Kao Corporation has developed a special collection of products that focuses on ‘individual deep concerns’ such as foot odour and belly button lint.

SPOT JELLY Navel Pack, a belly button cleansing mask, and ARGINISTA, a deodorising foot soap are the first limited-run products were developed by Kao’s open innovation platform, Funtech Lab & Biz and exclusively available on Japanese e-commerce platform Rakuten.

The former uses two gel formulations which must be mixed before being dispensed into the navel. Once the gel formula hardens, the user can peel it from the navel.

Kao claims that this can remove the sebum and dead skin cells that collect in the belly button and cause odour.

The gel formula itself was inspired by the material used in dental treatments to create teeth moulds and will not damage the navel area, said Kao.

Another sensitive and less spoken about issue Funtech Lab & Biz identified was foot odour and it developed ARGINISTA, a solid soap containing arginine, which it claims is able to cleanse away odour-causing sweat, sebum and dead skin that accumulate on the feet.

Additionally, the soap is scented with a fruity, floral and musky fragrance that Kao claimed can give users a ‘clean skin smell’.

Next big hit?

According to Kao, these novel products were developed based on ideas from its in-house lab.

“These products have been designed and developed by soliciting ideas and technologies from our in-house laboratories, with the aim of addressing the concerns of the minority and the deep concerns of the individual to which little attention has been paid in the past,”​ said Makiko Takahashi, press officer for Kao Corporation.

The company chose to launch the new products on the Rakuten Creators' Products platform as it allows the company to gather insight about the products through Rakuten data and consumer surveys.

This would allow the company to improve on the product and potentially make it available to the mass market if it observes a demand for them, said Takahashi.

“The Rakuten Creators' Products section, where our two products are introduced, is unique in that it allows us to use Rakuten data such as clicks, sales and product reviews for the purpose of moving from a small production run to an official launch. We believe that by using this information effectively, we will be able to provide our customers with more satisfying products to solve their problems,” ​said Takahashi.

Takahashi said that with Funtech Lab & Biz, Kao is able to “take on the challenge​” of developing niche products and services that may fall outside of the firm’s own brands and hinted that the team was developing new products.

“It’s socially important to offer solutions to the problems of many people. On the other hand, it is also very important to offer solutions to the problems of a minority of people to whom attention is less likely to be paid. At Funtech Lab & Biz, we want to focus on solving the problems and increasing satisfaction of the individual, even if it is only a small number of people.”

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