Word-of-mouth influence: KOLs such as top stylists crucial to establishing trust and recognition of Oribe in Japan

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Oribe aims to tap into the influence of key opinion leaders such as hair stylists. [Oribe]
Oribe aims to tap into the influence of key opinion leaders such as hair stylists. [Oribe]

Related tags Hair Hair care Japan

Kao Corporation has kicked-off off Oribe’s launch in Japan through premium beauty salons to tap into the influence of key opinion leaders such as hair stylists, which it believes are extremely effective at conveying the value of the brand to consumers.

Oribe was founded in 2007 by Cuban-American celebrity hairstylist Oribe Canales. The brand is widely considered the pioneer of the ultra-luxe hair care category.

The brand has a presence in around 40 markets mainly in Europe and the US. In the US, the brand offers body care and fragrance products in addition to hair care products.

The brand is available in top-class salons and high-end department stores and mainly targets consumers ‘leading a luxury lifestyle’.

In 2018, Oribe Hair Care was acquired by Japanese personal care major Kao Corporation for an undisclosed amount, opening up opportunities for the brand in the APAC region.

Kao is planning to gradually expand the brand in the Asian region to strengthen the global presence of the Kao Salon Business, which carries brands including Goldwell and KMS, that is currently more focused on Europe and the US.

After launching in Taiwan and Hong Kong, the brand made its SEA debut in Singapore in 2020 through premium hair salons.

Yuichi Akagi, president of Kao’s Japanese salon division told CosmeticsDesign-Asia​ that Oribe has had good results in the past year despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

He attributed this partly to the brand’s performance on e-commerce, as the salon and retail channels were affected by the pandemic lockdowns.

Power of word-of-mouth

This April, Oribe furthered its APAC expansion by launching in Japan with 23 products, including shampoo, hair conditioners, hair mask, leave-on treatment, and styling products.

The brand has been introduced exclusively through selected salons. The first salon that will carry Oribe is uka, a hair salon brand founded by Japanese star manicurist Kiho Watanabe.

Similar to its strategy in Singapore, the company aims to tap into a premium hair salon channel despite the COVID-19 uncertainty.

Akagi explained to us that key opinion leaders such as top hairstylists and the celebrity factor continue to drive the demand for the brand.

These influencers help to kicking off word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing, which is crucial for Oribe.

“In order to build the trust and penetration of the brand, it is important for the brand that stylists love it and convey its value to the consumers. Once the value is shared between the stylist and the consumers, the WOM can easily spread and be recognised by the consumers as an attractive brand,”​ Akagi said.

To achieve this, Oribe will focus on strengthening its relationship with the stylists through customer service training by specialists, who will convey the brand’s beauty counselling and style.

Furthermore, the brand will work with beauty professionals such as stylists, models and beauty writers in order to acquire Oribe fans, improve brand recognition, and establish its luxury brand image.

Akagi added that the brand sees an opportunity to tap into the younger consumer base, who are increasingly spending more time and money on their beauty routines.

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