Virtual value: Kao expands digital tester offerings for KATE under competitiveness push

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

 Kao Corporation has been expanding its digital tester capabilities as part of K25 plans. [Kao Corp / KATE]
Kao Corporation has been expanding its digital tester capabilities as part of K25 plans. [Kao Corp / KATE]

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Japanese multinational Kao Corporation has been expanding its digital tester capabilities as part of its K25 goals to enhance the competitiveness of its cosmetics business with digital offerings.

The company behind brands such as Kanebo, Sensai and KATE has experienced a significant decline in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kao was hit especially hard in its cosmetics business division because of the decline of colour cosmetics, which accounts for a larger ratio of its business, approximately 10% higher than the market.

As part of its K25 medium-term plan, Kao said it would accelerate its digital transformation efforts by 2025.

In particular, the company believes it was crucial to invest in digital technology for its cosmetics division in order to enhance its competitiveness.

Test, try, buy

It has been more than a year since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and for many beauty retailers, it seems like beauty testers will not be returning to shelves anytime soon for fear of contamination and transmission.

We have seen beauty brands turning to tech-driven solutions to give consumers the opportunity to try out products before buying them.

In February this year, the brand launched KATE Makeup Lab, an artificial intelligence (AI) powered by technology from beauty tech firm Perfect Corp.

The KATE Make Up Lab is hosted on the brand’s official LINE account and is built on AI technology that can measure facial proportions.

This facial analysis tool, KATE SCAN, informs consumers about their facial proportion while making product recommendations and allowing consumers to try on the products.

According to the company, the programme drove more than two million virtual try-on interacts in just one week after its launch. In a month, the brand’s official website saw traffic increase 30 times.

New areas of play

Most recently, the popular drugstore brand announced that it had launched a virtual testing programme, Tester Play, that utilises AR to let consumers view a short video of the product on a model.

The moving model was designed to give consumers a more realistic simulation of the colour, finish, and texture of the product better than a static image could.

Shoppers can access the virtual tester via their smartphones, using the camera function to hover over the product display. This would trigger the video to play on their phones.

At the moment, the Tester Play virtual try-on has been implemented for KATE eyeshadows but the company said it would be working to enhance the programme and expand its use.

KATE Tester Play follows a slew of innovations Kao has piloted in order to engage consumers virtually.

In May, make-up brand Primavista launched an interactive simulator on LINE that allows consumers to virtually ‘touch’ foundations and observe the colour and texture on a digital screen.

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