Monster hit: KATE struggling to keep bestselling mask-friendly lipstick in stock as demand swells

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

KATE is facing supply issues as demand for its bestselling mask-friendly lipstick, Lip Monster, soars. [Kao Corp / KATE]
KATE is facing supply issues as demand for its bestselling mask-friendly lipstick, Lip Monster, soars. [Kao Corp / KATE]

Related tags Lip color make-up Logistics Kao

Japanese make-up brand KATE is facing supply issues as demand for its bestselling mask-friendly lipstick, Lip Monster, soars among consumers.

KATE is a highly popular mass-market make-up brand owned by Kanebo, a subsidiary of personal care major Kao Corporation.

In November, Kanebo was compelled to issue an apology for failing to keep up with the market demand for Lip Monster, a transfer-resistant, mask-friendly lipstick it launched over six months ago in Japan.

“We have received a strong response from the market immediately after its release… it has been a big hit and the product has been in short supply. We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused to our customers,” ​said Kanebo in a statement released to the press.

Lip Monster launched with a total of 11 colours, including four online exclusive shades.

Since it launched, the company has sold over 1.2 million lipsticks and has recorded a market share of 55% in Japan, according to INTAGE SRI data.

The product has since been launched in other markets including Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore.

The company said it would be gradually strengthening its supply of Lip Monster from December 14 onwards.

“Currently, we are working to deliver products to our customers as soon as possible. We will continue to strive for a stable supply, we appreciate your patience until then.”

In the meantime, Kanebo said it would be launching miniature versions of Lip Monster in the two most popular shades on December 18 at select stores to bolster supplies.

Additionally, it has also scheduled the release of a new range of minis with four limited-edition shades next year on January 22 in select stores.

Kanebo is not the only cosmetics company to have experienced supply chain difficulties recently.

In November, CosmeticsDesign-Asia reported​ that K-beauty giant LG Household & Health Care reported a 2.9% dip in sales in its third-quarter due to an intensified logistics crunch the firm attributed to the preparation of mega-shopping festivals such as Double 11 and Black Friday.

Colour retention tech

KATE Lip Monster was developed in response to the increased use of protective face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has dealt a severe blow to make-up sales, and especially lipstick, globally.

Despite the pandemic, Kanebo said its consumers, especially the younger generation, still wanted to enjoy the use of make-up and liked to have make-up on for moments they do remove their masks in public.

This created demand for lipsticks that was long-lasting and transfer-resistant, while also having moisturising properties.

Lip Monster featured Kanebo’s proprietary colour retention technology, which transforms the moisture that evaporates from the lips into an adhesive gel film that sits atop the lipstick.

This gel film acts as a barrier that helps retain the pigment, making the lipstick resistant to smudging on surfaces such as cups or protective face masks.

This, said the company, allowed the lipstick to retain its ‘freshly applied look’​ for longer despite being a gel lipstick. At the same time, Lip Monster is moisturising on the lips, unlike typical matte lipsticks.

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