Sunny potential: Kao Corp hedges bets on Bioré to dominate sun care globally

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Kao aims to lead the global sun care category by leveraging the strength of the Bioré brand and its ‘unique’ technology. [Bioré]
Kao aims to lead the global sun care category by leveraging the strength of the Bioré brand and its ‘unique’ technology. [Bioré]

Related tags Kao Sun care Japan

Japanese personal care major Kao Corporation aims to lead the global sun care category by leveraging the strength of the Bioré brand and its ‘unique’ technology.

Kao recognised the global sun care market as a crucial factor for the company, due to its significant size and projected expansion.

“Sun care is a major category, and we aim to become a global sharp top in the sun care market because the market size is big and the growth is expected,”​ said Kotaro Nuriya, head of health and beauty care, Kao.

“The global market size is about 1.5 trillion yen (USD). It's growing every year and future growth is expected. Due to the pandemic, the growth was suspended for about two years. But this year with the extreme heat in the world, and as people started to go out more, future growth is now expected.”

Nuriya was speaking at a briefing held on September 26 to highlight its growth strategy for its cosmetics and skin protection businesses.

Kao is the company behind several sun care products, most notably from Bioré and Allie.

The firm outlined its plans to become a “global sharp top”​ in the skin protection business, which consists of its sun care, self-tanning, and environmental skin protection units.

Nuriya highlighted that there were “no global top brands”​ clearly leading the category. Especially given the regulatory challenges around the sun care category.

“For example, in Asia, it’s considered a cosmetic product, but in the US, it’s managed under the regulation for over-the-counter pharmaceuticals. Therefore, the market entry is challenging… This is one of the characteristics of this category, which means that if you can overcome the regulations and laws, there are major business opportunities. Kao and Bioré have overcome such difficulties.”

As such the company has managed to expand Bioré into North America and Europe this year.

An ‘unstatisfied’ market

Despite the common use of sunscreens, Kao’s research has shown that a significant number still experience sunburns and are generally “unsatisfied” ​with their current sun care products, revealing a global concern for UV protection and an underserved market, said Nuriya.

Kao is confident in its competitive edge, boasting superior products that combine advanced sunscreen efficacy and a pleasant texture. Central to this is its coating technology.

“Kao has developed a long-lasting unique coating technology that covers even the micro-sized gaps. More specifically, the UV protection agent is contained in a capsule. This developed with our in-house manufacturing technology from Kao’s chemical business. We have a patent for this. It’s a unique, one and only technology. Thanks to this, Kao’s UV care products are supported by many people around the world,” ​said Nuriya.

Kao’s current state

This year, Kao’s sun care sales experienced substantial growth, attributed to market recovery post-pandemic and enhanced market share.

“The market is expected to increase by 30% and Kao’s market share is expected to improve significantly by almost 30% to just over 22% in Japan. And as a result, we expect shipments to exceed 60% for the whole season. The market has returned to its more or less normal level in September but due to the lingering summer heat, shipments have remained very strong,”​ said Nuriya.

The driving force behind this strong performance was the launch of Bioré UV Aqua Rich Aqua Protect Mist. The non-aerosol spray sunscreen was launched early this year and surpassed five million units in sales in four and half months.

“Many people have bought a second bottle to reapply when they go out, which has contributed significantly to market expansion. This year, the product became a big hit with a market share of more than 7%. It was also thankfully, very highly acclaimed as a hit product by the mass media. We believe that this product has grown into a product that will have a strong impact for the full year,”​ said Nuriya.

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