‘Room for expansion’: SENSAI outlines Asia expansion plans starting with Shanghai flagship in Q4

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

SENSAI is set to unveil a flagship store in Shanghai in Q4. [SENSAI]
SENSAI is set to unveil a flagship store in Shanghai in Q4. [SENSAI]

Related tags Luxury Japan China Kao Kanebo

Japanese luxury skin care brand SENSAI is set to unveil a flagship store in Shanghai in the fourth quarter as it gears up to target China’s "affluent consumers" for future growth.

“In comparison to our competitors, there’s still room for further global expansion. For example, ​SENSAI is sold in 47 different countries right now. But the other competitors in the world are selling their products in more than 60 countries,”​ said Yosuke Maezawa, head of cosmetics, Kao Corporation.

Maezawa was speaking at Kao’s recent growth strategy briefing held on September 26.

SENSAI is a luxury skincare and cosmetics brand under Kao’s subsidiary Kanebo. SENSAI often incorporates koishimaru silk extract, a rare and precious ingredient, into many of its products. This silk extract is believed to have moisturising and skin-rejuvenating properties.

SENSAI is one of Kao’s three priority brands for global expansion. The others include Molton Brown, a British luxury cosmetics and personal care brand, and derma beauty brand Curél.

The company said it would continue its original plan to expand SENSAI’s presence in the Asian market.

“We started also in Japan and in China more recently. We will be focused on the Asian market. We will tune our brand and try to focus on the purpose that has been laid carefully and delicately. We will target the affluent Chinese consumers,”​ said Maezawa.

He revealed that the firm will launch a flagship store in Shanghai, China in the fourth quarter. The company expects to share more details about the flagship next month.

This would mark the start of SENSAI’s three-year expansion plan in China. According to the firm, it plans to increase the presence of SENSAI starting from Shanghai.

The firm is not just targeting shopping malls and department stores but also golf and yacht clubs as well a high-end hotels and spas “where affluent consumers are likely to frequent”, ​said Maezawa.

The firm hopes to apply this strategy across other cities in China and in other Asian markets as well.

Overall, the company aims to increase SENSAI’s sales globally three-fold by 2030.

Road to the top

SENSAI is part of Kao’s Global 11 (G11) brands portfolio. It is also one of Kao’s three priority brands for global expansion. The others include Molton Brown, a British luxury cosmetics and personal care brand, and derma beauty brand Curél.

The brand was established around 40 years ago in Europe and began its expansion in Asia​ in 2019 as part of its K25 growth strategy.

However, its plans were hampered by the COVID-19 global pandemic and sales started to decline from 2020.

The company believes its cosmetics business holds plenty of under-tapped potential for the company.

“The ideal state is to have multiple brands in each country and to become number one in category or segment and ultimately be one of the best 10 in the global market. In order to achieve that we will be taking advantage of our strengths,” ​said Maezawa.

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