Speaking to CosmeticsDesign-Asia, Maxime De Boni, vice president, L'Oréal research and innovation, North Asia and China, emphasised the significance of North Asia to the global beauty stage.
L’Oréal’s North Asia Zone covers China, Japan and Korea. Together, the region represents around one-third of the world's total beauty market, according to the French cosmetics major.
“It has a unique eco-system of what we call the ‘beauty triangle’ with C-beauty, J-beauty and K-beauty. We want to leverage the unique and powerful North Asia ecosystem to uncover the future of beauty,” said De Boni.
“We capitalise on the unique strengths of each North Asia market with our Western beauty DNA that inspires young Asian consumers, maximises synergies and empowers the development of cutting-edge innovation in the region.”
Elaborating on the strengths of each of the North Asian markets, De Boni highlighted Japan’s excellence in cosmetic science and sustainable solutions while prioritising quality and safety.
He also lauded South Korea’s ability to swiftly adapt to the latest beauty brand and its expertise in areas such skin care, beauty devices, and digital technologies.
Lastly, De Boni underscored China's potential as a powerful driving force as it expands its influence on the beauty industry.
“China has a growing beauty market and a vibrant start-up ecosystem, fostering innovation across various segments of the industry, which makes C-Beauty a fast-rising wave and a growth engine of North Asia and the world.”
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Making a big bang
As part of its aims to leverage the collective strength of the North Asia beauty triangle, L'Oréal launched the North Asia Big Bang Beauty Tech Innovation Program, also known as Big Bang.
“The objective of the L’Oréal North Asia Big Bang Beauty Tech Innovation Program – Big Bang – is to activate the unique innovation ecosystem of the C-J-K Beauty Triangle in North Asia,” said De Boni.
“This is the first regional program focused on driving opening innovation, inspiration and co-creation of innovative beauty products and experiences across China, Korea and Japan. The program discovers, supports and nurtures promising start-ups and companies with beauty tech and innovative sciences that can be scaled regionally and globally,” he elaborated.
The 2023 winners were announced in November. This included 11 Chinese companies, one China-France track company, three Japanese companies, and two Korean companies.
Reflecting on the programme and its winners, De Boni said: “Digitalisation and sustainable solutions are the trends that we observed, but the core value will be how can these innovations meet consumers’ needs and solve their pain points. What we always pay attention to is whether the technological innovations being able to bring better experience to consumers and help us better connect and interact with consumers today.”
The programme was piloted in 2020 as the Beauty Tech Open Innovation Challenge in China. From 2020 to 2023, the programme has attracted over 1,900 Chinese startups and incubated over 50 projects.
This included the Chinese biotech company SHINEHIGH Innovation, a 2022 Big Bang winner. In 2023, it received an investment through Meicifang Investment, L’Oréal China’s Corporate Venture Capital.
“This partnership enables us to co-develop novel and sustainable beauty solutions with SHINEHIGH, bringing breakthrough performances to the beauty market thanks to their world-leading application of supramolecular technology,” said De Boni.
The culmination of Big Bang came in November, unveiling the first Big Bang Beauty Tech and Innovation Platform at the 6th China International Import Expo (CIIE).
“At this year’s CIIE, 16 overseas Big Bang participants were given the opportunity to showcase their products and solutions to attendees around the world and among mutual collaborators and investors. It was a great example demonstrating how we successfully introduced the Big Bang participants to the global stage and connected them to a wider audience,” said De Boni.
De Boni concluded: “L’Oréal will strategise, create, and activate the powerful ecosystem around the North Asia Beauty Triangle as a competitive edge to unleash sustainable growth for all and inspire the world.”