business

Cosmetics giant Shiseido gambles on 'Made in Japan'

19 Comments
By Etienne Balmer and Natsuko Fukue

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19 Comments

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Despite the highest labour costs, Shiseido is not the only company to bring back production to its home base. In 2017, Kose Corporation sold its factory in China to boost its presence in Japan.

Yet you still are not going to pay a living wage to the people you hire to work for you! Wait, I'll bet you are counting on having those workers from China come here too!

6 ( +10 / -4 )

I actually think this is a good idea, people will pay for a product that isn't mass produced.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

I actually think this is a good idea, people will pay for a product that isn't mass produced.

With the prices of Shiseido? I doubt it.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

Shiseido has very good skin care but their cosmetics is laggy way behind (with the exception of their newest foundation).

A 'made in Japan' approach to cosmetics will work in Japan, but the money isn't with the people who will wait 10 years for Japan to catch up to international brands that also have incredible quality but innovate at a much more efficient pace. Production in Japan takes time because of the bureaucracy of it all.

Let's be real here. 'made in Japan' 'made in America' 'made in Korea' - here's what they're saying... not made in China. All of these places have top tier level safety and quality assurance, but Japan lags so far behind in innovation and efficiency. It took until this year for Shiseido to pass into mainstream cosmetics in the west because they finally came up with a medium coverage foundation (as opposed to a BB cream level coverage) with something innovative in the market (self-refreshing foundation). It blew up in the west, and sorry, the cosmetic money is international.

Japan has its unique cosmetic style but the cutesy - baby face style basically is a niche that stays within this island. It doesn't translate abroad, even in Korea. People who buy cosmetics regularly enough to generate a hefty profit are young people. Young people don't buy Japanese brands, even in Japan, really. They have nothing to offer.

I'm all for domestic production, the more the better, no question. But Japan doesn't have a young enough population to not be producing internationally attractive products.

But if they wanna be able to really innovate they'll need that 外国 coin and you're not going to be able to get that without producing 'made in Japan' products that appeal to more than the elderly or people who's makeup tastes don't extend beyond 2002. Sorry, not sorry.

1 ( +8 / -7 )

Shiseido is always expensive so you might as well get the made in Japan part. Cosmetics have such an insane margin that they could probably keep prices the same and still make obscene profits!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I am all for boosting local employment at hopefully DECENT wages, but the example used below:

"Where it's possible we are introducing robots, AI, and digital production capacities. But we still need people, employees that have high craftmanship and skills," said Uotani. In Otawara for example, while machines fill the bottles, lines of employees in white, blue or pink overalls fix the tops -- there are too many different types of container to automate this process.

HARDLY speaks of craftsmanship or skill......

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Shiseido is not a cruelty-free brand, so better to avoid and go for a brand which is. So many brands on the market which are more ethical, organic and most likely to give more superior results.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Stop animal testing and I'll consider.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

*The gamble on high-cost, high-quality domestically produced goods*

It's not a gamble. Many people everywhere want, and most importantly pay for, high quality goods. They even mentioned Shiseido's quadrupled exports since 2013. They must be doing something right for the people who don't mind paying extra to get extra.

It's only when you're promoting junk goods sold at bottom dollar from China does the idea of 'high cost, high quality' become some kind of risky proposition for the company, and something to be wary of for the consumer. It's just another article written in a way to make out like Japan is doing something wrong because a luxury brand is charging proper prices for proper quality.

Even Shiseido's Uotani admits that the nimble South Koreans have the advantage on this front.

"They are good competitors... They are quite efficient, their development time is quite short, which allows them to be very reactive to the market," he said.

This is pure lip service. The South Koreans might be 'nimble' but if their failed attempt at a folding smart phone and a failed attempt at being the first with 5G (the US was first, and actually it's more like 4.5G going by koreatimes.co.kr articles state) are two recent examples of how having short development times isn't necessarily a good thing, nor is it something that you want to blow up in your face too often. Japanese companies would rather take the slowly but surely approach and maintain a far better image.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

it's good if they pay a proper wage and have zero overtime hours.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

*only if

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Korean cosmetic brands have already overtaken their Japanese predecessors (like cars and electronics and so many other industries).

Still nice they want to make things here.

Should use the fabulous Deep Purple album as a soundtrack to the strategy.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

"Made In Japan" doesn't carry the cachet it once did outside of Japan.

For stuff like cosmetics, Made In Korea is the king nowadays, Made In Japan is a passe.

I wish those elderly Japanese executives would only realize this.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

South Koreans are obsessed with plastic surgery. There are even plastic surgery tourists for that huge market. The women want very expensive almost useless face creams, several kinds applied at once.

A huge market.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Cosmetics is abt effectiveness, not abt packaging.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Korean cosmetic brands have already overtaken their Japanese predecessors (like cars...

Couldn't be far more than the truth.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

@TARA TAN KITAOKA

Cosmetics is abt effectiveness, not abt packaging.

Actually this is inaccurate.

In terms of introductory products and indie brands, packaging is paramount. As with any commercial product, you only get one chance to catch the eye of a customer. The only time packaging is more or less irrelevant is in regards to widely established brands and even then, you're not going to buy a NARS or YSL concealer in a plastic white package, right? Beauty Bakerie is beloved because of their packaging. People keep Jeffree Star eyeshadow palettes as collectors pieces.

This has never not been true, but in the social media age packaging actually matters quite a bit more than the contents. Of course you can't keep a customer if your product is bad, but you can't gain a customer if the packaging is. This is just what humans are like.

===========

If you're involved in marketing at all, you know that Japan is notoriously bad at digital/viral marketing. Playing in their safe spaces and hiring 70 year old men to try and market to teenagers is actually exactly why Korea took over the 'asian' pop-culture niche in the west. Korea is also an aging society, Korea also has a big problem with bureaucracy but Korean products in general have a much more international appeal than Japanese ones (outside of cars, perhaps, but even that is changing) because Korean companies studied the international markets and molded their sales pitch to their audience. For example, Japanese cosmetics companies trying to break into western markets but refusing to stop animal testing. Good luck.

If I were a Japanese cosmetics brand owner looking to expand, I would go kitsch and go big. Make a brand with a few really solid products, pops of color, pair it with Harajuku or even steampunk-y kimono theme and throw everything you've got behind a young (actually young, not Japan young) viral star and you seriously cannot fail. You actually cannot fail. Everyone knows Japan is capable of producing quality, they don't need to convince anybody about that. Expecting 'made in Japan' to bring in new customers is lazy at best. Parallels can be drawn with the cell phone industry. Nobody buys Sony anymore, do they? Sony has been producing the same ol' same ol' for 20 years and falling back on clout purchased in the 80's- and the younger generations aren't buying it. I guarantee Shiseido is going to try and do the same with their SK-II line. Throw some kelp in a tinted moisturizer and sell it for 7000 yen an ounce year after year. Fine. If you want to market to geriatrics, go ahead but your $ will die with them.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Maybe they are speaking about the situation in Southeast Asia? In that case they are right, probably. But in Europe? No.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

@Wakarimasen

Yes, because Korea makes amazing headphones, amplifiers, cameras, games consoles, car audio systems, professional video cameras, camera sensors, etc.

And of course, a Hyundai is much better than a Toyota or a Honda.

Seriously, do some of you even think before writing?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

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