Beauty and personal care products in Japan experienced a decline in sales in 2009, driven by the country's rapid descent into recession. As a result, Japanese consumers quickly changed their spending patterns, saving where they could by trading down and looking for bargains as well as being more economical with the products they had already purchased.
Premium products have lost popularity, resulting in a value decline of 4% in 2009. Losses were particularly prevalent in skin care due to the emergence of masstige products, with consumers generally seeking better value goods. Premium products have attempted to counteract this situation by providing consultation services to their customers in order to add value to their products. Other big beauty names have looked to overseas expansion to drive growth in their businesses. For example, Shiseido is in the process of implementing a plan to expand in neighbouring Asian markets.
It’s not all doom and gloom in Japan however. Japanese sensitivity to body odour has been a key factor in promoting sales of deodorants, registering 3% value growth in 2009.
In addition, with the ageing of the Japanese population, anti-ageing products have become popular and product lines have been expanded to appeal to older (over 40 years of age) and younger (under 30 years of age) consumers as a form of prevention. Consumers are expected to continue to focus on anti-ageing benefits over the next few years, with mass products developing better and more affordable formulas.
So what’s next for Japan? Despite the silver linings, beauty and personal care is set to post a further decline of US$2 billion by 2014 due to lingering weak consumer confidence following the recession. Hit worst of all will be the key premium cosmetics segment as consumers continue to trade down to cheaper brands.
The burning questions now are whether the all-important premium segment will be able to rebound and how Japanese purchasing behaviour, altered by the events of 2008 and 2009, will effect future cosmetic sales