Expert's Opinion

What's Next in Beauty?

By Katie Kuhn, Strategist, Anthem Worldwide | June 18, 2012

Katie Kuhn finds emerging trends in Japan.

Japanese women and men have high standards for beauty and personal care, which has made Japan an advanced, much watched market in the beauty industry. The country spends upwards of $200 per capita on cosmetics and toiletries, which is over 4.5 times the per capita spend in the U.S. Looking at the beauty market in Japan today, emerging and popular beauty and personal care product solutions include Mobile Beauty, Self-Service Beauty, and Ready-to-Drink (RTD) Beauty Beverages.


Mobile beauty, known in Japan as “Moba Beau,” refers to small beauty devices, both electronic and non-electronic, that are designed to be taken on-the-go. The mobile beauty market in Japan has been growing over the last couple of years, and the devices can be easily found at Japanese retail stores. The devices tend to be for face or body needs and often come in bright, feminine packaging.

Among the electronic devices, Panasonic is an active producer of personal care devices. Products includethe Pocket Doltz, a compact electronic toothbrush, and the Compact Multi Straightener for on-the-go hair straightening. Panasonic also partnered with Shiseido, the Japanese cosmetic manufacturer, to develop an advanced mister device. The Ultrasonic Wave Handy Mist mists lotion on the face to hydrate without altering already applied make-up. Due to weather conditions causing dry skin in the summer and winter, misting devices like this one are becoming common accessories.

Non-electronic devices on the market focus on anti-aging benefits; one popular example is a small roller type device that can be placed on the skin to increase circulation. Many such products are made with Germanium, oxidized titanium, which is said to increase skin elasticity, restore collagen in the face, enhance skin metabolism, even out skin tone, and more.


New self-service salons make it easier and more affordable to maintain a professional level of beauty. Self-service salons allow customers to come in and use professional equipment for their own beauty services—essentially DIY beauty with the salon experience, but without the professional doing the work. One example in Tokyo is Yu Nail Salon, where customers wanting gel nails can access equipment needed to do that type of service on their own. There are assistants on hand to help guide customers on how to use the tools to achieve the best results.

Self-service salons may have evolved from the “rentable dressing room” concept that was introduced in 2008 by COS-Pa. With locations around Tokyo, COS-Pa offers ladies-only dressing room facilities that one can rent for 30-minute increments and have access to a sink and personal care and hair-grooming products.


As opposed to beautifying oneself through external means, there is also a market for “beauty from within.” Ready-to-drink beauty beverages are a popular beauty method in Japan. Products are widely available, making Japan the largest international market for RTD beauty.
What is meant by “beauty from within?” Beauty beverages are simply functional drinks made with ingredients that are said to enhance beauty. Collagen is the latest ingredient showing up in these beverages. When ingested, collagen is said to have anti-aging properties that plump the skin, similar to the roller device mentioned earlier. Shiseido is one of the major brands offering a collagen beauty drink today.

Functional beverages are widely available globally. However, beauty beverages have been slow to gain popularity in Europe and the U.S. Danone produced a beauty yogurt called Essensis, and Nestlé produced a beverage called Glowelle, both of which have been pulled from the market. While the price point was quite high, there is still speculation as to why “beauty from within” products have not yet been adopted by these markets.


Taking Japan’s lead, Mobile Beauty, Self-Service Beauty, and Beauty Beverages could just be the next new beauty trend in your market. Mobile Beauty speaks to consumers’ increasingly mobile lives, being always on the go. There’s an opportunity to provide solutions that help people feel coiffed and manicured at all times. Self-service aligns with the ongoing DIY trend and blends the developing co-sharing movement, resulting in new customer interactions and service opportunities. The beauty beverage market in Japan perhaps gives hope that such products could still take hold in other markets. While Danone and Nestlé have proven there will be a learning curve, beauty beverages could represent a large opportunity outside of Japan. In some countries, regulations will be the barrier. In others that will accept such beauty claims, consumers just might be open to less intrusive ways to be a bit more beautiful.
About the Author
Katie Kuhn is a Strategist in the San Francisco office of Anthem Worldwide, the brand development division of Schawk, Inc.
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