Top Companies Report

5. Kao

August 11, 2011

Japan

www.kao.co.jp


Sales: $9.5 billion


Key Personnel:

Motoki Ozaki, representative director, president and chief executive officer; Takuo Goto, representative director, senior executive vice president, global production and engineering; Hiroshi Kanda, representative director, senior executive vice president.


Major Products:

Beauty Care—Sofina, Kanebo, Molton Brown, Bioré, Jergens, Asience, John Frieda, Goldwell; Fabric and Home Care—Attack, Haiter, Magiclean; Human Health Care—Pyoura and Clear Clean oral care, Bub bath additives.


New Products:

Liese hair color foam, New Beads Neo and Attack Neo ultra-concentrated laundry detergents, Humming Neo ultra-concentrated fabric softener, Attack Instant Clean Liquid Detergent (China), Bath Magiclean cleaner, Quickle Wiper.

 

Comments:

Kao is the largest Japanese player in the global household and personal care industry, and as such, it is the first company in The International Top 30 that had to deal with an anemic global recovery and the Great East Japan Earthquake that struck on March 11. The company said deflation, unemployment and other factors drove down consumer prices for household and personal care products as Japanese consumers remained cautious and yet, sales rose 1% due to an increase in volume. However, cosmetics sales fell, due to a consumer move toward low-priced products.


Specifically, beauty care sales declined 2.6% to about $6.2 billion. Sales of prestige cosmetics fell 4% to just under $3 billion, due to the aforementioned preference for lower priced products and the earthquake effects. To get consumers buying again, Kao introduced a multifunctional cream and a low-priced line of products to the Fréshel skin care brand. The company also made the decision to refocus efforts on megabrands such as Coffret D’Or makeup and Sofina skin care products and cosmetics, which have sales in excess of $100 million. And despite a slowdown in China, Kao reported strong sales of prestige cosmetics in Asia, specifically in Taiwan and Thailand. Premium skin care sales in Japan and the rest of Asia rose on the strength of Bioré. In the US, Kao launched a new version of Curél.


Hair care sales were flat in Japan, but sales rose in the rest of Asia due to the launch of Liese hair color foam in Asia. In North America, sales of Goldwell and KMS professional hair care brands rose, while in Europe, the launch of hair color foam contributed to John Frieda sales.


Sales within the fabric and home care unit rose less than 1% to $3.2 billion. Like everywhere else in the world, Kao’s detergent business suffered from increased price competition. To meet the demand for water and energy conservation, the company launched several ultra-concentrated detergent and fabric softeners. Home care sales were flat.

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