Top Companies Report

9. Lion

August 11, 2011

Japan

www.lion.co.jp


Sales: $2.9 billion


Key Personnel:

Sadayoshi Fujishige, chairman and chief executive officer; Kazuo Obayashi, senior executive director; Keikichi Sugiyama, executive director, research and development; Itsuo Hama, executive director, health care and household products divisions, gift and channel-specific products division, advertising, behavioral science research, distribution and customer development.


Major Products:

Oral care, skin care, beauty products, toiletries, fabric care, home care and household cleaners.


New Products:

Oral Care—Clinica Toothpaste for Kids, Dentor Systema Lion and Dentor Systema EX Lion, Hitect Shoyaku no Megumi toothpaste, Dentor Systema, Clinica Kid’s Dental Rinse, Dentor Systema EX Dental Rinse; Beauty Care—Pro Tec Mud Spa two-in-one shampoo; Ban deodorant powder spray, Refresh shower sheets and High-Density medicated deodorant series.


Comments:

New product launches and an emphasis on megabrands are driving growth at Lion. The company maintains that new products now account for 53% of domestic sales, up from 21% in 2008. Moreover brands with sales in excess of 10 billion yen, now account for 60% of sales, up from 34% in 2005.


Last year, sales of fabric care and household cleaning products rose 3.4% to 165.6 billion yen on favorable sales of liquid laundry detergents and fabric softeners.


Sales of oral care and beauty products totaled90 billion yen, as Lion takes advantage of the dynamic growth drivers of the high-priced toothpaste and mouthwash markets.


Outside Japan, in markets such as China, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong, Lion aims to be the No. 1 brand in laundry and oral care products. Since 2007, Lion’s international laundry detergent and oral care sales have grown 40%.


In terms of product formulation, the company continues to expand its use of methyl ester sulfonate through its production plant in Malaysia. In other moves, the company says that its proactive approach to the environment is based a three-prong approach:

• Switch to plant-based ingredients;

• Develop products based on eco-standards; and

• Protect water environments.


Today, Lion relies on two plant-based surfactants. MES, based on palm, reduced CO2 emissions by 51%, while the use of MEE, based on coconut, reduced CO2 emissions by 74%, according to the company.


This year, like so many other laundry detergent producers in Japan, Lion faces rising raw material prices and declining unit price sales, which are expected to limit domestic sales growth to 1.8%. Outside its domestic market, however, the company expects sales to grow 6.9%, driven by results in China.

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