Top Companies Report

9. Lion

August 6, 2012

Japan
www.lion.co.jp

Sales: $3.6 billion

Key Personnel: Masazumi Kikukawa, director, executive officer and executive general manager of health and home care products.

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

New Products: Top Hygia detergent, Look Mame-Pika toilet cleaner, Clinica Enamel Pearl toothpaste, Clinica Flat Cut and Clinica 3D Cut toothbrushes.

Comments: Sales of consumer products fell less than 1% last year, as Lion’s consumer product business felt the effects of the Great East Japan Earthquake. Specifically, oral care and laundry detergent sales slipped due to the difficulty in procuring raw materials following the natural disaster.

Still, Lion maintains it is the No. 1 player in Japan in three categories (toothpaste, toothbrushes and liquid hand soap) and the No. 3 player in laundry detergent, fabric softener and dishwashing detergents. Now, Lion is implementing its V-1 Plan, which is focused on achieving qualitative growth in domestic businesses and developing new business value. That means launching new high-value-added products in growth categories such as oral care and liquid laundry detergent and increasing advertising.

Following the earthquake, Lion worked to launch and nurture brands that offer the benefits of “health, comfort and environmental-friendliness.” For example, in oral care, sales of Dentor Systema toothbrushes and Dent Health and Hitect value-added toothbrushes rose, while in beauty care, a reformulated Ban antiperspirant proved popular.

Within fabric care, Kaori to Deodorant No Soflan Aroma Rich fabric softener rose. During the year, Lion introduced an enhanced version of its super-concentrated liquid detergent Top Nanox, which soon became the best-selling brand in the category. Last month, Lion introduced Top Hygia, a super-concentrated liquid laundry detergent that is said to prevent the growth of bacteria and odors on clothing by enhancing its antibacterial properties.

The company noted that sales of premium toothpaste are rising as Japanese consumers age and recognize the importance of oral care. Specifically, sales of the Dentor Systema brand series, which contributes to the prevention of periodontal disease, are continuing to expand rapidly and have recorded annual average growth of 16% since they were launched in 1997, according to the company.

Within beauty care, demand for antiperspirants and deodorants rose, reflecting electric power conservation measures and the hot weather during the summer. Similarly, due to the effects of the norovirus epidemic, incidents of food poisoning and other factors, demand rose for hand soaps and disinfectants. Sales of shampoo rose slightly, but sales of hair treatments and men’s hair preparations declined. Within the beauty care business, Lion is focusing especially on hand soaps and antiperspirants and deodorants.

Household cleaner sales rose due to growing demand for toilet cleaners, a market marked by several new product launches. Lion expanded its lineup of dishwashing detergent products too, with the introduction of improved Charmy Crysta automatic dishwasher detergents were favorable. Meanwhile, sales of toilet cleaners received a big boost with the launch of Look Mame-Pika Toilet Cleaner, which Lion says makes it easy to clean with a “quick wipe” of toilet paper.

Sales of industrial and institutional cleaners were flat, due to a decline in production as a result of the Earthquake, flooding in Thailand and a stagnation in exports caused by the appreciation of the yen.
This year, Lion reorganized its health care and household businesses into one Health and Home Care business, to combine all the strengths in these businesses.


 
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