Can a luxury line of grooming products inspired by a small village in Japan sell on Main Street, USA? Asim Akhtar believes it can—and is bringing Kyoku for Men to the U.S. market in the New Year.
Akhtar’s inspiration for Kyoku for Men came after discovering the small village of Yuzurihara, located outside Tokyo. Known as the “village of long life,” 10% of Yuzihara’s population is more than 80 years old and the health and impeccable skin of the villagers has fascinated researchers for decades. According to Akhtar’s research, Yuzurihara male skin had nearly five times the amount of hyaluronic acid than the average man, despite the fact that aging usually slows its synthesis.
“I concluded that the high levels of hyaluronic acid in the villagers of Yuzurijara was a result of both their diet and natural skin care regimes—they consumed high levels of starchy root vegetables, and these locally grown starches helped stimulate the body’s natural creation of hyaluronic acid, thus the skin cells thrive and retain moisture, keeping skin smooth and supple. I therefore took this knowledge and sourced the same properties in alternative natural ingredients. For example, our facial moisturizer contains bamboo extract which stimulates hyaluronic acid synthesis which results in increased collagen production and elastin synthesis,” he told Happi.com
Kyoku for Men has already made in roads in the UK, where it was stocked by Harrods and Harvey Nichols as well as The Refinery, a chain of men’s grooming salons.
According to Akhtar, Kyoku’s top selling SKUs in the UK include the daily facial cleanser, exfoliating facial scrub and facial moisturizer.
Kyoku for Men Pore Reducing Serum features Japanese licorice extract, which works to greatly reduce pore size, and Eijitsu rose, which works to absorb excess oil and increase water levels resulting in increased elasticity at the epidermal surface.
Akhtar is expanding the line early next year with several new products that also tap into unique ingredients, such as Sake Infused Shave Cream, Lava Masque and Pore Reducing Serum formulated with licorice root and eijitsu rose. The new products will be available in February.
But with the U.S. economy lackluster at best, the odds seem stacked against a luxury men’s grooming line making in today’s marketplace. However, Akhtar believes Kyoku for Men will succeed because it has the ability to transform vanity “into a masculine ideal, something to be proud of. This philosophy is built into every element of our brand—from carefully selected ingredients, to slick packaging, to inherently masculine product names—every element must resonate the ultimate in masculinity in order to result in consumer selection,” he said.
According to Akhtar, education is key to retaining savvy customers who have been affected by the economic downturn.
“Customers want exclusivity, point of difference, efficacy and value for money, so the key to brand success is to be mindful of these elements. Men’s grooming is increasing exponentially, however it is still a small segment of the beauty industry. Many well-known brands however, are tapping into the fact that men are now becoming more aware of their dermal needs and so are focusing on this for 2010. I look forward to men’s grooming market thriving at the end of the global recession.”