“Hyakuen” or one dollar stores, supermarkets and drugstore chains across the country are stocking up on these color cosmetic ranges to capture the attention of teenagers and professional young women.
According to Asia beauty trend expert Florence Bernardin, CEO of Franco-Asian consultancy firm Information et Inspiration, the trend stems from recent efforts by the Japanese government to encourage local industries to promote their manufacturing capabilities in an effort not to fully rely on the trade success of Tokyo.
“This is a time for Japan to promote its heritage, culture and heart by using local ingredients and traditional know-how,” Bernardin told Happi.
Cheap Isn’t Bad
While cheap cosmetics are associated with poor quality in the West, this is not the case in Japan, according to Mitsue Konishi, senior innovation analyst at Canadean.
“Japanese consumers are very much used to decent quality products even if they’re cheaply priced. And, while higher-end options are on offer, a premium price point does not have a great influence on their trust level of products.”
In a recent survey, Canadean reported 42% of participants in Japan would not trust a personal care product more because of its premium price whereas just 21% of Korean participants felt the same way.
It’s this attitude, according to Konishi, that is persuading tourists to move away from stocking up on expensive beauty products and reach for the cheaper brands that are popular with Japanese consumers.
Chinese tourists in particular are using the overseas shopping app, Xiaohongshu, to discover the trendiest and most recommended Japanese brands and the best places to shop while on vacation in the country.
“There are so many high street cosmetics brands featuring different target audiences, package design aspects or lifestyles. As they are accessible from a price perspective, consumers can test and try many, like a treasure hunt,” adds Konishi.
A Shift in Behavior
According to the Asian Nikki Review, department store chains such as Takashimaya have already witnessed this change in purchasing habits, reporting high end product purchases have fallen 11%, a decline that came even as cosmetics tax-free sales doubled in 2016. In response to this shift in consumer demand, major Japanese cosmetics and personal care manufacturers have developed their own Puchi Pura Cosme brands in addition to their premium ranges.
Take Shiseido’s Majolica Jajolica and Integrate brands or Kanebo’s Kate and Cofret D’or ranges, for example. Indeed, online retailers like Muji and Daiso, who do not have personal care backgrounds, have recognized the opportunity of this sector and rolled out low priced cosmetics lines.
Kawaii Is Catching On
While Korea’s vibrant and high-tech beauty products are delighting consumers the world over, right now, Japan’s love of adorable, childlike or cartoon-inspired cosmetics, known as Kawaii, is fast gaining interest from Western consumers.
Take, for example, Toyko’s character beauty shops like Otona Joshi Biyori which translates as “a fine day for adult girls,” housing Pokémon games, Hello Kitty, Bonobono and Sailor Moon themed lip balms and skin brightening powders.
In fact, Sailor Moon-related beauty has captured the attention of Westerners, as a remake of the TV series has been dubbed into dozens of languages.
Michelle Yeomans is an award winning multimedia journalist. She has been reporting on cosmetics industry movements in EMEA, US and Asia for five years and has won an award for her coverage of the complexities of operating in the Middle East. Michelle’s passion lies in tracking the beauty culture and trends of the Asia Pacific region. Ever the AV enthusiast, she also relishes the opportunity to create engaging video and podcast content for the B2B industry.