According to Euromonitor’s beauty and personal care research, this segment of the region’s skin care category registered a moderate growth of two percent over the past five years. In terms of market breakdown, analyst Sunny Um reports acne prevalence in Japan to be relatively high compared to some of the major European markets, while Thailand and Vietnam stand out with strong double-digit growth rates in this time period.
Traditionally, Asian acne treatments have consisted of time consuming “three step” kits featuring a cleanser, toner and treatment aimed at de-clogging pores and restoring pH balance, while calming or whitening has been at the helm of their marketing message—keeping in line with the long-time demand for lighter skin.
While formulas in this category have advanced and taken on a more “natural” approach with the introduction of anti-bacterial and detoxifying ingredients like lotus, aloe vera and tangerine, creative concepts have been somewhat limited in the last 20 years.
Roadblocks have included limited education and awareness around personalized treatments—what works for one may not work for another—while topical formulations have proved challenging to develop in terms of delivery of a drug to a target site.
Zapping The Competition
Western newcomers have notably been foraging their way through this noisy competitive market with concepts that speak to long overdue consumer needs—cutting down the time and effort it takes to treat this skin condition.
The move from multi-step regimes towards combination treatments in a single product is clear with an emphasis on drug delivery packaging that enhances formula efficacy.
US dermatologist Kate Somerville’s EradiKate To-Go Acne Treatment has had huge online success with Asian e-shoppers thanks to its ability to cater to the urbanite’s need for a quick solution to sudden skin breakouts during their daily life. The kit consists of 12 pre-prepared swabs formulated with 10% sulfur and AHAs to reduce the appearance of enlarged pores and help control sebum production. By snapping the top end of these dual-ended cotton swabs the acne medication is sent to the swab’s bottom end, ready to dab over any trouble areas on the face.
Fellow US innovator Wayne Beckley, founder of Merlot Skin Care, a grape seed-based line of face and body products, introduced a 3-in-1 acne treatment saving the Asian consumers time and money.
“It wasn’t unusual for one of the three products in those traditional kits to run out, leaving the other two and I felt there had to be a better way of handling the acne problem than the use of cumbersome kits,” Beckley informed Happi.
Less Time, Minimum Expense
Following two years of development, Beckley’s team successfully launched First Crush, a cleanser, toner and treatment all in one tube. Initially introduced to the Japanese market via distributor Avon Japan; the product features a formula comprised of a gentle salicylic acid to eliminate dead skin cells, ginseng extract, tea tree oil, orange peel and grape seed extract.
“The challenge was in getting the ingredients to work synergistically so that the cleanser would eliminate excess dirt and oil; the toner firm up the skin and the treatment get to work on dead cells and blemish causing bacteria,” he said.
According to Beckley, Avon Japan’s help with marketing on social media and through TV infomercials has been invaluable in terms of visibility for First Crush, with 60% consumers accepting an auto-ship program for the product.
“The consumer signing/agreeing to be automatically shipped our product every 30, 45,60 or 90 days has led to demand for an Acne Body Wash which we’ve developed and are set to launch in Japan in mid-April. We’re also more confident about now expanding into Korea, Taiwan and China’s skin care markets,” Beckley revealed.
If that wasn’t enough, the ambitious entrepreneur is also developing a line of beauty products aimed at the spa market featuring red wine and highlighting the benefits of resveratrol.
These are just a few of exciting, innovative products recently introduced into this segment. There are, we’re sure, more to come.
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.