Company Headquarters

Driving Directions

Brand Description

Ever since the company’s founding in 1887, Kao has strived to deliver value to the life of people everywhere in the world. Today, we are a leading manufacturer in the fields of hygiene, beauty and health, while our chemical business contributes to the development of diverse industries. With more than 33,000 employees, our mission is to enrich the lives of people globally and contribute to the sustainability of the world.

In the regions of Americas, Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), we focus on our Beauty Care business with premium brands in three business sectors: Consumer, Salon and Cosmetics.

Our Business Sector represents skin and hair care brands that are recognized worldwide for their innovation and quality, such as Jergens, Curél, Bioré, Guhl, and John Frieda.

Our Salon Business Sector is committed to unleashing the creativity of stylists around the globe. With our industry leading brands Goldwell, KMS and Oribe, stylists have everything in their hands to create beautiful show-stopping hair representative of the individuality of their clients.

Our London-based boutique brand, Molton Brown, offers luxury beauty products found only in our exclusive Molton Brown stores, high-end department stores and travel retail, as well as five-star hotels around the world.

All three business sectors are driven by the same values and beliefs: Creating high-quality products and constantly striving for the best is what is at the heart of everything we do.

This is why we understand that our people are one of our core assets, and we strive for a working environment that allows team members to flourish and grow. Join us, and you will have opportunity to help us make life beautiful.



Key Personnel

  • Michitaka Sawada
  • Toshiaki Takeuchi
    Senior Managing Executive Officer
  • Tomoharu Matsuda
    Senior Managing Executive Officer

Yearly results

Sales: 7.7 Billion

Sales: $7.7 billion

Key Personnel: Michitaka Sawada, chairman; Yoshihiro Hasebe, president and chief executive officer; Masakazu Negoro, senior managing executive officer, finance; Toru Nishiguchi, senior managing executive officer, global consumer products and Kao professional services; David J. Muenz, managing executive officer, senior vice president, ESG global; Osamu Tabata, managing executive officer, senior vice president, supply chain management global; Yoshihiro Murakami, managing executive officer, senior vice president, DX strategy; Hideaki Kubo, managing executive officer, senior vice president, research and development, managing executive officer, senior vice president, corporate strategy; Hiroaki Yamaguchi, senior executive officer, vice president, supply chain management; Kotaro Nuriya, senior executive officer, president, consumer products, health & beauty care business; Natsumi Hotta, senior executive officer, president, consumer products, hygiene & living care business; Hideki Mamiya, senior executive officer, senior vice president, human capital strategy; Yosuke Maezawa, senior executive officer, president, consumer products, cosmetics business, global

Major Products: Beauty Care—Sofina, Kanebo, Molton Brown, Bioré, Curel, Jergens, Asience, John Frieda, Goldwell, My Kirei by Kao, Wakati, KMS; Fabric and Home Care—Attack, Haiter, Magiclean; Human Health Care—Ban, Pyoura and Clear Clean oral care, Bub bath additives

New Products: Beauty Care—Nivea Cream Care Body Wash W (Double) Water Retention Skin, Spot Jelly, Kanebo Comfort Skin Wear, Space Kibun Space Shampoo Sheet, PureOra36500 oral care, Bioré The Cleanse Oil makeup remover, Curel Moisturizing UV lotion/UV essence; Home Care—Attack Zero Refill, Bath Magiclean Air Jet Sterilization EX, Humming Deodorant Jikkan, Quickle Magnet Wiper, Resesh Sanitization Ex Wide Jet deodorant spray

Comments: Corporate sales rose 9% last year. The hygiene and living care division, which includes fabric and hard surface cleaners, posted a 4% increase in sales, primarily due to forex changes. Fabric care sales rose in Japan, but fell in the rest of Asia. Home care sales were flat.

Health and beauty care sales, which includes skin and hair care, rose 4.2%, but again, much of the gain came from favorable exchange rates. A heat wave in Japan propelled seasonal sales of sun care and related products. In Thailand, there was demand for Bioré Guard Mos Block Serum, a repellent lotion.

Life care sales increased 5.1% due to rising demand for kitchen cleaning agents and guest room amenities in the I&I sector.

Sales of cosmetics rose 5.1%, helped by gains from Sensai and Molton Brown.

Q1 2023 corporate sales rose less than 1%. Consumer product sales were as expected, but chemical sales didn’t live up to projections due to a slower-than-expected recovery. Consumer product sales were up, but the market in China remained weak and sales in Japan declined. In contrast, sales in the Americas jumped more than 28% and sales in Europe increased 13.4%.

In May, Kao and Lion expanded its collaboration on horizontal recycling of used refill packs for laundry care formulas. Kao launched Attack Zero Refill, a concentrated liquid laundry detergent. Lion (ranked No. 15 in Happi’s International Top 30) launched Top Super Nanox Odor-Exclusive Extra Large Refill. The launches expand on a September 2020 collaboration to reduce packaging waste.

Kao was front and center at the CESIO World Surfactant Congress in June. Company representatives detailed the benefits of formulating with Bio IOS, a bio-based surfactant with a carbon chain of C16-C18. Ester quat alternatives based on supramolecular structures were also highlighted.

Sensei is one of Kao’s super premium prestige brands.

Sales: 7.7 Billion

Sales: $7.7 billion

Corporate sales declined less than 1%. Within the consumer products business, only sales in Japan declined, falling 5.3%. Elsewhere, sales in Asia increased 7.2%; sales in the Americas rose 15.1%; and sales in Europe increased 14.5%.

Kao’s range includes Kanebo.

By segment, fabric and home care sales fell 1.3% due, in part, to lower demand for household cleaners in Japan. Last year, Kao launched Bath Magiclean Airjet, which is said to make bathtub cleaning easier. In Asia, Kao launched Magiclean disinfectant. The company said demand for fabric care products rose, thanks to consumer awareness of cleanliness due to the pandemic and the successful launch of an improved Attack detergent.

Health and beauty care sales fell 2.2%. According to Kao, sales of skin care products decreased in Japan due to lower demand for hand soap and hand sanitizer. Sales of sun care and other seasonal products were lower as consumers stayed indoors due to inclement weather in Japan and Asia. Sales in the Americas fell, too. Mass market hair care sales declined, but Kao reported a big gain in professional channels.  In the Americas, the Oribe brand for high-end hair salons performed strongly in the eCommerce channel. In Europe, the market gradually recovered. Sales of bath additives and other personal health products were flat, as consumers stayed home over pandemic fears. Sales of hand sanitizers and other cleansers rose 1.7%.

Earlier this year, Kao made a novel move in sustainability by recycling its makeup with Mangata Co., Ltd., a paint maker. Under terms of the deal, Kao supplies Mangata with cosmetics that could not become final products and those that did not meet quality standards in laboratories.

For Q1, 2022, corporate sales jumped 8.2%. Cosmetics sales rose more than 10%. In China, sales rose on the strength of Freeplus and Curél. Elsewhere, sales of Sensai and Molton Brown grew substantially in Europe.

Fabric and home care sales rose 1.5%. Fabric care sales were up due to demand for laundry detergent. However, household cleaner sales dipped as covid concerns faded. The one exception was CuCute dishwashing detergent. With an improved formula, the product significantly increased its market share in Japan.

Health and beauty care sales fell 1.4% due, in part, to a decline in skin care sales. In Japan, sales of hand soap and other hygiene-related products grew, but sales of UV care and other seasonal products were impacted by the resurgence of the covid-19 pandemic. In the US, logistical headaches caused a decline in sales. Sales of hair care products fell.

In Japan, the severely competitive environment continued. Sales of Oribe, a brand for high-end hair salons in the US, performed strongly mainly driven by e-commerce sales. However, sales of Goldwell, another professional hair care brand, were affected by inventory adjustment by an agency, according to Kao.

In Europe, sales remained steady due to normalization of economic activities. In addition, price increases outside Japan began to show results.

Sales: 9.5 Billion

Sales: $9.5 billion
Corporate sales: $12.9 billion

Serene Scalp Soothing Leave On Treatment is new from Oribe and gently exfoliates and removes loose flakes while cooling peppermint and calming chamomile  balance the scalp.

Corporate sales fell nearly 8% last year and consumer product sales fell 8.4%. By region, sales in Asia fell 2.9%. In the Americas, sales declined 5.9% and in Europe, sales fell 9.3%.

As one might suspect, store closures, travel restrictions and mask mandates led to a sharp, 22.4%, decline in cosmetics sales. One bright region? China, where demand was steady for Freeplus, a hypoallergenic skin care line, and Curél, a derma care brand. Skin care and hair care sales fell 9.3% but Kao noted that demand for Bioré U hand soap, hand sanitizer and other hygiene products rose. Hair care product sales fell; sales of at-home hair coloring products grew in Japan, but salon closures in Europe and the Americas outweighed those gains.

Fabric and home care sales increased 4.1% as Kao launched new versions of Attack and other detergents. Home care sales increased substantially as demand for hygiene-related products increased.

On January 1, Yoshihiro Hasebe became president and chief executive officer. He replaced Michitaka Sawada who became chair of Kao. Prior to this appointment, Hasebe was senior managing executive officer.

For Q1 2021, sales fell 5.1%. Kao blamed the decline on tougher comps. A year ago, consumers were eager to purchase hygiene-related products. During the quarter, Kao reconfigured its business segments. The new Hygiene and Living Care business ncorporates sanitary products from the former Human Health Care business in addition to fabric care products and home care products, which were previously classified in the Fabric and Home Care business. The new Health and Beauty Care business incorporates personal health products, which were previously classified in the Human Health Care business, in addition to skin care products and hair care products, which were previously classified in the skin care and hair care business. Finally, the new Life Care business incorporates health drinks, which were previously classified in the Human Health Care Business, in addition to commercial-use hygiene products, which were previously classified in the Fabric and Home Care business. By segment, Cosmetics sales fell 13.7%. Hygiene and living care sales fell 6.1%, and health and beauty care sales fell 6.0%. Life Care was the lone bright spot, sales rose 3%.

In April, Kao launched an online store in Europe for Sensai, its super prestige brand. The Sensai online platform is available in the UK, Germany, France, Switzerland and Italy. Kao plans to expand into China.

“Sensai creates conditions that encourage customers to appreciate the luxuries available in life, and to live both sensitively and scrupulously. As we move into e-commerce, Sensai customers can enjoy our in-store style of services, with the same emphasis on personal relationships, in a virtual setting,” explained Souichi Yamaguchi, VP-Sensai.

Sales: 10.2 Billion

Sales: $10.2 billion for household and personal care products.
Corporate sales: $13.7 billion

Corporate sales dipped less than 1% last year, but the decline was primarily due to an 8.6% slip within Kao’s chemical business. In contrast, cosmetics sales jumped nearly 8%, while fabric and home care sales rose 1%. Skin and hair care sales fell less than 1% and human health care sales declined more than 4%.

In Q1 2020, sales fell 2.6%, but segment sales were vastly different. Cosmetics declined 59.2%, and skin and hair care fell 8.1%. In contrast, human health care sales rose 1.5% and fabric and home care sales jumped 10%.

Kao is betting big on the US introduction of MyKirei by Kao, a comprehensive collection of products founded on the credence that caring for oneself, society and the world makes life more beautiful. In Japan, according to Kao, this belief is a way of life, where simplicity is beauty, cleanliness is honored, order and harmony bring delight and respecting others and the world is innate.

“In Japan, Kirei has many meanings. It can describe beauty and cleanliness, as well as simplicity, balance and sustainability,” explains Karen Frank, president, Kao USA. “The Kirei sensibility has always been unique to and treasured by the Japanese people. With MyKirei, we are bringing this wisdom to the Western consumer with innovation for a gentler, more sustainable way of living.”

With global challenges like climate change, aging societies, resource scarcity, and plastic waste in the ocean in mind, MyKirei’s innovations include vegan-friendly, plant-based formulas that are 95% biodegradable and packaged in innovative, eco-friendly delivery systems. Most importantly, the packaging uses up to 50% less plastic than conventional packages. The bottles gain their rigidity through an air fill, allowing them to stand upright, like a traditional bottle. The water tight design that prevents contamination also allows users to use nearly all of the product; according to Kao, competitors leave up to thee times more product in more traditional packaging. To ensure that no waste is left behind, Kao has partnered with TerraCycle to create a program to allow consumers to recycle the package and the pumps post-use.

In an update on its COVID-19 efforts, CEO Michitaka Sawada noted that in January, Kao began producing more sanitizer and gave priority to health care workers, nursing homes and other organizations that desperately needed these formulas. As the infection spread, Kao developed new systems to produce more sanitizer and by April new lines were up and running. Kao’s Darmstadt site in Germany, its largest in Europe, is producing hand sanitizer, but the company is helping in other ways, too. In response to the shortage of hand sanitizers, pharmacies in Germany began producing sanitizer, but there was a shortage of containers that were suitable for this purpose.

To overcome this issue, Kao worked in cooperation with the Hessian Pharmacists’ Association to donate bottles from John Frieda to pharmacies in Darmstadt. The pharmacies filled these bottles with sanitizer, allowing them to sell the product to customers. In other moves, Kao is offering hygiene-related products and monetary donations to help a wide range of organizations in Japan, Asia, the Americas and EMEA. In Indonesia, for example, Kao presented the National Disaster Management Agency, the country’s frontline taskforce for COVID-19, with funding along with Bioré body foam and Attack laundry detergent products.

In the United Kingdom, it donated soaps and hand lotions, and other products from Molton Brown, John Frieda, and Bioré to the charities Beauty Bank and Hygiene Bank, as well as to Britain’s National Health Service (NHS).

Despite the issues surrounding the pandemic, for the year, Kao expects sales to rise from 0.5-1.8%, with net income rising 3.9-8.6%.


Sales: 11.1 Billion

Sales: $11.1 billion for personal care, home care and cosmetics.
Corporate sales: $14 billion.

Corporate sales rose 1.2% last year, but certain segments performed much better than that. For example, cosmetic sales rose 5% to $2.6 billion, skin and hair care sales increased 2.6% to $3.1 billion, and fabric and home care sales improved 2.5% to $3.2 billion. The drag on results was human health care, where sales fell 4.8% to about $2.5 billion. Overall, consumer product sales increased 1.4%  to $11.1 billion.

Within the cosmetics business, Sofina iP base essence was improved in September 2018, and sales grew steadily as it gained acceptance among an increasing number of consumers. Sales increased substantially in Asia region, led by China.

In skin care, sales of the Bioré brand grew steadily in Japan and Asia, but were impacted by stiff competition in the Americas. Jergens hand and body lotions performed steadily in the Americas. In hair care, Kao launched Rerise, which is billed as a next-generation brand for gray hair care, and its performance was strong but sales of shampoos and conditioners decreased due to a delayed response to the growing premium market and the impact of the shrinking mass market. In Europe, the John Frieda hair care brand was affected by intense market competition, according to Kao.
In January 2018, Kao acquired Oribe, a premium hair care company.

Sales of fabric care products remained steady despite price wars in Japan. The segment was helped by an Attack laundry detergent claim that the formula is “changing tap water for washing to antibacterial water.” Kao increased the market share of fabric softeners by improving Flair Fragrance amid the ongoing expansion of the market for high-value-added products. A year ago, Kao acquired US-based Washing Systems, LLC. Sales of home care products were firm. In Japan, the Kao Group cultivated new users by improving foam spray-type CuCute dishwashing detergent, and sales grew steadily. While sales fell in the human health care segment, there were some bright spots; oral care and bath additive sales rose.

In an interview with Happi last year, CEO Michitaka Sawada explained “In the past 10 years, our Asian business has quadrupled, while sales have been flat in Europe and the US,” adding that China and Indonesia are Kao’s largest markets outside Japan. “Going forward, I want to focus on the US and Europe.”

And yet, in the beginning of 2019, Kao’s business remained rooted in Japan as net sales to foreign customers declined to 39.9% from 41.8% the previous year.

For Q1, 2019, corporate sales declined 1.1%, but the drop was due to a 12% decline in Kao’s human health care business. All other categories posted increases: cosmetics’ sales rose 11.2%; skin and hair care sales rose 1.6%; and fabric and home care sales were up 6.5%

In April, Kao introduced its Kirei Lifestyle Plan, a new global environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy to support consumer lifestyle changes. According to the company, in the face of global challenges such as climate change, aging societies, resource scarcity and the management of materials such as plastics, consumers around the world have expressed growing desire for a gentler and more sustainable way of living, which Kao has named the Kirei Lifestyle. The Japanese word “kirei” describes something that is clean, well-ordered and beautiful, all at the same time. For Kao, this concept not only describes appearance, but also attitude—to seek to create beauty for oneself, and also for other people and for the natural world around us.

To deliver this vision of a Kirei Lifestyle for all, Kao has set three bold commitments supported by 19 detailed leadership actions for the business to deliver by 2030:

  • “Make my everyday more beautiful” by empowering at least 1 billion people by 2030 to enjoy more beautiful lives—greater cleanliness, easier aging, better health and confidence in self expression;
  • “Make thoughtful choices for society” by ensuring that 100% of Kao brands make it easy for people to make small but meaningful choices that, together, will shape a more resilient and compassionate society; and
  • “Make the world healthier and cleaner” by promising that 100% of Kao products will leave a full life cycle environmental footprint that science says our natural world can safely absorb.

“Our approach to developing the Kirei Lifestyle Plan was to think about how we can service the needs and desires of consumers to live more sustainable lifestyles and contribute to a more sustainable world, as envisioned by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,” explained Dave Muenz, executive officer in charge of Kao’s ESG division. “The Kirei Lifestyle Plan outlines how Kao will strive to realize the Kirei Lifestyle for all—living a beautiful life inside and out.”

For the full year, Kao expects sales to rise 4.8%, led by an 8% increase within the fabric and home care business.

Sales: 9.5 Billion

Sales: $9.5 billion (estimated) for personal, household and oral care products.
Corporate sales: $12.7 billion.

 Kao, Shiseido and other Japanese cosmetics companies are set to benefit from J-beauty, the newest craze to hit the global cosmetics market. Unlike K-beauty, the Japanese cosmetics routine is more sophisticated with fewer steps, explain industry executives. If J-beauty reaches the popularity levels of its Korean predecessor, that will be great news for Kao and fellow Japanese beauty companies.

Although Kao’s consumer product sales slipped 2.1%, on a like-for-like basis, sales increased 2.6%. In Asia, consumer product sales surged 7.1%, with big gains in China and Indonesia. In the Americas, sales increased 5.5%, but European sales slipped 1.5%.

Beauty care sales fell 2.6, due in part to declines in mid-priced skin care lines in Japan. Cosmetics sales decreased 4.8%. Outside Japan, the Kao Group substantially expanded sales, with a strong performance in Asia, mainly in China. However, sales in Japan fell slightly short of the previous fiscal year on a like-for-like basis. In addition to a decline in inbound sales, which grew significantly in 2016, mid-price skin care brands faced an uphill battle. On the other hand, major reforms of the cosmetics business are progressing steadily, and Sofina iP base essence, which also started a rollout in Asia, performed well.

The global brand Kanebo started a rollout in Europe, in addition to Japan and Asia. Sales of Suqqu, a prestige brand available in the department store channel, and Est the lotion, which was launched in fall 2017, grew strongly. Skin and hair care product sales fell 1.0%. Sales of Bioré grew steadily, with good performance in Japan, Asia and the Americas, and a rollout in Europe. Sales of Curél derma care products grew strongly in Japan and Asia, due in part to the launch of new products for the aging care market and progress in building a lineup in the cosmetics category. On the other hand, sales of hair care products decreased in Japan due to the impact of the shrinking mass market. In Europe, sales of the John Frieda hair care brand decreased, but sales of professional hair care products were nearly flat.

Too late to impact last year’s results, but in December Kao acquired Oribe Hair Care LLC, a professional brand. Kao’s human health care business is composed primarily of food and beverage, and sanitary products, but the company lumps oral care and, inscrutably, eye masks in the mix. Several new products provided a lift to oral care products and something called MegaRhythm Steam Eye Mask attracted new users.

Fabric and home care sales fell 2.7%. Sales of laundry detergents were nearly flat in a severe market environment, despite the launch of improved Attack Neo Antibacterial EX W Power amid rising consumer awareness of bacteria. Sales of fabric softeners were steady. Growth in sales of home care products was firm due to consumer acceptance of high-value-added products. Sales of CuCute dishwashing detergent grew with the market penetration of a spray foam-type product. In Asia, although price competition in laundry detergents was severe in Thailand and Indonesia, sales were nearly on par with the previous fiscal year.

First quarter 2018 sales are off to a good start, as net sales rose 1.6%. Kao credits solid e-commerce sales and demand for cosmetics from visitors to Japan.

Looking long-term, Kao’s 2030 plan is for sales to reach ¥2.5 trillion, with ¥1.0 trillion coming from outside Japan. Last year, total sales were about ¥1.5 trillion.


Sales: 11.2 Billion

Sales: $11.2 billion

Kao says a strong commitment by all members of the Kao Group to provide products and brands of excellent value for consumer satisfaction or “Yoki-Monozukuri” still drives the company 130 years after its founding.

Despite rising sales and income, Kao remains under pressure. Its top cosmetics brands, Sofina and Kanebo, both face stiff competition from multinationals. To boost innovation, last year Kao combined its fundamental technology research and product development research for cosmetics at the Odawara Complex.

Last year, Kao reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 14% and water consumption by 17% on a per unit of sales basis.

This year marks the start of K20, Kao’s mid-term plan for 2017-2020. The plan is built on three platforms—foster a distinctive corporate image; maintain profitable growth; and provide returns to all stakeholders. Specifically, K20 is intended to propel Kao net sales of ¥2.5 trillion by 2030, with one trillion coming from outside Japan. To reach those levels, company executives are determined to make Kao a company with a global presence, aim for like-for-like net sales CAGR of 5% and operating margin of 15%, and build three ¥100 billion brands (Merries baby diapers, Attack laundry detergent and Bioré skin care products to be specific). Company executives note that Kao reached or exceeded the goals of its previous plan (K15), which were based on net sales, operating income and sales outside Japan.

In 2016, beauty care accounted for 41.3% of corporate sales, with fabric and home care the No. 2 group, with 23.7% of sales. Beauty care sales were mostly flat due to weakness in Japan, and a slowdown in China. But demand in Taiwan and Indonesia was up and sales of skin care products and upscale Molton Brown grooming products were said to be solid in the Americas and Europe. Meanwhile, home care sales were up 2.9%, as Kao pivoted toward hygiene that it says “represents the boundary between health and cleanliness.”

For the first quarter of 2017, consumer product sales rose a scant 0.1%, as beauty care sales declined 4% and home care sales dropped 2%. In contrast, human health care sales, which includes toothpaste and other personal hygiene items, rose 10.7%.


Sales: 10 Billion

Sales: $10.0 billion

The Japanese economy continues to struggle, so homegrown multinationals such as Kao are looking elsewhere for growth. The company said consumer product sales increased nearly 6% last year. By category, beauty care accounted for 41% of sales, followed by fabric and home care (23%) and human health care (19%). Kao’s other business is devoted to specialty chemicals.

CEO Michitaka Sawada said the company achieved all targets of its K15 strategy, with record net sales and profits. International markets accounted for 35% of sales—the target had been 30%. But not every issue was solved last year. According to Sawada, Kao is determined to improve the profitability of its cosmetics business and rebuild its beverage unit, which includes nutraceuticals such as Healthya functional drinks.

Last year, beauty care sales rose 3%, helped along by gains for Bioré UV skin care products and Curél for sensitive skin. Bioré results were good outside the home market, too. Hair care sales were up slightly, getting a boost from product launches in Japan. At the same time, the cosmetics business in Asia, including Kanebo Cosmetics and Kao Sofina, returned to profitability.

Fabric and home care sales increased 3.1%. Although sales in Japan were unchanged, Kao said demand for CuCute dishwashing detergent and Quickle household cleaning sheets was strong. Elsewhere, a growing middle class helped along category results, laundry product sales were strong in Indonesia.

Sales jumped nearly 17% in the human health care segment, which includes products such as toothpaste and personal cleansers. The company said strong demand for all things masks helped boost sales of MegRythm Steam Eye Masks.

By region, sales in Japan increased 2.6%; sales in Asia rose nearly 28%, sales in the Americas improved 12.4% and sales in Europe increased 6.7%.

For Q1 2016, corporate sales rose 1.7%. For the full year, the company expects corporate sales to increase 2.4%, which, if achieved, would represent the seventh consecutive year of gains for sales and profits. To get there, Kao executives say they are determined to reform the cosmetics business. This year, the focus is on Kanebo, and in 2017, Kao will shore up Sofina. Despite its efforts, Kao still expects overall beauty care sales to decline ever so slightly (-0.1%) in 2016, compared to a 1.4% gain in fabric and home care and an 8.7% increase in human health sales.


Sales: 7.6 Billion

Sales: $7.6 billion

Driven by gains in chemicals and feminine hygiene, corporate sales rose 6.6% last year, ahead of gains for beauty care (3.4%) and fabric and home care (4.3%).

Taking a closer look at the beauty segment, sales of cosmetics rose 1.4% to $2.1 billion. Sales in Japan were flat, but brands such as Sofina Primavista, Alblanc and new Dew Beauté anti-aging products provided a lift. Outside its home market, sales got a lift from Molton Brown in the UK.

Skin care sales rose in 2014. In Japan, sales increased due to strong performances by Bioré facial cleanser, Bioré U body cleanser and Curél derma care products. A strong performance by Bioré lifted sales in Asia, while in the Americas the launch of improved Jergens products was well-received, according to the company.

Hair care product sales were flat, but sales in Japan rose due to strong demand for shampoos, conditioners and styling products. However, an ultra-competitive retail environment hurt sales in the Americas and Europe. In Asia, sales declined as Kao trimmed its product offerings.

Within fabric and home care, detergent sales rose on the strength of Neo promotional activities and Kao drove home the environmental appeal of conserving water, electricity and resources. Mid-year, Kao rolled out Attack Neo Antibacterial EX W Power, an ultra-concentrate with anti-mold activities.

Sales of home cleaning products were up, helped along by the introduction of an improved version of CuCute dishwashing detergent and the launch of Magiclean Brightening Sheets, a home cleaning product.

By region, sales in Japan increased 3.9% to more than $7.5 billion. The company credited the increase to a rapid response to changing consumer lifestyles and social issues such as the environment, health, aging and hygiene. In Asia, sales rose 20.7% to more than $1.1 billion, as demand for consumer products rose among the growing middle class. In the Americas, sales increased nearly 16% to about $672 million, although half the gain was attributed to currency changes. In this market, sales of skin care products rose during the year, while sales of hair care products declined. Finally, in Europe, sales increased 16.7% to more than $707 million, but again, half the gain was attributed to forex moves. Cosmetic sales rose and hair care sales declined during the year.

Unfortunately, the good news didn’t continue into 2015. First quarter sales fell 3.6%. What’s worse, excluding the effects of currency translation, net sales would have decreased 6.5%.


Sales: 8.4 Billion

Sales: $8.4 billion

Corporate sales rose 7.7%. Sales of beauty products increased 6% to $5.4 billion. The company credited the gains, in part, to the success of Sofina Primavista makeup and Grace Sofine skin care, as well as Kate makeup and Allie UV care. Results were also helped along by the success of Bioré cleansers throughout Asia and higher demand for Goldwell professional hair care products in the Americas and Europe. A year ago, the company issued a recall of skin brighteners that contain Rhododenol after consumers complained of white blotches appearing on their skin.

Fabric and home care sales increased 6.5% to more than $2.9 billion, as Japanese consumers warmed to the idea of saving time and resources by using Neo laundry products. Kao also rolled out a new refill for Attack that saves even more resources. Home care sales improved, thanks to the rollout of Bath Magiclean Aroma Deodorizer Plus and Toilet Magiclean Aroma Deodorizer Plus, as well as the introduction of a 3D adsorbent dryer sheet under the Quickle Wiper brand.

For the first quarter of 2014, sales surged 18% to $3.3 billion. Beauty care sales increased 11.9% and fabric and home care sales jumped more than 23%. The company noted that the Japanese household and personal care products market grew 17% on a value basis, following a bottoming out of consumer prices. Similarly, the cosmetics market in Japan rose 22%. Sales of Kanebo Cosmetics rose 18%, even as the company continued to recall products that contain Rhododenol.


Sales: 8.5 Billion

Sales: $8.5 billion

Sales don’t jibe with last year’s results because Kao changed its fiscal year, reporting results in Japan for the nine months from April 1 to December 31, 2012 and results outside Japan for the 12 months ended Dec. 31, 2012. To arrive at the sales number, Happi used the historical exchange rate for the 12 months ended Dec. 31, 2012. Corporate sales totaled $11.8 billion.

That said, in a review of 2012, CEO Michitaka Sawada noted that in Japan, deflation continued and sentiment had turned gloomy as consumers worried about their future. Despite all the negativity, he noted that Kao has posted three consecutive years of sales and operating income increases. Last year, on a like-for-like basis, beauty care sales rose 0.5% on rising sales of Bioré products in Japan and Asia. Meanwhile sales of Jergens products provided a lift in the Americas. In premium hair care, sales of shampoos, conditioners and hair color was weak in Japan, but foam hair color sales were strong outside the country.

Sales of fabric and home care products rose 2.9% on a like-for-like basis, driven by demand for fabric softener and bleach in Japan and the launch of new Attack products in Asia.

For the first quarter of 2013, corporate sales rose 1.5% to nearly $3.1 billion. Beauty care sales rose 2% to more than $1.3 billion, while fabric and home care sales were up less than 1% to $666 million. For the year, Kao executives predict sales will rise 4.1% to $13.5 billion as they rebuild the prestige cosmetics business in Japan and restructure the consumer products business in China.

Looking ahead to 2015, Kao is aiming for corporate sales of more than $16 billion and operating income of $1.7 billion (based on 2012 exchange rates). By then, the company hopes international sales account for 30% of results. To achieve all that, Kao is promoting products in the area of cleanliness (including laundry detergents) to the growing middle class in emerging markets.
Meanwhile, in mature markets, Kao is determined to accelerate the growth of high value-added products as well as propose products and services that focus on the aging society.


Sales: 10 Billion

Sales: $10.0 billion

Corporate sales rose 2.7% to $14.8 billion for Kao’s fiscal year ended March 31, 2012. That’s ahead of the gains posted by both the beauty care and fabric and home care divisions.

Jergen’s New Glow & Protect products.

Kao reported beauty care sales rose just 0.8% to more than $6.5 billion. Sales of prestige cosmetics grew in Japan and premium hair care sales performed well outside Japan, according to Kao. Sales of prestige cosmetics increased 2.2% on the strength of new product introductions. However, Kao noted that the overall downward trend in prestige cosmetics continues in Japan is due to the lingering effects of the earthquake as well as a shift in consumer preference for lower-priced products. With that in mind, Kao introduced new products under its self-selection brands such as Kate and Evita. In other cosmetics moves, the company improved its Blanchir Superior whitening skin care line as well as its Sofina Beauté brand. The company also revamped its sales methods in an effort to get a lift within a declining market.

Sales of premium skin care products rose in Japan on the strength of new Bioré facial cleansers and Bioré U body cleansers. Outside Japan, Bioré sales were strong in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Indonesia. In North America, Jergens sales rose in the hand and body category.

Biore got a new look this year.

Premium hair care product sales fell in Japan, due to a decline in hair coloring product sales, which Kao blamed on market contraction and some tough competition. On the plus side, sales of Merit shampoo and conditioner were strong in Japan. Hair care sales in the rest of Asia were up, driven by the popularity of Liese foam hair color in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Thailand. In North America and Europe, sales of foam hair color, hair styling products and other new John Frieda products, provided a lift.

Meanwhile, fabric and home care sales were up 2.4% to nearly $3.5 billion. Kao is building its environmentally-preferable line through the Neo brand and rolled out Attack Neo Antibacterial EX Power ultra-concentrated liquid laundry detergent. Other top sellers included Wide Haiter EX Power fabric bleach for color fabrics and new Flair Fragrance fabric softener.

Home care sales got a lift due to the popularity of the CuCute dishwashing detergent, Toilet Quickle cleaning wipes, Quickle Wiper dust mops and Resesh Aroma Charge fabric and air freshener.

This year, Kao will change its fiscal year end date to Dec. 31. The company predicts that beauty care sales will rise 1.7% in local currency, while laundry and fabric care sales will increase 2%.

Looking further ahead, Kao’s executive team is committed to furthering growth in Japan, noting that the home country remains its profit base; accelerating globalization in North America and Europe through prestige cosmetics, premium mass skin care and hair care and professional hair care and finally, progressing rapidly toward an eco-chemical business through its Eco-Technology Research Center, which was completed this year and centralizes environmental research functions.



Sales: 9.5 Billion

Sales: $9.5 billion

Kao is the largest Japanese player in the global household and personal care industry, and as such, it is the first company in The International Top 30 that had to deal with an anemic global recovery and the Great East Japan Earthquake that struck on March 11. The company said deflation, unemployment and other factors drove down consumer prices for household and personal care products as Japanese consumers remained cautious and yet, sales rose 1% due to an increase in volume. However, cosmetics sales fell, due to a consumer move toward low-priced products.

Specifically, beauty care sales declined 2.6% to about $6.2 billion. Sales of prestige cosmetics fell 4% to just under $3 billion, due to the aforementioned preference for lower priced products and the earthquake effects. To get consumers buying again, Kao introduced a multifunctional cream and a low-priced line of products to the Fréshel skin care brand. The company also made the decision to refocus efforts on megabrands such as Coffret D’Or makeup and Sofina skin care products and cosmetics, which have sales in excess of $100 million. And despite a slowdown in China, Kao reported strong sales of prestige cosmetics in Asia, specifically in Taiwan and Thailand. Premium skin care sales in Japan and the rest of Asia rose on the strength of Bioré. In the US, Kao launched a new version of Curél.

Hair care sales were flat in Japan, but sales rose in the rest of Asia due to the launch of Liese hair color foam in Asia. In North America, sales of Goldwell and KMS professional hair care brands rose, while in Europe, the launch of hair color foam contributed to John Frieda sales.

Sales within the fabric and home care unit rose less than 1% to $3.2 billion. Like everywhere else in the world, Kao’s detergent business suffered from increased price competition. To meet the demand for water and energy conservation, the company launched several ultra-concentrated detergent and fabric softeners. Home care sales were flat.


Sales: 8.8 Billion

Sales: $8.8 billion

Corporate sales declined 7.2% last year. By category, beauty care sales fell 6.9% to $5.9 billion. However, fabric and home care sales rose 1% to $2.9 billion. Kao credited the increase to the launch of new products such as Attack Neo. Based on Kao’s proprietary technology, the product can reduce environmental impact by conserving water and electricity and also shorten washing time. Solid sales of Humming Flair fabric softener and Haiter fabric bleach also contributed to the sales increase. In Asia and Oceania, sales grew on a local-currency basis as Attack Easy laundry detergent continued to perform well in Thailand and Indonesia. While consumers in Japan continued to be cost-conscious, sales of home care products increased due to the addition of new items to CuCute dishwashing detergent and efforts to strengthen the Haiter household cleaner brand with the launch of new products including drain cleaner and washing machine cleaner.

But in the beauty care business, prestige cosmetics sales were weak due to the impact of changes in the market structure in Japan. In prestige cosmetics, the Kao Group conducted aggressive initiatives to strengthen and increase its cosmetics megabrands with annual sales of more than 10 billion yen,

Fast Fact:
In September, Kao recalled its Econa cooking oil products after it was revealed in the media that one of its ingredients becomes carcinogenic after digestion. According to the media reports, Econa contained from 10 to 182 times the amount of glycidol fatty acid esters found in regular cooking oils.

including the launch of a new line from the Suisai counseling skin care brand and the addition of items to counseling cosmetics such as the Coffret D’Or makeup and Sofina beauté skin care brands in Japan. However, sales in Japan decreased due to a consumer preference for lower priced products and inventory reductions by retailers. In China, sales increased with aggressive initiatives that included the introduction of new brands. In Russia, the Kao Group strengthened its business operations with the establishment of a Kanebo Cosmetics Inc. subsidiary.

Sales of premium skin care products grew in Japan due to strong sales of the Curél and Bioré U brands. In Asia, Bioré performed well and sales grew on a local-currency basis. In North America and Europe, despite a recovery trend, sales decreased due to the weak markets and the effect of currency translation, the company said.

In premium hair care products, the market in Japan contracted on a value basis, with structural changes such as an increase in the proportion of shampoo and conditioner refill products. However, the Kao Group maintained sales at the previous year’s level and increased its market share due primarily to the improved Segreta premium hair care brand and growth in sales of foam-type hair color. Sales in Asia increased substantially on a local-currency basis, with expanded rollouts of the Asience and Essential Damage Care premium hair care brands in the region and the contribution of Liese hair styling and hair coloring products. Sales in North America and Europe decreased due to the weak markets and the effect of currency translation.

For the current year, Kao expects beauty sales to grow less than 1%. To stay one step ahead of the weak recovery, Kao’s beauty business will work to revitalize the market by adding greater value to products. In Japan, a weak cosmetics market is forecast to continue, but the Kao Group said it will promote the creation of strong brands through initiatives such as launching distinctive new products tailored to changes in consumer needs and reforming sales methods to meet changes in consumer purchasing behavior. Meanwhile, in the household care sector, Kao expects sales to grow 1.1%. Management is determined to build on the launch of Attack Neo ultra-concentrated liquid laundry detergent, by creating products with reduced environmental impact throughout the entire product lifecycle from raw material procurement to use and disposal.

Sales: 10.5 Billion

Sales: $10.5 billion

For the year ended March 31, 2009, Kao Corp.’s corporate sales were $12.7 billion. Consumer product sales were $10.5 billion, down 3.7%. Beauty sales were $5.8 billion, a decline of 6.3%, while its fabric and home care unit posted sales of $2.7 billion, a slight drop of 0.2%. Sales from the human health care unit, which includes oral care and baby care products, were flat at $1.9 billion.

According to Kao, in Japan, sales of premium skin care products increased steadily, with strong performance from Bioré and Curel. Sales of premium hair care products also rose, bolstered by a robust performance from Blauné hair color foam. In prestige cosmetics, Kanebo rolled out the Blanchir Superior whitening skin care brand, and Kao reported that new premium skin care products from Biore and Curel turned in strong performances.

In Asia, Biore turned in a steady performance, particularly in China and Indonesia. The company also launched Asience, a premium hair care line, in China and Thailand. Another success in China: the company said it increased sales per store in prestige cosmetics.

In North America and Europe, sales were impacted by the economy, however Kao said sales of John Frieda and Guhl premium hair care brands were firm in Europe.

In Kao’s household products sector, sales fell a scant 0.2% over the previous fiscal year. Excluding the effect of currency, sales would have risen 1.5%, according to the company. In Japan sales rose 0.3%. In home care, new product launches included CuCute dishwashing detergent and Resesh fabric and air fresheners. In Asia and Oceania, sales rose, boosted by the Magiclean household cleaner line. Sales of Attack Easy laundry detergent in Thailand and Indonesia were also strong, the company said.

Kao continues to push ahead with new products, acquisitions and expansion plans.

This month, Kao will unveil Attack Neo, which it bills as the world’s first ultra-concentrated liquid detergent. Formulated with Aqua W (Double) Riser—a new cleaning ingredient developed with Kao’s original environmental technology—a 400g bottle will wash the same number of loads as one kilogram of conventional liquid detergent.

In June, Kao acquired a plant from Reichardt International AG, which will be used to manufacture premium hair care products. Production was slated to begin in July.
Based in Darmstadt, Germany, Reichardt had been a major consignee for Kao’s main subsidiaries, KPSS-Kao Professional Salon Services GmbH and Kao Brands Europe Limited.

In addition, the company will start construction in January on a Eco-Technology Research Center (ETRC), which will house three research facilities.

Sales: 9.6 Billion

Sales:$9.6 billion for personal care, household care and cosmetics.
Corporate sales:  $11.6 billion for the year ended March 31, 2008.

Kao’s corporate sales rose 7% in 2007. While fabric and home care sales remained flat, the biggest gain for Kao came from its beauty care business, which recorded growth of 7.8% during the year.  Sales in the beauty care business totaled $5.5 billion.

In Asia, Kao expanded its prestige cosmetics business in department stores and other retail channels in China. Moreover, in premium skin care products, sales of Bioré body cleansers expanded to other countries in the ASEAN region, and in premium hair care products, a new line was added to the Asience brand in Taiwan and Hong Kong.

In North America and Europe, Molton Brown cosmetics performed well, mainly in the UK market. In premium hair care products, John Frieda also launched new and improved products. While growth was steady in Europe, the impact of intensifying competition slowed growth in the U.S., according to the company.

Sales in Kao’s fabric and home care business totaled $2.4 billion. While the group focused on higher value-added products and cost reduction activities, rising raw material prices took their toll as operating income fell 3%.

Sales in Japan were flat, but the firm looked to stimulate the market by launching Attack Biogel liquid detergent, which delivers high cleaning efficiency with a small amount of water relative to load size. Fabric softener sales rose, pushed ahead by the launch of two longer-lasting scents in the Floral Humming line.

Sales of home care products increased with the launches of value-added products such as CuCute Power Gel dishwasher detergent and Resesh Antiseptic EX fabric freshener. Kao launched Attack Soft Plus laundry detergent with a fabric softening effect in Thailand and Attack Easy in Indonesia in December 2007. Sales increased in China, where the company unveiled Attack Softener-in, and commenced sales of Attack in Beijing and elsewhere.

Kao continues to tweak its operations following the acquisition of Kanebo. In June, the company started integration of Kao and Kanebo’s logistics bases and joint distribution of their products, such as consumer products and cosmetics. Since November, the two companies have sequentially implemented logistic integrations in the Kansai area and Hokkaido. In October, they plan to establish a logistics center in the Tohoku area.

Related Content