Shiseido is Japan's biggest cosmetics company, and one of the world's top five by revenues, now with operations in almost 120 countries. Internationally, the company is known for a range of prestige makeup, skin-care and professional haircare products marketed under the main Shiseido brand, and it operates fragrance licenses for Issey Miyake and other designers through French subsidiary BPI. Another important string to its bow is Dolce & Gabbana, whose cosmetics license it acquired in 2016. Other acquired Western brands include BareMinerals, Nars and Laura Mercier. Yet while Shiseido has a presence in most large Western markets, its main sphere of operations is still Asia Pacific. In Japan, the group markets a large collection of separately branded beauty products through its own extensive branded retail network and "beauty clubs" as well as department stores. Key skincare and cosmetic brands include luxury Clé de Peau Beauté, Ipsa and Benefique; mid-range Elixir, Maquillage and Haku; and entry-level Senka and Tsubaki skincare, wash and haircare products. China has become the company's next biggest market, with its own separate range of products including AuPres, Urara and Za. Shiseido was plagued by uncertain direction in the late 1990s, and that led to a massive restructuring of the company's portfolio in which around 140 different brands were slimmed down to fewer than 30. The process has been complicated by intense competition in the domestic market from arch-rival Kao Corporation, now a bigger company overall though still smaller than Shiseido in the beauty sector. A new management team was appointed in 2014 to speed up transformation. This is led by Masahiko Uotani, well-experienced in Western-style marketing methods from his previous role as chairman of Coca-Cola Japan. Shiseido's revenues topped Y1 trillion ($8.9bn) for the first time in 2018. For 2019, revenues were approx $10.4bn with net profit of $675m. Japan accounted for 40% of sales and China for another 20%. The company traces its history back to 1872 when Yushin Fukuhara, former head pharmacist for the Japanese navy, took premises in Tokyo's Ginza district to open the country's first western-style pharmacy. The name Shiseido was derived from a Chinese expression meaning "all things come from Mother Earth".
Capsule checked 9th October 2020
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Historical profile information for Shiseido
Adbrands Daily Update 8th Oct 2019: Japanese cosmetics company Shiseido made another foray into the US with the acquisition of cult "clean beauty" skincare brand Drunk Elephant. The price tag was $845m, a generous eight times expected 2019 sales. The business was founded in 2012 by Tiffany Masterson, using only non-toxic ingredients. She is expected to remain on-board as founding partner and chief creative officer.
Adbrands Weekly Update 25th Oct 2018: Ads of the Week "The Party Bus". We'll be very surprised indeed if any other Halloween-themed ad this year matches the creative brilliance of this extraordinary film from an inhouse team at Japanese cosmetics company Shiseido, working with prodco Towerfilm and director Show Yanisagawa. (The latter, incidentally, was also responsible for Shiseido's convention-busting 'High School Girl?' film of 2015). That semi-animated middle section surely can't be one single take but it certainly looks like it is. We're not quite sure what it all means but that's sort of beside the point. Just sit back and revel in the sheer visual extravagance of the thing.
Adbrands Weekly Update 24th Aug 2017: Ads of the Week: "All Things Beautiful". Japanese beauty giant Shiseido has rolled out a massive campaign to launch new skincare brand Waso across Asia. Here's a gorgeous sci-fi-inflected film from Wieden & Kennedy Tokyo - we were reminded of the opening credits sequence from the Westworld TV series - to highlight the range's philosophy of beauty inspired by nature. It's accompanied by an edgy press campaign depicting Millennial hipsters in striking wilderness locations around Japan. Lovely!
Adbrands Weekly Update 9th Jun 2016: Japanese giant Shiseido agreed to acquire US-based beauty and make-up range Laura Mercier and associated brand ReVive for an estimated $260m. Combined sales were $175m in 2015, according to Shiseido. The business is currently owned by Gurwitch Products, a unit of direct seller Amway. Make-up artist Laura Mercier is expected to retain her connection to her range.
Adbrands Weekly Update 13th Nov 2014: Carsten Fischer, the effective #2 and only Westerner on the senior management committee of Japanese beauty giant Shiseido, said he would leave the company at the end of his current contract in 2015. Despite being the longest-serving executive board member at Shiseido and overseeing the growth of its international business from 20% of sales to more than 50% last year, he has been passed over repeatedly for the top job. Shiseido has appointed three successive CEOs in the past three years, all of them Japanese.
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