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TOKYO — Shiseido’s new president and chief executive officer Masahiko Uotani said Tuesday he plans to revamp the Japanese beauty giant’s marketing strategy and better focus the brand image of a company that sells everything from mass-market toiletries to prestige skin-care items.
This story first appeared in the April 9, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Uotani addressed journalists for the first time since he took office on the first of this month and gave a few general indications of his vision for the company. Shiseido also used the occasion to unveil a new skin-care serum called Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate, the first product launch under Uotani’s tenure.
Uotani said that he and his new team will be reevaluating the company’s current management strategy in the coming months but details on the future of Shiseido’s various products and brands have yet to be finalized. They plan to gather input from clients and business partners, as well as within the company, he said.
The executive said that there will be two central pillars to Shiseido’s strategy moving forward: restructuring its business in Japan in order to return to a path of growth, and accelerating its profitability by establishing itself as a global brand. In order to achieve both of these goals, he said that the company must redefine its flagship Shiseido brand, while articulating clearer identities for other brands in its portfolio.
“A lot of people know the Shiseido brand and have a very favorable impression of it…but in terms of products, the Shiseido brand name is used on a wide variety of products, from prestige cosmetics to drugstore items,” Uotani said. “I think it’s been a bit diluted. What is Shiseido? Is it a prestigious luxury cosmetics brand or is it a shampoo brand? I’d like to focus this a bit more.”
Uotani, who worked as a marketing consultant to Shiseido before taking the helm of the company, said he has spoken with about 6,000 of Shiseido’s employees to get a better sense of the current situation and what changes need to be made.
“What I sensed strongly was that in the current situation, many employees are pessimistic, but they want to know what the company is doing, and what they can do, to change things,” he said.
Tuesday’s product launch of Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate marks the first step toward a revamp of Shiseido’s marketing efforts under Uotani. The serum will hit select department stores in Japan and the U.S. in August and will be rolled out in other international markets from Sept. 1.
Shiseido bills the new serum as “an item which stands as the symbolic presence of the revolution of the brand.” Developed from 20 years of research in the fields of dermatology and immunology, it aims to boost the immunity of the skin, Shiseido said. This, in turn, helps protect the skin from outside influences like stress and environmental factors, and boosts its natural ability to regenerate and renew itself. The key ingredient is called Ultimune Complex, which is a combination of Carboxymethyl Glucan Na, PEG/PPG-14/7 dimethyl ether, rose water and glycerin.
The serum will available in a 30-ml. size, priced at 8,000 yen, or about $77.50 at current exchange, and 50 ml. for 12,000 yen, or roughly $116.30. It is packaged in a graduated red glass bottle, utilizing the brand’s signature color.
The U.S. launch will involve distribution in 1,400 doors and handing out 2.1 million samples, plus a video and social media campaign. Industry sources estimate the launch could generate $20 million in retail sales in the first year on counter. The print and digital media ad budget was estimated at $3.6 million for the balance of this year.
“The launch of Ultimune speaks to our heritage as a skin-care brand and underscores our commitment to bringing innovative, cutting-edge products and technology to market,” said Heidi Manheimer, ceo of Shiseido Cosmetics America.