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Shiseido Expands Americas Innovation Center

The East Windsor, N.J. research and development facility will support the New York region in product innovation for makeup and skin care.

Last month, Shiseido Americas Corporation quietly unveiled its newly-expanded research and development facility, called the Americas Innovation Center, in East Windsor, New Jersey.

The 22,000 square-foot facility has been expanded from its initial size of 6,600 square-feet in order to accommodate the company’s growing focus on new product development — particularly in makeup, but skin-care will be a staple as well — with more advanced technology, space for consumer testing, and enhanced safety and quality control, some activities of which previously took place in Japan, where Shiseido’s global headquarters are located.

“Science [and] technology is really key for Shiseido as a heritage for many years — not only in the U.S. but globally we’re expanding this [as well]. That’s going to become a base of our integral business,” said Masahiko Uotani, chief executive officer of Shiseido.

The expansion of the Americas Innovation Center comes on the heels of Uotani’s 2014 appointment as ceo and his announcement of the Vision 2020 plan, Shiseido’s global strategy that involves a refocusing of energy on new product development and clustering innovation at a regional level in order to take better advantage of local strengths.

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For example, the New York region has been named the Makeup Center of Excellence, and the Innovation Center will support that mission on the technical side by supplying a wealth of new product research and development for the category, which will be utilize globally by Shiseido. In April, it was announced that Jill Scalamandre will assume her new position with Shiseido Americas Corporation as president of the Global Makeup Center of Excellence, overseeing a cluster of talent focused on developing the company’s roster of prestige cosmetics brands. Her office will not be based out of the Innovation Center in East Windsor.

President and ceo of Shiseido Americas Corporation Marc Rey noted that the U.S. possesses a special role in terms of makeup, as it is the biggest market for the category in the world.

In his current role, one urgent task for Rey is that of reinvigorating the Shiseido-branded color cosmetics line, which Uotani noted is secondary to Shiseido’s eponymous skin-care business, which is much stronger. In line with Uotani’s fast-paced expectations, a revamp of the Shiseido-branded cosmetics range — Rey claims the real work lies in figuring out how to market and tell the brand’s story, rather than product innovation — is expected to take place within the next two years.

“There’s absolutely nothing that prevents the Shiseido brand from being strong in makeup. The whole history of the Shiseido brand is innovation, color [and] borrowing from the world. The brand has all the legitimacy,” said Rey. “To make it very successful you have to leverage trends, you have to have a wheel to develop it, you have to bring a little bit more of emotion. Because we’re a strong, rational skin-care brand, we have developed makeup with [rationale], [and] not enough emotion. It’s something we believe has a lot of potential.”