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Rodan + Fields Sets Sights on Japan in 2020

After launching in Canada and Australia, the leading skin-care brand plans to grow in Asia.

Rodan + Fields is expanding to Japan in 2020, WWD has exclusively learned.

The American brand — which reportedly had $1.5 billion in sales in 2017 — was the number-one skin-care company in the U.S. from 2016 to 2018, according to data released by Euromonitor. Building on its growth, the brand first branched out internationally in Canada in 2015, before venturing into Australia two years later. (It also ranked as last year’s fastest-growing skin-care brand in the latter.) Now, the company is looking to Asia.

“We feel as though the market in Japan is really the right market for us based on our doctor-to-doctor philosophy about skin care, based on trends and dermatology in the market for the consumer under brands they have and also the fact that the philosophy of skin is based on ritual of multiple products, which really aligns nicely with our multistep therapy,” said Rodan + Fields’ chief global officer Lynn Emmolo.

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The brand has formulated new products designed exclusively for the Japanese market. “Japan in and of itself as the second-largest skin-care market in the world, the prestige around the market, we feel it makes perfect sense for us to go into that market as a first step into building our global business on a significant level,” she said.

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Industry sources estimate the brand will generate $100 million in annualized sales for the first two years in Japan.

“We have been in the market for several years studying the Japan consumer,” Emmolo said of current timing. “Understanding the consumer is really important. But then operationally, you have to be ready. You have to have the right people with global experience. You have to have the distribution and all the operational elements to become a global company….We have a team in Japan right now. We have the people to make it happen.”

Founded in 2002 by practicing, Stanford-trained dermatologists Katie Rodan and Kathy Fields — creators of acne treatment Proactiv (which they have since sold) — Rodan + Fields is the brand behind Lash Boost, as well as a number of leading regimen-based skin-care items made to target problem-focused skin care such as antiaging, dark spots, redness and acne. The company’s products are sold either directly online or by its team of independent consultants. This year, the brand released Spotless, an acne line for teens, and is getting ready to introduce two more products.

The first is called Recharge, which is comprised of a blend of antioxidants, electrolytes, peptides, super fruits and prebiotics and aims to fight UV rays, pollution and blue light from computers and phone screens. It also has “technology based on glutathione,” which depletes over time and is key to healthy skin.

“[It’s] a [three-step] regimen that is designed for twentysomethings,” Emmolo said. “When you are 20, you think you don’t have skin problems, but it’s really about keeping the best skin of your life. We found that the doctors are seeing more younger women in their office. They have multiple skin issues that have to do with stress, with the environment, with their lifestyle. And because they’re in a selfie generation, they are much more interested in preserving their skin rather than doing any kind of surgical elements on their skin.”

Rodan + Fields Sets Sights on
Recharge, Rodan + Fields’ new, three-step acne regiment for young Millennials. Courtesy

The second launch is a handheld tool created to shrink pores.

“You have about 10,000 pores on your face, and this tool with one press can clean out the T-zone pores to really enhance your skin,” she explained. “When your pores are clogged, you get excess oil and that can cause acne and other dermatology situations. There are two tips on it — one is for light exfoliation and the other is to de-cleanse blackheads; it’s about four to five inches, small, easy to use. The tips are interchangeable.”

While there are no other specific markets in the brand’s sights, Emmolo shared that the significance of going international offers the opportunity to grow even more, and long-term goals include “reaching more consumers in a different way.”

“If you look at global, the credibility of Japan as far as that stepping stone is really important,” she said. “You start with one market, you do it well, and you go to the next market. And so, we think of Japan as a stepping stone based on the prestige….I would be glad to tell you in two or three years that we are one of the top 10 non-Japanese global prestige players in the market.”