TOKYO — Tourists — particularly the Chinese — may well drive beauty growth in Japan, at least in the first quarter of 2015.
This story first appeared in the December 19, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Kazutoshi Kobayashi, president and chief executive officer of Kose Corporation said, “most years during the Chinese New Year period, large numbers of Chinese tourists come to Japan for sightseeing, and we have seen a lot of cases in which they buy cosmetics as souvenirs,” Kobayashi said. “We are expecting that sales [during that period] in 2015 will be higher than in 2014. One reason is that, because the trend of the weak yen looks like it will continue for a while, we expect there will be an increase in the number of foreign tourists to Japan. Another thing is that, starting from October, Japan’s system of tax exemption changed, and cosmetics products, which used to not be eligible for a tax exemption, were approved for tax exemption, making them easier for tourists to buy.
“As for our company, after the consumption tax increase in April 2014, there were a few difficult months due to the recoil from that, but that situation has gradually improved and now we have recovered to pre-tax increase [sales] levels,” continued Kobayashi. “According to the different department stores, sales of big-ticket items are increasing with winter bonuses, and cosmetics are seeing the same trend.”
“As December is known as a bonus month in Japan, expensive items sell more,” said Masahiko Uotani, president and ceo of Shiseido. “We will appeal to the customer to cash in on the benefits of economics.”
Uotani also noted that Shiseido is gearing up for a strong Chinese New Year. “There are two peaks for Chinese people visiting Japan — one is in October and the other is Chinese New Year,” he said. “Chinese visitors to Japan were decreased for a certain period of time, but they came back in October this year. We are expecting more customers than ever in Chinese New Year holiday in February 2015. Tax exemption for foreign tourists was started from October 1, 2014. [I am] is frequently visiting the counters and the motivation of the sales front is high.” He noted that the brand’s new Shiseido Ultimune skin care line, launched globally, is “moving quite well.”