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'Made in Japan' label powers cosmetics exports

Shiseido, Kose, Kanebo boost efforts to lure Chinese consumers

Shiseido's Waso skin care line features Japanese ingredients.

TOKYO -- Japan's cosmetics exports are on track to hit another all-time high this year as Shiseido and other heavyweights accelerate efforts to attract consumers in China and other parts of Asia with the appeal of the "Made in Japan" label.

These exports are expected to exceed 300 billion yen ($2.75 billion) for the first time ever in 2017, setting a record for the fifth year in a row. About 90% of Japan's cosmetics exports are bound for other Asian markets.

Kose will start exporting Sekkisei MYV, a premium product in the Sekkisei skin care line, to China as early as this year. The product is manufactured in Gunma Prefecture, north of Tokyo. The company also has begun selling its Visee makeup line through an e-commerce site run by Alibaba Group Holding.

Shiseido aims to woo young consumers with its Waso skin care products featuring Japanese ingredients. The company started exporting the products to more than a dozen Asian markets last month. In China, Shiseido also has debuted offerings emphasizing their Japanese origin in its mainstay Elixir skin care line. In overseas markets, products made in Japan often are associated with high quality.

Kanebo Cosmetics, a subsidiary of consumer goods maker Kao, will increase Chinese sales locations for its Kate makeup line, with plans to have 700 to 800 locations by year-end, up from about 400 now. Kanebo, which makes Kate products in Kanagawa Prefecture and Shanghai, plans to increase output at the Japanese location.

In recent years, Japanese cosmetics companies have enjoyed an earnings boost from purchases made by inbound tourists. These companies seek to keep them as customers, even after they return home.

Japan's cosmetics exports, including hair care products, jumped 34.5% on the year to a record 167.7 billion yen in the January-June period, Finance Ministry trade statistics show. The figure for all of 2017 is expected to surpass the 267.6 billion yen record set in 2016.

Of these exports, 32% are headed for Hong Kong, followed by 24% for mainland China, 11% for South Korea and 10% for Taiwan.

The Chinese cosmetics market continues to grow, hitting $45.3 billion in 2016, up 50% over the past five years, British research firm Euromonitor International says. Sales of upmarket items are rising, especially in urban areas.


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