Tourist spend still boosting Japan's cosmetics market

Despite a shrinking domestic audience, Japan’s personal care sales are thriving thanks to Asian shopping tourists, while local brands are enjoying an export boom as J-beauty trends

Japan's personal care sector experienced continued growth in 2017, with shipments surpassing Japanese yen ¥1.6 trillion (US$14.34bn) during the year to reach a new record high.

Virtually every sector recorded an increase in sales on the previous year. Figures for the January-April period of 2018 suggest that this positivity is being carried over into this year, boding well for personal care companies.

Domestic demand has been stable thanks to an improving economy and innovative new products, analysts say. But overall, sales have been boosted by record high numbers of foreign tourists snapping up Japanese brands, which have a reputation for being high quality and good value for money.

According to the country's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, sales of personal care products in Japan during 2017 were up 6.9% on the previous year, with make-up lines particularly strong, along with sun creams and perfumes & eau de colognes – not a sector that is traditionally strong in this market.

Only sales of men's skin care products and hair care items contracted over the year, the latter by 0.02% on the previous year's figure.

Women's skin care items have performed particularly strongly in the first four months of 2018, according to the Ministry, with sales of moisturisers and special care ranges both up nearly 16% and facial washes & cleansers up more than 9% year-on-year.


Younger consumers are snapping up cheaper items – taking advantage of a trend known as 'petit price'


Tourists targeted

Stable domestic demand is a significant achievement given Japan's well-documented falling birth rate, shrinking population and growing percentage of elderly Japanese.

Japan's national Statistics Bureau reported that cosmetics expenditure in 2017 surpassed outlays on women's apparel for the first time since the organisation has been collating statistics.

"While spending on apparel has decreased as a result of the rise of fast fashion and frugal customers, spending on cosmetics remains stable, indicating this has become . . .

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