Expanding footprint: Kao aims to raise market share of key global brands via product renewal and flagship stores

By Hui Ling Dang

- Last updated on GMT

Premium brand SENSAI will be launching an “enhanced edition” of its ULTIMATE products to celebrate the series’ 10th anniversary. ©Kao
Premium brand SENSAI will be launching an “enhanced edition” of its ULTIMATE products to celebrate the series’ 10th anniversary. ©Kao

Related tags Kao Cosmetics Skin care Japan

Japanese cosmetics giant Kao Corporation has dedicated resources to strengthen the presence of selected brands worldwide, with premium brand SENSAI leading the way through an upcoming flagship store in Shanghai.

This comes after the company’s recent announcement on its focus on prestige beauty​.

A brand under Kanebo Cosmetics, SENSAI spearheads a group of 11 brands, including Curél and Molton Brown, which were identified in 2018 to drive Kao’s global expansion.

“Based on the latest fiscal year results of Kao’s beauty brands, a significant 87% of sales were generated from Asia, with Japan alone accounting for 64%. This highlights our strong reliance on the Asian market, but it also indicates a vast potential for growth in overseas markets.

“The premium skin care market is booming worldwide, and we are well-equipped to compete internationally with SENSAI, which will lead our global expansion efforts,” ​the firm said.

While Curél’s opportunities reside in the dermo-cosmetics category, Molton Brown is said to have “incredible potential” in the rapidly growing lifestyle fragrances segment.

“Curél aims to expand its presence in the sensitive skin space by utilising its core technology of ceramide skin care, and providing customised solutions for different regions’ climate and skin concerns.

“Molton Brown’s focus is on the European market, leveraging its status as a Royal Warrant holder. At the same time, we are exploring the thriving Asian premium fragrances market.”

Bringing “Japanese luxury” worldwide

First introduced in Europe in 1979, SENSAI has established a position in the market as a “uniquely Japanese luxury brand”.

The brand debuted in its domestic market in 2019, and in China two years later. It is available in more than 40 countries today, including the Middle East.

“SENSAI’s growth strategy centres around the renewal of the ULTIMATE skin care line, and expansion in Asia, particularly in China.”

This year, SENSAI will be opening a flagship store in Shanghai to establish “a luxury business model” unique to the brand.

The store will offer treatment services targeted at high-end consumers that reinforce the brand concept and synergise with existing e-commerce activities.

In addition, the brand will be launching an “enhanced edition” of four ULTIMATE products to celebrate the series’ 10th anniversary.

International releases of these products will take place in phases from September 1, while the launch in Japan will start on September 6.

All four products are formulated with Koishimaru silk, a rare and ancient ingredient that promotes hyaluronic acid synthesis for skin hydration, and Sakura Eternal Complex, a compound that works harmoniously with Koishimaru silk to create firm, glowing skin. 

As part of its commitment to sustainability, SENSAI’s latest packaging is made from recycled materials. The upcoming ULTIMATE THE CREAM N will also be available as a refill.

Paying tribute to the spirit of Japanese craftsmanship, SENSAI has collaborated with Kaikado, the oldest maker of tinplate tea caddies in Japan, to roll out a limited-edition version of ULTIMATE THE CREAM N for the local and European markets.

“The special edition set includes a case with a handcrafted chazutsu (tea caddie) and two refills of the cream. The case is intended to be a collector’s item to be cherished for life.”

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