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Shiseido’s Sher Le Chua on the Japanese beauty brand’s bet on experiential retail and science-backed skincare

Sher Le Chua Shiseido

Japanese beauty brand Shiseido, founded in 1872 in Ginza, Tokyo, has touted a blend of eastern philosophy and western science since its inception, building its brand on research and development.

While the company saw a decline in sales in 2023, looking ahead to 2024 it anticipates an improved performance of 11 percent growth in Japan, 13 percent growth in Asia Pacific as well as 7 percent growth in its travel retail business. Shiseido has also set a target of 15 percent growth in 2025.

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Retail in Asia speaks with Sher Le Chua, APAC regional brand director at Shiseido, on the brand’s view of the latest industry trends, and how its new campaign aims to put its research-backed skincare top of mind for Asian consumers.

RiA: Can you share with us a few trends you have observed in Asia’s beauty landscape?

Sher Le Chua: The trends in the beauty landscape have always been fluid and constantly evolving, and especially so in the last few years, due to pandemic-related reasons. 

Some notable trends especially in Asia include the rise in demand for anti-ageing care among a much younger demographic, emerging experiential retail, and growth of influencer and celebrities’ impact on  brands, in part due to technological advancements.  

The younger demographic is a highly discerning group with high expectations on the products they use – including in research and development, proven efficacy results and claims, transparency over ingredients and the overall safety behind them. We want to ensure that our  customers are able to learn and experience [Shiseido’s legacy and research in beauty] through our touch points both online and  offline. 

RiA: How is Shiseido is responding to these evolving consumer preferences? 
A Shiseido store in Tokyo. Source: Shutterstock

Chua: As consumers return to stores, the next evolution of retail will rely heavily on providing  differentiated experiences or services to engage and excite consumers.

At the same time,  tech developments like the metaverse are blurring the offline and online worlds like never before, allowing for creating truly omni-channel shopping experiences for consumers. Evolution of technologies like AI is also enabling micro-targeting and hyper personalisation to  provide superior end to end consumer experiences and in-depth solutions for beauty  consumers. 

In driving more unique experiences in-store, we aim to transform our stores to deliver more tech-based and hyper-personalised brand experiences with virtual try-on, skin diagnosis tools such as Shiseido’s Visualizer – a touchless, over the counter, smart mirror solution which  measures the consumers’ internal skin circulation.

In gaining wider reach with our current and  potential customers, we collaborate closely with our brand ambassadors, KOLs and members of fandoms, to authentically spread our brand message and do this across effective platforms  including live commerce. 

We are constantly learning and adapting to offer unique experiences to our  customers. We also believe what sets [the brand] apart is that we go deeper than beauty trends – as a Japanese beauty brand, it is our mission to provide a long-lasting, fundamental, and holistic solution that works from the core. 

RiA: Tell us about some of the initiatives Shiseido is undertaking to address the global  anti-ageing skincare market and set industry benchmarks. 
Shiseido global ambassador Anne Hathaway. Source: Shiseido

Chua: A good example that showcases Shiseido’s uniqueness is the revamped Vital Perfection Advanced Cream, our age-defying skincare franchise, which consists of the new and improved product line up with cutting-edge technology and ingredients such as the new SafflowerRED™ and the updated ReNeuraRED Technology™ included in this cream.

We take pride in our continuous research on ageing skin care. We aim to be the leading Asian beauty expert brand, and we do this by leveraging advanced technologies with the likes of biomimetic ingredients, advanced delivery  systems, and gene expression analysis to create products that address specific skin concerns.

We recognise the diversity of Asian skin and aim to create products that cater to individual needs and utilise technologies like AI or skin analysis tools to recommend  personalised routines. 

RiA: Shiseido has launched a new campaign, #PotentialHasNoAge. Can you share how the campaign was conceived, and its resonance with your Asian audience? 
The ‘Journey of Potential’ event in Bangkok brought together customers, retailers, VIPs and  fans together for our first-ever Asia-Pacific VPN event, together with Japanese scientist Minako Ando, the lead of Shiseido R&D. Source: Shiseido

Chua: We hope to encourage consumers to embrace their current stage in life, to try new things, and to adapt, through conveying the message, “Potential Has No Age”, in conjunction  with the revamp of the Vital Perfection range.

“Potential Has No Age” is a tagline co-created with Anne Hathaway,  our Vital Perfection global ambassador, to connect with the audience that ageing is simply a sign of progression where learning and living is an integral part of the process. 

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Asia is a highly dynamic region and we are seeing  increasing growth opportunities in our existing markets and emerging ones like India, and we  want to be a trusted brand not only for the efficacious products, and to connect with strong, powerful brand statements.

In terms of ageing prevention, Shiseido has over 30 years of intense wrinkle research, combining decades of Asian skincare expertise with advanced  technologies to create products that resonate with our diverse customer base.