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Japan | DECORTÉ Localization Strategy in the Western Market

Aug 13, 2018.Tokyo, JP
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Masaki Kosugi, Manager of Business Development Sec., Europe and America Business Div.

KOSÉ, whose sales for the fiscal of March 31, 2018 increased by 13.7% over the previous year and has reached a record high for the fifth consecutive year. Among them, the North American market showed the greatest growth with a 12.2% increase from the previous year. Steadily developing in the European and American markets without being compromised by the inbound bubble from Greater China and Southeast Asia, it has opened nine DECORTÉ stores since February 2016 in North America and at Saks Fifth Avenue main branch in New York this year in May. Mr. Masaki Kosugi at the European and US Business Development Division gives us more insight on the situation and talks about the future of the company's global strategies.

The business division was divided into regions this year, have you engaged in overseas businesses for a long time?
I was in the laboratory for 15 years after joining the company and was engaged in product development from skin care to makeup for KOSÉ’s individual brands including "DECORTÉ". Since then, I thought to explore the possibilities of creative interesting innovations in technology by visiting factories and laboratories around the world from partners in Asia, Europe, North America, and South America. My job was to successfully adopt the technologies that I didn’t find in Japan and fuse together a blend that I sought out to adopt it into the company’s research and technology. My foundations were in part different from people who worked in the sales field so I was able to utilize my expertise to better explain the product in detail. I enjoy conversing with people who are interested about the background and technical aspects in our products and was more than happy to know that customers at oversea events have come up to ask us. As they physically come in touch with our products, they can easily see the efforts and quality we put into our research.

How are people responding to DECORTÉ at Saks Fifth Avenue?
Some of our customers are still unfamiliar with the brand, however once they have sampled the product and has felt the texture, the finishing, the difference in waking up with this product in the morning, they know that the quality that we bring speaks for itself. For the first time when I hear customers in Europe and the United States have become a repeat fan of DECORTÉ, I feel really honoured. We held a workshop event for Saks counter floor renewal in the New York store and it had a very good reception that we’d like to continue these events in the future.

With the limited number of stores overseas, how do you gather your customer base?
Appointing Kate Moss as the global ambassador received an overwhelming response. An understatement to say that she’s well known in the West, and for those who are unfamiliar with the brand are often curious when they see her visuals which is one of the factors that contributes to our selling point.
Kate Moss herself has said that she’s very much a fan of DECORTÉ that she’s been uploading pictures up on her instagram. With her contribution, customers around the world have become aware of us which isn’t limited to our in-store customer base but is also created in various ways. At the opening event for Saks, people were interested why Kate Moss was the front face of DECORTÉ. London’s Selfridges store launch event have also contributed in the spreading of our brand.
In America, the country is vast and the EC is developed which attracts many customers that uses online shopping.  Not only do you have to convey the brand’s philosophies but it’s also crucial that the system should deliver products promptly to customers.

Can you give us a few aspects as to how different the DECORTÉ VI-FUSION differs from the original line.
The climate, lifestyle, skincare habits and values ​​of beauty are different in every culture whether its in Europe, the United States, or Japan. Directly using the original Japanese products makes it harder to convey the appeal of DECORTÉ, therefore, it was necessary to reconstruct and think about our customer base in Europe and the United States without changing the quality and technology.
In Japan, skin care routines happen in the following steps: makeup remover, facial cleansing, milky lotion, toner, followed by essence and finally cream. Skincare steps in other countries are completely different and in most Western countries, they follow simpler steps of using makeup remover, facial cleansing, toner with a cotton pad to wipe excess, then moisturize with essence and cream. Japanese people tend to follow recommendations offered by beauty staffs at the counters while Westerners tend to have a solid conscience of knowing what they want and what they like or don’t. Also in terms of the environment, Japan has all four seasons with summer having the highest temperature and humidity, while in Europe and the US, the climate is drier so the demands are different. Japanese night creams doesn’t fulfill the needs of the West, so both day creams and night creams needed adjustments. Knowing this, we use what we have in our technology to accommodate our Western counterparts to create a lineup suiting their needs. Our lip line has a palette that Kate Moss has also taken a liking to and they are also different in formula and design. Cute shades of pink and glossy formulas are rather popular in Japan, but in Europe and the United States, they tend to reach out to highly pigmented colours in reds and beiges. Clearly Western complexions are different and with that in mind, we based our makeup line to suit their facial features in order to attract consumers in the west.

So far, what has been the most successful in terms of promoting the brand?
An opening event planned by Selfridges in the UK with Kate Moss. Kate appeared at the opening party among famous influencers and press which created a significant impact on the brand image with a lot excitement from guests posting through SNS spreading worldwide. Also, what actually appeared at the counter as a surprise has not been seen in the past in the same department store with more than 100 years history, leading to worldwide repercussions. Media has been successfully in creating brand ambassador activities especially in Europe and the United States that trigger mass responses. Thanks to the news, there were lots of offers coming in and the PR diffusions that created this chain of events unique to this era.

Is there any possibilities of cooperating with TARTE?
We often work with Tarte and they have given us a hint to the various ways of effectively utilizing Social Media. At the same time using SNS alone is not enough and I think it’s necessary to give people the essence of the brand by building a relationship with our potential customers. Since DECORTÉ was built on the premises of trust, we want to communicate not only digitally, but to cherish our real connections with people to communicate the brand philosophy.

Are you thinking of providing Maison DECORTÉ spa treatment services like the one at GINZA SIX in the future?
The spa culture from ancient times been deeply rooted in European cultures and are also existed in department stores at Saks and Selfridges. In Europe, treatments have been  actively performed in perfumeries and cosmetic specialty stores in the city, and in Japan, the spa is positioned as means of building a relationship with the trust of customers.

DECORTÉ luxury line, AQ held a conference in Italy. What kind of expansion are you planning in Europe?
In Europe, especially in Italy and Spain, there are many cosmetic specialty stores. But from there, we’d like to cultivate our customer service style like we have in Japan along with the know-how of the company which is easier to enter the market. Even at the event, we still value our communication with the owner of the shop and are strengthening mutual trust. In the future, we hope to expand while utilizing the experiences we had from the conference to extend our expertise further in Japan. It became clear that rather than the focus on the usual business of selling, product introductions in the researchers' perspective are more intriguing to Europeans. The research institute in France and Lyon which started this year will not only focus on fundamental research, but from now on, European branch offices and researchers from the same place can work together as well to create endless possibilities to merge the business side and research.

How do you think people are responding to the J - Beauty trend occurring in the West?
Contrary to the K-Beauty’s aggressiveness created from the boom of unique product ideas, J-Beauty has always been known to take great care in ingredients, scrutiny on quality and safety that’s been recognized through and through. Rather than riding on a transient trends, it’s necessary to adopt according to the times while stressing the importance in communicating about quality.
DECORTÉ was established in 1970 and since that time 50 years ago, the brand has followed the ideology that "There is no ethnicity restrictions or frameworks to authentic beauty." From the time of the founder, we feel that it's more important than ever to spread this idea globally which I feel more than honour to. With that being said, I’d like to continue working towards to raising DECORTÉ ‘s brand awareness in the world.