Corporate Sales: $12 billion
Beauty Sales: $5 billion
Key Personnel: Michitaka Sawada, president and chief executive officer; Katsuhiko Yoshida, senior managing executive officer; Toshiaki Takeuchi, senior managing executive officer; Masumi Natsusaka, managing executive officer; Motohiro Morimura, managing executive officer; Yasushi Aoki, managing executive officer; Hideko Aoki, managing executive officer.
Major Products/Brands: Ban, Bioré, Curel, Goldwell, Jergens, John Frieda, Kanebo, Molton Brown
New Products: Molton Brown Vintage 2015 Elderflower Collection, Biore Deep Pore Charcoal Cleanser, John Frieda Brilliant Brunette Luminous Color Glaze, Jergen’s Wet Skin Moisturizer.
Comments: Kao’s 2015 net sales experienced a 5% growth over 2014. Likewise, the company’s beauty care business also enjoyed a 3% boost, with consolidated net sales growing from $4.8 billion in 2014 to $5 billion in 2015.
In the company’s key regions of Japan, Asia and the Americas, the Biore skin care line helped drive sales. In Europe, the sales of hair care products and professional hair care products helped boost the bottom line.
In November, Kao debuted a new prestige cosmetics brand, Sofina iP in its Ginza, Tokyo flagship store and later rolled it out in department stores across Japan in 2016. The two-product line takes an internal and external approach to beauty, combining Sofina Bare Essence, a foam with carbonic acid for the skin, with Sofina Drink, which is formulated with chlorogenic acid, a plant polyphenol, and other ingredients that the company says activate “the ability to regain beauty often reduced by fatigue and stress.”
In the U.S., the company launched Jergen’s for Wet Skin Moisturizer in July, an in-shower moisturizer that promises twice the moisture in half the time.
News of Note in 2016
In 2009, Kao publicly affirmed its commitment to improve its overall sustainability efforts and this June, the company took another step in the eco-conscious direction, becoming the first company in Japan to use corrugated cartons accredited by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Described as the first trial of its kind in Japan, Kao began procurement of the cartons in March 2016, and by the end of 2016, approximately 50% of the company’s corrugated cartons will be FSC-certified.
Kao also established the Sustainable Paper and Pulp Procurement Guidelines, under which it pledged to commit zero deforestation for its paper and pulp procurement. The following goals of these guidelines are expected to be in full compliance by 2020: Kao will purchase only recycled paper or sustainably sourced paper and pulp for use in its consumer products, packaging and office paper; when Kao uses virgin pulp, Kao commits to zero deforestation at the source of wood fiber for raw materials; Kao will purchase only pulp for raw materials that is traceable to the source.
The company’s own projections for 2016 include self-issued challenges to revitalize the market by adding greater value to its products, as well as “assessing changes in consumer attitudes toward beauty and lifestyle habits.” This work, it said, includes launching “distinctive” new products promoted with reformed marketing activities and sales activities. For example, the company said it would launch new refill options for shampoos and conditioners that were not only easy-to-use but also more environmentally conscious.