Cosmetics firms offering beauty 'prescriptions'

January 04, 2013

By DAISUKE IKUTA/ Staff Writer

Major cosmetics firms are increasingly offering personalized over-the-counter beauty recommendations akin to medical prescriptions, in a bid to make the customer feel special and to take trade from discount and online retailers.

One such company is beauty-products retailer Kanebo Cosmetics Inc., which considers consultations to be an area of high potential growth.

Starting this month, Kanebo is to furnish outlets with 5,000 skin-inspection devices for sales staff to deploy to help make it feel like a visit to the doctor.

Sales personnel ask the customer about their general daily life and any known skin conditions. They feed the data into the device, which then offers advice on which products to buy.

For those customers who have other things to do with their time, a second, hand-held gadget can check the skin to give a swifter diagnosis. It takes only three minutes to generate results that can help guide the customer to suitable products.

Kanebo plans to expand its prescriptions service to include hair care and is considering producing a range of dedicated products that will be sold only to customers who come in for counseling.

"Women's attitudes toward makeup have changed, from seeking a better appearance to valuing individuality," said Kasumi Okazaki, a trainer for Kanebo sales staff. "Increasing numbers of women want cosmetics that improve their looks--but let them remain themselves."

Kose Corp. is following suit. It already operates a counseling service but will now deploy about 3,000 skin-checking devices that it says can detect changes in the skin as it ages, such as sagging and the growth of blotches.

"There is a flood of information on the Web, but there is demand for actual counseling and the correct information," said Kazuyuki Shinohara, a Kose official.

The company reports strong sales of its Infinity brand at drugstores and large supermarkets, and it forecasts continued growth of 10 percent year on year. Infinity is a premium range that includes lotions priced at around 7,000 yen ($80).

Shiseido Co. focuses more on seniors, a growth market in Japan's graying society. Its products include remedies for age-specific conditions, such as obscured eyebrow- and lip-lines and darkened bags beneath the eyes.

Shiseido plans to complete specialist training for 10,000 sales staff by next spring.

By DAISUKE IKUTA/ Staff Writer
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A Kanebo Cosmetics Inc. employee demonstrates a device that the company says provides prompt diagnosis of skin conditions. (Daisuke Ikuta)

A Kanebo Cosmetics Inc. employee demonstrates a device that the company says provides prompt diagnosis of skin conditions. (Daisuke Ikuta)

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  • A Kanebo Cosmetics Inc. employee demonstrates a device that the company says provides prompt diagnosis of skin conditions. (Daisuke Ikuta)

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