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Japanese Skin Care Brands Doing Poorly in US Market

Why Isn't Japanese Skin Care Bigger in the US?

In other parts of the world, brands like Shu Uemura, Shiseido, and Kanebo are household names and integral parts of most women's skin care regimens. Globally, they're renowned for their technologically advanced formulas, and the European market loves them. But given Shu's recent withdrawal from the US market, clearly things aren't going so well here.

Why, though? The US is the world's largest cosmetic market, and brands from other parts of the globe, like Illamasqua, have arrived here to a big welcome recently. So it's strange that such well-respected Japanese brands don't have a much larger share of the market. The current theory is that American women spend far less time on skin care than their Asian and European sisters. We aren't as willing to invest on prevention, preferring instead to use makeup or fast-working products for existing problems. It's an interesting idea, but do you think it explains the phenomenon?

Join The Conversation
sourcherries sourcherries 7 years
I agree that it's about marketing--I don't think these companies have reached out to the public enough. Also, clarity in listing their ingredients is a must.
kerish kerish 7 years
I do get teh impression that americans prfer quick fixes to preventative beauty.I also realise while in europe that the boutique brands are what the masses prefer. I just discovered MUAC (make up artist choice ) and love the affordable prices. I just bought a very pricy Anti Aging serum bcus its an investment.
chequettex chequettex 7 years
I take good care of my skin (sun protection, moisturizer, gentle cleansers, etc.) but I do it with drugstore brands, not expensive stuff. I learned good skin care and frugality from my mom - there is a large swath of American women who want to take the best care of their skin that they possibly can, but cannot afford a $50 skin cream.
risqueredhead risqueredhead 7 years
I think Bella is correct that American women don't spend as much time or effort on skin care. I don't necessarily think that prestige brands are the best (I bought stuff from one Shiseido line that broke me out like crazy) but American women often pay more attention to makeup than skin care. From spending time in France, women there really pay attention to their skin - this of course depends on the region, but in Bretagne women didn't wear tons of makeup, they put an emphasis on having healthy skin. They don't use super-harsh toners and acne treatments to the extent we do. I like the idea of Japanese skin care because I do like to keep my skin fair - not necessarily lightening, but keeping freckles down to a dull roar. However, I am poor.
ModernGraceKelly ModernGraceKelly 7 years
I think we all need to kick it in high gear. It's all about prevention, and we shouldn't wait until something happens with our skin before we start using products. I think these brands have a lot to offer, but they need to show up in more stores!
tlsgirl tlsgirl 7 years
For me it's price. I used to use Shiseido but it was just too expensive to keep using, even though it worked well. Right now I use Cetaphil for $4/bar and it works just as well, so I'll stick with that.
Shebelle Shebelle 7 years
I've heard that Shu will be pulled in Europe too. I was just on holidays in Amsterdam (where I used to live) and went to my old Shu Uemura store and all the cosmetics were on sale. The saleslady told me that Shu decided to pull from the Netherlands at least and close their stores. The only good thing about this was that I got a bunch of left-over Shu cosmetics really cheap.
Rosay77 Rosay77 7 years
I don't understand why most Americans are not partial to Japanese skincare. I think that Shiseido, Shu Uemura, and SK-II are great brands and those are the ones I usually buy. They work well and I don't mind the extra steps because they exist for a reason. I find that women in other countries usually have better skin than American women and now I know why.
brilliance13 brilliance13 7 years
the focus of most Asian brands is skin lightening. and unfortunately in the US we are still focused on how being "tan" looks healthy. I think that has something to do with the uptake of certain products... I've found that Shu or shiseido... even SKII aren't as readily available so in turn not a popularized as most American brands.
LightningBug LightningBug 7 years
I love that you're asking this question, I was just thinking about this. It maybe different marketing strategies in the U.S, but in talking to various women of all different ages and groups, I think it may come down to two things. I find that many women in the U.S either don't take as much interest in their personal skin care as they should, or they don't want to be considered "that girl". You know the stereotypical girly girl who only cares about how she looks. If they buy skincare products, they are a generic brand off a drugstore shelf (not that there's anything wrong with that). I've talked to women who will literally say "Oh I'm not into that kinda stuff" and I wanna say " you mean taking care of yourself?" It may seem like it's an "intimidation factor" with these high end brands (and in some cases it may be) but from where I'm standing it's a "How do other people perceive me factor". In the U.S I think we focus more on how other people see us than how we see ourselves. In today's economy many women don't want to be seen as the woman who "wasted" money on something like moisturizer, even though it can be very important health wise. I was really excited when I saw Bella' s post on Sammy the Skin cell. I love the way we are now teaching future women (and men) to take proper care of their skin. Good skin care is essential and vital, it's great to start early. These are great brands, if you can afford them, but I think there's an underlying issue as to why these more "fancy" brands aren't as popular in the U.S.
ladyv ladyv 7 years
I just came back from Japan, and I was wondering the exact same thing. I work in video, and my Japanese makeup artist used about 6 different face products on me before she even got to the makeup! I think American women tend to look for "cure-alls" and products that do multiple things, while perhaps the Japanese market is more specialized? I'm really sad about Shu, I was just getting into their products here when they pulled them. Still available online, at least!
hazelberry hazelberry 7 years
Maybe in the US women not as much of a "brand chasers" than in Europe when it comes to cosmetics. Or maybe the selection here is just so big, and those European/Japanase cosmetics are pretty expensive, so women go for the less expensive stuff?
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