Cracking Asia from a Western brand’s point of view has long been known to be difficult – from ever-changing regulations to translating a brand’s message in the right way. That's where consultants like Hiro Nakayama come in.
Western companies can fall at the hands of not adapting their offer to the market or translation problems, which is where Nakayama, a specialist consultant for niche fragrance brands with knowledge of the region, works to provide a smooth transition or inside understanding of how the markets work.
With a background in marketing and PR in the personal care industry and having attended classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, Hiro established ‘Project Felicia, Fragrance Globe-Trotte', to bridge the gap between U.S. and Asia based fragrance brands.
In this, the tenth edition of Cosmetics Design's 'Voice of the Industry' series, Hiro reveals how the consumer’s daily regime is completely different in each region and just because a brand is doing well in the West, 'doesn't mean they will be great in the East.'
Asia is not one country or culture
Firstly, Nakayama says that Western brands have often considered Asia to be one country or one culture and therefore encourages them to be flexible and acceptable to localization, and understand cultural nuance throughout this region.
"In reality, each country speaks different language and owns different culture," she tells this publication.
“I believe my appearance as Asian with a Japanese-American accent and attitude often breaks the ice in getting conversations going with locals – consumers, media, and industry individuals," she explains.
Hiro then points to successful launches she's worked on to date; Tallulah Jane Naturals and Nomaterra which went to market in Shanghai last summer.
"We've also been sampling products from our clients in fact, we assisted a deal for a Singapore-based fragrance brand, Code Deco with U.S. fragrance retailers last week and have several prospects on the way."
Why a fragrance focused service?
On growing up in Japan, Hiro says she realised that Asians are not used to wearing fragrances but are raised surrounded by scents like incense.
Yet, she says each country seems to have its own scent preference and there could be an opportunity for niche fragrance brands to cash in as the 'new' affluent seek unique, one of kind brands that their peers have yet to possess.
"And likewise, the waves of Asian beauty brands will be on the way to the West sooner than we notice," she concludes.
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