A number of the larger domestic and international players are investing in speciality stores in an attempt to increase sales and customer loyalty, according to Asia Pulse news service. Brand awareness and consumer loyalty Shiseido, one of Japan's biggest cosmetics companies is said to be releasing its first major brand for specialty shops in ten years. It will also embark on a customer loyalty scheme in an attempt to increase repeat business. The company has also recently announced its plans to concentrate its energies on the cosmetics business and will be retiring from the world of fashion and accessories, which up until this point has been handled by its Ginza subsidiary. Founded in 1975, the subsidiary currently operates 21 stores, 18 of which will be closed before the end of the 2008 fiscal year. The move is part of a wider three year structural reform project that Shiseido is implementing this year in order to become a 'global player that is representative of Asia with its origins in Japan'. Two other companies that are following Shiseido's lead include Kanebo Cosmetics and Procter and Gamble Japan. Kanebo Cosmetics began certifying specialty shops that excel in services and sales. The company plans to install skin analysis systems to enable the personalisation of beauty products to the certified stores. In addition Procter & Gamble Japan is said to have set up a new sales support system for speciality shops and introduced a team of employees who help train such stores in how to counsel customers. Personalised service In an increasingly competitive environment, beauty companies are looking for ways to personalise their products and services. Companies hope that with a focus on specialty beauty stores, where a consumer can receive focused attention and advice on their skin, will help increase the recognition of their brands and with it brand loyalty.