How Shiseido makes makeup

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Shiseido Human skin color Cosmetics

Katsunori Yoshida, executive vice president of Shiseido’s Americas Innovation Center (third from the left) at the AIC ribbon cutting. Also pictured: Marc Rey, president & CEO of Shiseido Americas (left), Masahiko Uotani, president & group CEO of Shiseido, and Yoichi Shimatani, chief research & development officer of Shiseido (right).
Katsunori Yoshida, executive vice president of Shiseido’s Americas Innovation Center (third from the left) at the AIC ribbon cutting. Also pictured: Marc Rey, president & CEO of Shiseido Americas (left), Masahiko Uotani, president & group CEO of Shiseido, and Yoichi Shimatani, chief research & development officer of Shiseido (right).
Katsunori Yoshida, executive vice president of Shiseido’s newly operational Americas Innovation Center, talked with Cosmetics Design about how the company innovates, what differentiates brands and regions, and the forthcoming cosmetic that will revolutionize beauty.

Katsunori also shared some insight into his hiring plans to fully staff the new East Windsor New Jersey–based facility.

Places and names

Some solutions to come out of Shiseido R&D are universal and meet consumer needs regardless of region or beauty trends, says Katsunori. For instance, Ultimune, launched in 2014, is skincare meant to upregulate the skin’s natural immune function and is meant for consumers around the world.

Katsunori tells Cosmetics Design that many product solutions in the global beauty marketplace can be universal and that basic skin care is the best example. At the same time, he acknowledges that consumers in local markets have particular needs and tastes.

Color cosmetics and sun care, he tells Cosmetics Design, necessarily differ by region because of variations in regulations, global variances in UV light, and cultural beauty trends. 

Shiseido makes its eponymous prestige products as well as many other brands such as NARS, bareMinerals, d program, and Maquillage. Katsunori explains that the company does share basic product technology across brands and that each brand benefits from Shiseido’s shared global R&D knowledge.

Beyond that, however it’s consumer expectations and marketing knowhow that differentiates product from brand to brand.

Innovation supply chain

The company has a consumer insights network on the ground in cities around the globe. Since 2008, Shiseido has visited 2 or 3 cities each year to gather data on regional particularities like sebum level, shades of skin color, and skin moisture level, as well as consumer preferences regarding product fragrance and application finish. 

Shiseido’s team also visits consumers at home to understand their personal care and beauty routines. And, researchers make observations about each local cosmetics market place too, Katsunori tells Cosmetics Design.

Researchers from each of the company’s global R&D facilities help gather the consumer insights. Clinical measurements as well as anecdotal feedback and video files of the home visits are compiled into a database that all of Shiseido’s R&D staff and cosmetics chemists have access to—and draw inspiration from—when developing product technologies.

Early on in this initiative, Shiseido hit upon a correlation that’s good news for the industry. The region where chemists found that consumers have the brightest and clearest skin—Korea—is also the region where consumers use the most products in their daily care routines.

What’s possible

Shiseido researchers are at work on what Katsunori describes as a “complex foundation technology.”

At the Americas Innovation Center, he has brought together the company’s best powder chemist from Japan and a top emulsion researcher from the States. Because, Katsunori says, of regional climate differences like high humidity in Japan, pressed powder foundation technology there is very good, while emulsion-style foundation is a US specialty.   

The scientists are working on “a combination of liquid and power tech”​ that will be a category changer. When such a product will hit the market isn’t clear. But the Shiseido R&D team works fast and is growing quickly.

Katsunori tells Cosmetics Design that he was focused on hiring every day of the past year. When he took EVP role at the Center in April 2015, there were fourteen R&D staff. Today there are thirty, and by 2020, fifty R&D professionals will work at the Americas Innovation Center. Katsunori believes the facility’s location will be helpful for meeting this hiring objective, as New Jersey is a good place to find experienced personal care and cosmetic chemists.

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