You may not have heard of Astalift, but you will soon. The line of skin creams, which promises to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, is expanding from Asia to Europe. Its claims may not be unique, but the brand behind it is: Fujifilm.
Cosmetics, specifically anti-aging creams made from the same antioxidation technology used in preventing photos from fading, are the backbone of a brand extension which has kept Fujifilm alive in Asia, where Astalift has been available in Japan and China for the past couple of years, in a rapidly changing world where its core product, photography and film, shifted 180 degrees, leaving one major brand, the newly bankrupt Kodak, in its digital dust.
Applying its patented chemicals in new ways, with Astalift Fujifilm claims that Pico-Collagen penetrates the skin through cell gaps, working from the inside-out to restore suppleness and elasticity, and has built its Fujifilm Beauty brand around that claim, first in Asia and now coming to Europe. Using collagen in cosmetics is relatively new, but its use in preventing photographic images fading is tried and true.
Fujifilm's Astalift is based on Astaxanthin - a pink pigment found in shellfish and salmon — touted as a means to protect the skin from harmful ultra-violet sun rays and boost skin tone, now recognized by scientists as more effective in reducing ultraviolet ray damage than CoQ10 - the antioxidant co-enzyme commonly used in anti-aging products.
“Proving this Astalift product has a benefit will be the key issue. There is now a lot of research on antioxidants and we are making headway with products that make a difference, but the question with this new formulation will be whether it really has an effect," said Rachel Watson, a senior lecturer in aesthetic dermatology at Manchester University.
In the 1960’s, Fujifilm Holdings Corp. was a regional brand already playing catch-up with industry leader Eastman Kodak Co. But while Kodak let that edge slip away, Fujifilm moved from digital imaging to a diversified company with product lines ranging from electronics to healthcare.
"Both Fujifilm and Kodak knew the digital age was surging towards us. The question was, what to do about it," said CEO Shigetaka Komori to the Wall Street Journal. "The most decisive factor [for our success] was how drastically we were able to transform our businesses when digitalization occurred.” "Technologically, we already possessed diverse resources. So we thought, 'There must be ways to turn them into new businesses.'"
When Komori became president in 2000 and CEO in 2003, he restructured the business to meet the demands of a burgeoning color film market, sacrificing thousands of jobs and closing scores of factories. New business pursuits led the company into selling film to LCD-panel component suppliers, as well as forays into chemicals effectively absorbed by the body, such as an influenza medicine in development.
“Fujifilm now makes only around 1% of its revenue from photographic film, down from nearly 20% a decade ago. Its healthcare operation, which includes medical equipment, drugs and cosmetics, accounts for about 12% of revenue. Materials for flat-panel displays generate 10%,” reports the Wall Street Journal.
O the Fujifilm Beauty Facebook page, the Chinese New Year message to fans: “All FUJIFILM beauty friends! Happy new year! Wish you all the Dragon always the best! Work step by step up! All your wishes come true! Good health! Money rolling in!”
Astalift may redefine ‘picture-perfect skin,’ or not, but it’s a lesson in the Fujifilm playbook on diversification in a digital era that Kodak surely wishes it had…focused on.
Fujifilm is hoping the money keeps rolling in with Astalift, as shown in this Japanese commercial below, translated as: “1, 2, 3, align Japan three great trump card combinations: LOTION, ESSENCE, CREAM!”