Shiseido’s Burgeoning “Masstige”

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Japanese cosmetics company Shiseido is looking to reinvent its image from one of a high-end luxury brand to one of affordable quality.

Noting that the emerging middle class in China heralds a new beginning for developing countries throughout Asia, namely the beginning of a massive middle class, Shiseido is looking for ways to tap into this market while retaining it’s reputation for quality and prestige.

Dubbed “masstige,”  an amalgamation of “mass prestige” the company intends to broaden its product line, and snap up foreign companies that fit in with its new line of marketing, such as US brand Bare Escentuals, which Shiseido purchased for US$1.7 billion.[more]

“We are thinking about a totally different world, with a totally different taste and image from the Shiseido brand,” says Yasuhiko Harada, a senior Shiseido executive, to the FT.

Still, it’s a bit late to the game. Foreign cosmetics companies have already made successful inroads into China’s mass market. L’Oreal, Procter and Gamble and Unilever have all cut themselves a nice chunk of change from China’s emerging middle class, mainly by offering a luxury product at a price that even a secretary can afford.

As incomes rise, Chinese consumers want to show off their wealth, and cosmetics is one place where almost everyone can afford to splash out once in a while. The average man on the street in Beijing may not be able to afford to drive a Benz, but he can definitely find enough cash to pick up a bottle of premium face wash from L’Oreal.

It will be interesting to keep an eye on Shiseido’s new “masstige” campaign as it progresses. Here’s hoping the company hits the target they are aiming for.

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