Last year when Procter & Gamble moved its global skin care business unit to Singapore from Cincinnati, the beauty industry immediately perked up. And when the beauty giant subsequently named Deb Henretta as head of its global beauty business (her former role was overseeing P&G’s entire Asian portfolio) Deb cited the goal of bringing much of the passion and innovation seen in Asian beauty to the U.S.
P&G’s behavior reflects an overall trend where the West is taking cues from the East regarding beauty, especially skin care. Indeed, Asian-born brightening and lightening products are the fastest growing sector of the U.S. skin care market, according to the NPD Group, and grew double that of the overall skin care market in 2012, the latter of which saw a 14 percent increase in department stores in 2012. Also proving the trend is hitting home, dollar share of brightening products have almost doubled since 2008; while the dollar volume of BB Creams quadrupled from January to December with annual sales of $37 million. Coupled with the continuous rise of BB creams, more and more companies are looking to the Asian market to figure out what might be the next major breakthrough in the beauty industry.
“Right now, Americans are really open to Eastern products,” said Jeff Holland, General Manager of the Japanese-based Boscia skin care. “Ten years ago, you heard a lot about French and Swiss skincare, but the truth is, the Japanese [in particular] have always had very high levels of quality in skincare. Asian women [overall are known for their beautiful skin] and they really do know their skincare…they spend a lot of money on it,” he said.
The biggest Asian trend heading to U.S shores are items with color correcting claims (not just Color Corrector creams). The number of items with these claims have more than doubled since 2008, according to NPD. CC creams, the most popular of these items, were first created in Japan as a lightweight, revamped version of the BB cream. Like BB creams, CC creams provide SPF coverage and moisture, but certain versions can be less greasy than their predecessor.
Olay is the first American company to jump on this trend, having just introduced their line of Olay CC Cream – Total Effects Tone Correcting Moisturizer with Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 15. Chanel, which launched its CC cream in the Asian marketplace, has brought its version here; other CC creams to be on the lookout for are from Amore Pacific, which patented its formula; Hard Candy; Rachel K; iFiona and Boscia.
But CC creams are just the beginning in terms of the wave of products being influenced by the Asian market. Other products to look out for are acne and anti-aging devices, as well as handheld misting devices, used to deliver intense hydration to the skin.
“Light devices that either address anti-aging or acne control [are going to be big]. There are also wonderful handheld misting devices that deliver Nano particles of hydration to the skin. It’s basically the automated version of an Evian face spray,” said Jeff from Boscia, who also attributes the facial cleansing oil trend to its Japanese roots.
For those skeptical about the profound impact that the Asian market can and has had on the U.S. beauty industry, Euromonitor International estimates that within the next two years Asia will account for 28 percent of the global beauty market, solidifying it as a dominant force within the industry.
And American companies aren’t standing idle while this shift is occurring. Aside from bringing Asian-inspired products such as brightening lotions, BB and CC creams to their American home base, companies are conversely extending themselves into the Asian beauty stratosphere. For example, The Estée Lauder Companies Inc. announced last year the birth of Osiao, their first ever skin care/cosmetics line specifically formulated for Asian skin.