COSMETICS TOPS SPENDING ON WOMEN'S APPAREL FOR FIRST TIME EVER IN JAPAN

Cosmetics outsell apparel in Japan

The long-running shift in the Japanese consumer market has lead to a latest survey indicating that Japanese spent more on cosmetics than women's clothing for the first time ever last year.

In 2017, households consisting two or more people spent 26,806 yen ($238) on cosmetics between January-November, edging out the 26,803 yen spent on women's clothing, according to a recent income and expenditure survey by the Statistics Bureau.

Saviour of Japan’s department stores

The Japan Department Stores Association reported a 32nd consecutive month of sales increases for cosmetics for November. By contrast, sales of women's apparel fell on the year for 22 straight months to August 2017.

Back in 1990 when Japan was still bubbling, annual spending on women's apparel stood far higher at 63,500 yen - as even expensive clothing attracted buyers. However back then, less than 30,000 yen was forked out on cosmetics.

Apparel in three decades of decline

Ever since, spending on women's apparel steadily declined as consumers grew more frugal, and rise of fast fashion also exacerbated the trend. The annual supply volume in the Japanese apparel market has actually doubled from 1990 to 3.7 billion items, but the recent sales figure of 9 trillion yen pales in comparison to 15 trillion yen in that year.

Major apparel companies downsized their operations in recent years. TSI Holdings and World slashed their brand lineups in 2015. Sanyo Shokai in 2016 discontinued the women's line of Bianca Epoca, among other things.

‘Gray economy’ boosts sales

Meanwhile, the cosmetics industry has increased the number of anti-aging products to capture demand from the graying population. Pola have rolled out anti-winkle products containing ingredients acknowledged by the health ministry to be effective. And these products have become popular in part by openly touting the benefits of fighting wrinkles with official recognition.

The industry has also benefited from the growing number of foreign visitors with Japanese cosmetics topping their shopping list. Kose is on track to securing five consecutive years of record net profits for fiscal 2017, and Shiseido is gearing up to build a domestic plant for the first time in 36 years. 

Source: Nikkei Asia Review

 

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