Fujifilm crosses into cosmetics market
By Chu Meng
Fujifilm China Investment, the Japan-based photographic and imaging company, said it plans to launch a high-end cosmetics line in China to tap what it regards to be the world’s biggest market.
“Astalift,” Fuji’s first cosmetics line, had its initial release conference in Shanghai on Monday. China is the first overseas market for the Astalift brand due to the country’s tremendous growth potential, said Fuji China president Takashi Yokota.
Fujifilm, a unit of Fujifilm Holdings Corporation, decided to move into cosmetics because it anticipated the market for camera film will shrink as consumers shift to digital cameras. Entering the Chinese cosmetics market is part of a plan to diversify its business territories after transferring out from the fading traditional consumer film industry.
With its own research and development force, Fujifilm China, rival to American competitor Kodak, opened a trial online store on Taobao.com as early as last September. Its products include liquid soap, facial lotion, make-up remover and essence, priced between 240 and 770 yuan.
However, sales records have shown weak performance.
President Yokota promised to enhance promotion efforts this year and open 50 direct chain stores or counters. Fujifilm has also opened a direct-management online store, catering to the huge number of young Chinese online shoppers under Fujifilm’s official website.
China is not Fujifilm’s first test field for cosmetics. In 2006, Fujifilm introduced its Astalift product line to the Japanese market. So far it has 4,000 chain counters in Japan.
Cosmetic product development has a lot in common with film development, Yoshisada Nakamura, senior research manager at Fujifilm, said at the press conference.
He explained that “one of the most popular and important cosmetic substances, collagen, is one of Fujifilm’s essential ingredients in film production. We actually have 70 years of experience producing collagen, and that knowledge ensures the maturity of our end products.”
Xiao Shen, a professor from the Economic School of Peking University, said that while Fujifilm has transferred is camera business from film to digital, it is looking to make its main profits in Medical and Life Science Systems, Graphic Systems, Engineering Photofinishing Products and Motion Picture Films.
“Whether it can pose a threat to conventional Japanese cosmetics manufactures such as Shiseido, Kanebo and Kose is unknown, because they all have had a solid market share in China for years,” he said.