Thursday, February 26, 2009

Timeless Treasure: Shiseido

Shiseido Company, Limited is a 137 year old timeless treasure founded in Tokyo by Yushin Fukuhara (a former pharmacist). The original objective of this family owned company was to be Japan's first western-style pharmacy. The company began to dabble in cosmetics during the transition of the japanese feminine appearance; while some women still wore the ancient makeup (white faces and stylized eyebrows) many were making the transition to the look of western women (the way we wear makeup as Americans).

Shiseido expanded the scope of its business by offering franchise opportunities outside of the normal reach of the company. Its early success was due largely to customer loyalty which was encouraged by high quality products and personalized service. Similar to the way the Tokyo store was tailored to a specific market, the franchises were also. The franchise stores also began to offer mail-order services. The company had such a solid foundation that it was not rocked by World Wars or Depression.

Overtime, of course, the company image became dated. The loyal customers grew old and the new youthful generation of consumers were not wowed by the Shiseido brand. The response was to diversify the brand and its stores. While some stores carried cosmetics, other stores carried youth fashions, home goods, or fitness aids. The company also introduced a line tailored to the needs of its older customers. Diversification has proven to be the key to this company's staying power because it can target several markets simultaneously.

This multi-faceted company has been global for decades and continues to hold a top spot among international cosmetic companies. I'm sure this company will survive for centuries to come.


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