Bringing prestigious products to discerning women across Southeast Asia
Meticulous and dedicated, the Japanese are legendary craftsmen who strive for perfection. While numerous Japanese products have gained domestic recognition, in recent years, social media and growing tourist numbers have enabled foreigners to gain a better understanding of quality Japanese products and traditional techniques that have yet to make it to their own shores.
Shoichi Kobayashi, CEO of Albion Co. Ltd., a leading Japanese manufacturer of premium cosmetics, headquartered in Ginza, Tokyo, explains, “We celebrated our sixtieth anniversary last year and have experienced tremendous growth recently. Last year alone, with increasing numbers of tourists from Southeast Asia and China, our sales grew by nine billion Yen (USD 79 million)”.
Albion’s iconic products include ‘Milk’, ‘Chiffon’ (foundation), ‘Herbal Oil’, ‘La Poudre’ (pressed powder) and ‘Skin Conditioner’, a popular skin lotion sold since 1974.
In Southeast Asia, the luxury cosmetics brand has two branches in Singapore and two in Malaysia.
“Our main priority was to concentrate on the Japanese market and to be the leading company in all major department stores before reaching out to Southeast Asia,” says Kobayashi.
Currently, Albion holds the number one position in six out of the eight major department stores in Japan and is ranked second in the remaining two stores.
“Since accomplishing our goal of becoming a leader in Japan, we are now focusing on key markets in Southeast Asia,” says Kobayashi.
The company’s approach to product placement lies in its commitment to showcasing products in luxury and high-end department stores and shops in Japan. This is the same approach Kobayashi is driving across Asia.
“In order to engage with new customers, we plan to significantly expand our network across Asia and ensure our products are available in high-end stores across the region”, says Kobayashi.
The company’s own lifestyle branded stores, ‘Albion Dresser’ showcase the company’s products alongside fashionable accessories.
“Our goal is to open between 100-150 such stores in Japan and we plan to open our first ‘Albion Dresser’ store in Southeast Asia in the next couple of years,” Kobayashi explains.
As a leading brand, Albion only uses superior ingredients in its products.
“I travel the world seeking original ingredients and quality raw materials to use in Albion products”, Kobayashi states proudly. “In Sri Lanka, we established the ‘Institute of Traditional Plants’ in collaboration with Tokyo University of Agriculture, at which I am a visiting professor, to contribute to the development of the country and the industry there”.
In Japan, the company cultivates forty five types of plants at a 27,000 square meter company owned farm. Albion also sources ingredients from seven locations across Japan, including Sea Salt from the sea of Okhotsk in the western Pacific Ocean.
“Albion products are highly-valued by the medical and academic communities, however with the shrinking Japanese population, it is important for us as a company to reach out to Southeast Asian markets”, concludes Kobayashi. “We have been successful in Japan, and as Japanese women have similar tastes to women from Southeast Asia; these new markets will be our focus in the future. We look forward to bringing our prestigious products to discerning women across the region.”