The trend in the last year or so in Japan has been for consumers to continue to buy but to purchase in a lower price bracket than they would have done before the impact of the global recession started to affect their incomes. Hence the popularity of cut-price brands such as Uniqlo and H&M in Japan.
But with the resilience of the more well-off sector at home, coupled with the emergence of a wealthy consumer base in other Asian countries - notably China - some of Japan's cosmetics firms are devising new products that meet that demand for high-end products.
Kanebo Cosmetics is to strengthen its portfolio in the domestic market and across Asia with the launch on November 19 of the new Impress Granmula range, a super-prestige skincare collection with items that start at Y20,000 (€178.59) and rise very quickly to Y120,000 (€1,071.56).
"Kanebo Cosmetics is reinforcing its global prestige strategy with a strong emphasis on markets in Asia, Europe and the U.S.," the company said in a statement. The firm's strategy in Asia and China focuses on its leading prestige brands, Impress skincare and Lunasol makeup.
And those products are finding a market, studies reveal. With the repercussions of the financial crisis fading, the number of people in the world identified as being affluent increased more than 17 percent in 2009, while a report by Euromonitor indicates that the market for prestige cosmetics grew 14 percent globally between 2004 and 2009 but at a much faster rate - 52 percent - in Asia in the same period.
The new range of Granmula - the name is a combination of "grand" and "formula" - has been formulated with a range of active ingredients, which have been developed over a period of more than a decade by Kanebo. The ingredients include honeysuckle extract, soy milk ferment filtrate, seaweed and gamma-aminobutyric acid.
The result is a skincare range that improves firmness, resilience, clarity, moisture and texture, the company says, that is overlaid with a fresh fragrance devised from more than 20 floral and tree essences.
Other firms have also recognized the importance of high-end products in emerging Asian markets, with the Shiseido Group - Japan's largest cosmetics manufacturer - releasing its new line of Future Solution LX premium skincare items in March.
Tokyo-based Kose Corp. launched its new Addiction brand in July, coinciding with the company opening its first dedicated cosmetics store in Beijing, while Nippon Menard Cosmetic Co. released its Authent Cream in late 2009, a skincare product that uses stem cell technology and a range of unique ingredients and retails in Europe for €800.