Market for high-end everyday items seen growing in Japan


The market for toothpastes, shampoos and other items for daily use is expanding, reflecting increased demand for high-end products and purchases for personal, rather than family, use.

Sales of toothpaste totaled ¥113.6 billion in 2014, up about 10 percent from the previous year, according to Euromonitor International Ltd., a London-based market research firm.

A survey by Daiichi Sankyo Healthcare Co. found that sales of toothpastes priced at ¥1,000 or more in fiscal 2014 scored a gain of 12.4 percent from fiscal 2012, before the consumption tax increase on April 1, 2014, while sales of toothpaste priced at ¥500 or lower decreased 1.4 percent.

An increase in the number of elderly people retaining their natural teeth has diversified demand for toothpastes, as they want not only anti-cavity products but also those with such effects as prevention of gum disease, alveolar pyorrhea and bad breath, a Daiichi Sankyo spokesman said.

Toothpaste makers are thus promoting the development and marketing of high-function products. Last October, for example, Kao Corp. released a toothpaste designed to better combat gum inflammation and bad breath in its Oure Oral series.

In the market for shampoo and body soap, products for men in their 40s, especially those concerned about thin hair or body odor, are selling strongly. Products to defeat or mask body odor include Mandam Corp.’s Lucido and Rohto Pharmaceutical Co.’s De Ou.

High-end shampoos and body soaps offering pleasing aromas or using natural elements are in strong demand among women.

Kose Corp. developed a hair care product using seaweed extracts jointly with Cocokara Fine Inc., a drugstore chain operator, and released it under the name Revirsia at selected stores last December.

Similar changes are seen in the market for air fresheners, often offered by big retailers at bargain prices to lure shoppers.

S.T. Corp. made a limited-time offer of the “Shoshuriki Premium Aroma” air freshener in March last year at a price about ¥100 more expensive than conventional products in its Shoshuriki series. After the product sold better than expected, the company added it to its regular product lineup in September.

Products with high added value have won strong demand due to a polarization in consumption, with consumers divided into those willing to purchase high-quality or highly effective products even at high prices and those preferring inexpensive products, industry officials said.

The devastating tsunami of March 2011, which instantly cleared the landscape, and the consumption tax hike have prompted consumers to “buy products of good quality even at higher prices while avoiding wasteful spending,” said Akihiko Togawa, head of S.T.’s air care business section.

The recent market trend can also be traced to an increase in the number of consumers buying everyday items for personal use.

Toothpaste, shampoo and other daily necessities used to be shared with family members. Nowadays, purchases based on individual taste are increasing, encouraging manufacturers to offer high-function products at higher prices.

“If we uncover potential demand and help consumers understand the availability of the functions they need, we can win excellent customers and allow the market to grow,” Kao President Itsuo Hama said.