Beauty Fashion sat down with Shiseido Cosmetics America’s CEO, Heidi Manheimer, to discuss the evolution of Shiseido Co., Ltd. since its founding in 1872 as Japan’s first Western-style pharmacy, and what initiatives it will undertake to commemorate its 140th anniversary.
Beauty Fashion: Have the fundamental principles on which Shiseido was founded changed to be relevant in today’s marketplace and if so, how?
: The basic, fundamental principles of Shiseido remain as relevant today as they were when the company was founded in 1872. Of course, as we’ve progressed, we’ve adapted the way we make them happen and how we portray them to our partners and our consumers. Our mission is to cultivate genuine, meaningful relationships with people, to create beauty and wellness.
We also continue to focus on omotenashi—the spirit of hospitality and welcoming—which is at the core of our brand and of the Japanese culture and its people. We are about giving our customers an authentic experience at the counter and great service.
BF: As Shiseido evolved from its pharmaceutical-based origins, how has it influenced the company’s emphasis on scientific research in its product development?
: Our origins as a pharmacy 140 years ago have definitely continued to influence Shiseido’s commitment to research and development. We spend considerable time, energy and resources on R&D. Globally; we have ten R&D facilities—three in Japan, one in China, one in Thailand, two in the US (East Windsor, New Jersey and Geneva, New York) and three in Europe.
BF: The name Shiseido translates to “Praise the virtues of the great Earth, which nurtures new life and brings forth new values.” How do you believe that is compatible with today’s growth of environmentally friendly products and sustainability initiatives?
: As you can see from our name, giving back to the environment has been important since the founding of Shiseido. From a global perspective, Shiseido’s firm commitment of giving back to the environment has four main tenets. First, we consider the environment by using natural resources and energy with great care. Second, we promote the development and application of new technologies that don’t place a burden on the environment. Third, we aim to raise the level of employee awareness toward environmental protection. And, finally, we endeavor to work closely with local communities and society as we practice our social responsibility.
Limited-edition Zen Secret Bloom
BF: As Shiseido celebrates its 140th anniversary, what do you see as the strengths of the US company?
: Our biggest and most significant strength is our people. We have a very diverse, dedicated, committed and highly knowledgeable team. We also have very impressive longevity. Over 20% of our employees have more than ten years of service―inclusive of new brands and new businesses—which is a pretty significant number. Clearly, this, along with our product technology, has been the driving force of our success.
What is worth noting at Shiseido is the power of our people, which can be seen through the strength of the relationships between our Beauty Consultants and our customers. After 9/11, we were one of the few businesses that continued to grow, and it was really based on the sincerity of the relationships between our Beauty Consultants and their customers. They called to check on each other, not to sell something. That really shows you what we are about.
BF: Moving forward, are there areas of the company that you want to expand?
: We are always looking for new ways to get our brand message out and tell our story in new ways, whether it’s distribution or staying on top of where people are shopping. Typically, the Shiseido customer is shopping everywhere. Our focus right now is on emerging trends and possibilities within the digital space.
Limited-edition Shiseido Powder with the camellia imprint
We still are a company that is about face-to-face relationships and service—our Beauty Consultants and department stores as well as boutiques across the country will always be a very important part of our business. In addition, we have seen tremendous growth in e-commerce both in our retail partners and on our own Web site. Yet, in no way has it taken away from our business in-store.
Shiseido’s iconic Eudermine lotion in a limited-edition version of the original presentation
BF: During the anniversary year, will there be special events and other ways to recognize this milestone?
: In recognition of our 140th anniversary, Hisayuki Suekawa, who became our Global President last year, has put forth an initiative to spread our corporate mission and values world-wide and to live them day in and day out. Across all brands, we will be reinforcing these founding principles. Our mission is to cultivate relationships with people, to appreciate genuine, meaningful values and to create beauty and wellness. Our values are in diversity, strength; in challenge, growth; in heritage, excellence. Ultimately, we want to achieve our mission in the right way towards our consumers, our business partners, our shareholders, our employees and toward society and the environment. To encourage action, we held town hall meetings in March for all employees and field personnel.
We also are paying homage to our heritage by embracing a corporate day of service for all employees. We would like all Shiseido employees to take one day to volunteer their time to a charitable organization. This effort will be supported through digital and social media campaigns, which will promote the employees’ efforts and encourage consumers and the general public to make their own pledge of how they can give back to society.
Shiseido has created a beautiful culture, and our link to the future is very much a part of that heritage. Our charities and the endeavors of our mission support the health and beauty of all women. The company will promote environmental activities to ensure that people around the world are beautiful.
We will celebrate the 140th anniversary in-store and on e-commerce by introducing three special, limited-edition items. We are bringing back the original packaging of our iconic Eudermine lotion, which was the first product we launched in 1897 and is still relevant today. Eudermine remains one of our top selling products across the world. A second product, Zen Secret Bloom, is born from the iconic Zen franchise of fragrances Shiseido launched many years ago. And, additionally, we are featuring a powder compact created by Dick Page [Shiseido’s Artistic Director] with the camellia, our symbol, emblazed in the design of the powder. Another prong of our anniversary celebration is that we will have a special 140th anniversary logo tagged on all of our national advertising campaigns. BF