If you’re interested in organic cosmetics, a visit to Cosmekitchen (Mash Beauty Lab) is practically mandatory. It is Japan’s biggest organic beauty store chain: the first Cosmekitchen store opened in 2004 and the company currently operates 30 outlets across Japan. The majority of the stores are in the Kanto area on Honshu island.
Although the organic beauty market in Japan is growing constantly, I think it is still primarily an urban trend – I noticed that Cosmekitchen stores seem to be mostly located in larger cities. The retailer’s outlets are usually shop-in-shop areas that are based in department stores; in Tokyo, for example, five of the Cosmekitchens are situated in outlets of the Lumine department store chain.
There is a Japanese store chain which is even more focused on the trend aspect of FMCG retail than @cosme. RanKingRanQueen sells cosmetics, confectionery, beverages and books strictly according to what the three top-sellers are in each category. There are four RanKingRanQueen stores in Japan; two in Tokyo, one in Yokohama and one store in Osaka.
The stores are located in busy train stations since this is where commuter traffic and especially the trend-driven younger consumers (the main target demographic of the store chain!) congregate. I visited the RanKingRanQueen store in Yokohama – it’s located in Azamino station (one of the stops on the Tokyu Den-en-toshi line from Shibuya) directly opposite the main ticket gates.
On the list of my must-see stores in Tokyo was an intriguing-sounding shop in the Western parts of the city: Hansel & Gretel (yes, the store is indeed named after the Grimm Brothers’ famous fairy tale!) is located in the affluent suburb of Seijo.
I was eager to see the stores of @cosme, a Japanese beauty chain with a retail concept that is strongly driven by social media network. The @cosme approach is an ingenious merger of online and offline retail.
[EDIT 30/01/2018: @cosme finally has an English-language version of the website! Check out: https://www.cosme.com/en; it’s just a part of @cosme’s huge Japanese language database but still, yay!
EDIT 24/01/2020: A couple of weeks ago @cosme opened a massive multi-storey outlet in Harajuku, opposite the Omotesando entrance of Harajuku JR station. This new store is stupendous – it makes all other @cosme outlets in Tokyo look boring and even dated; so if you’re in Harajuku or Omotesando area, do yourself a favour and visit it!]
@cosme is Japan’s largest cosmetics online store and it is also the country’s biggest virtual beauty community. The company’s websites are www.cosme.com and www.cosme.net so every Japanese Internet user who searches for anything to do with cosmetics ends up at @cosme sooner or later. @cosme’s main target group are consumers aged 16-25 which means that the website and its online community are hugely influential in the trend-driven teen and young adult consumer demographic in Japan.
@cosme’s very successful retail venture actually started with a simple review website: cosme.net was launched in 1999 and became popular very quickly. In 2001, the company behind @cosme (marketing agency iStyle), launched online store cosme.com. @cosme sells an extensive range of Japanese, Asian and Western mass market, masstige and premium brands. Whether you are looking for a Japanese face mask, a Korean eyelash lotion or Chanel’s latest whitening face serum, it is all available on @cosme.
This week I attended CosmeTokyo, Japan’s most important cosmetics trade show. The fair took place from 20th to 22nd October in Tokyo’s Big Sight exhibition center, which is located near Tokyo Bay. CosmeTokyo 2014 was the third edition of the show; it was held in conjunction with CosmeTech, a trade fair for ingredients, packaging, OEM manufacturing and so on. A total of 542 exhibitors from 36 countries attended the two shows and over the three days of CosmeTokyo/CosmeTech, there were 20,754 trade visitors.
Whilst browsing through the beauty department of my local Seiyu (a Japanese store chain which belongs to US retailer Walwart) I came across an interesting-looking beauty product.
The entire lettering on the pack was in Japanese, so I do what I always do in these cases: look for the website of brand/manufacturer, Google it, run the page through Translate and then try and make sense of the results.
From the drawings on the side of the pack it looked like a face oil or facial essence and that is exactly what it was: a rice bran face oil. The manufacturer is Tonoike Shuzoten; much to my surprise, the company is a traditional Sake brewery rather than a cosmetics manufacturer.
I arrived in Tokyo four days ago. It is my first visit since 2007 and I am happy to state that I love the city as much as ever! Time is flying and I have already crossed off quite a few items on my rather long list of places and stores that I wanted to see. However, there is still so much to do! Tomorrow CosmeTokyo trade show begins and at the end of next week I am going to Gifu province for a couple of days and a few days after that I’m off to Taipei; so every day counts!
Today I spent the day in Omotesando neighbourhood near Harajuku; one of the centers of Tokyo’s famously shrill teen culture. Besides visiting the Ota Memorial Museum of Art (wonderful ukiyo-e [traditional Japanese wood block prints], a visit is highly recommended!), I wanted to check out Sincere Garden, a beauty salon which, according to Google/Google Translate, is one of the few Tokyo stockists of Japanese organic brand Quon.