Shu Uemura was an internationally renowned Japanese makeup artist and the founder of the famous cosmetics line of the same name. Shu Uemura's interest in makeup artistry began as a teenager as he was recovering from a severe illness (Shilling, 2008). He entered the world of film makeup in 1957 working as a makeup artist for the film "Joe butterfly" (Associated Press, 2008). Shu Uemura left Japan and moved to the United States so that he could break into the film and television makeup business. He became one of the most famous makeup artists in Hollywood. It was the year 1960 when Shu Uemura developed and launched his first cosmetics product (Associated Press, 2008).
History of Shu Uemura Cosmetics
The inspiration for Uemura's first product came from working with Hollywood actresses and actors. Often, actors and actresses had to change makeup several times a day. The cleansers that they used at the time were harsh and left their skin rough and damaged. Uemura noticed that it was more difficult to create beauty from damaged skin than from healthy skin. He decided to develop a line of products that would not damage the skin.
His first product was a cleansing oil that left the skin cleaner than soap and which also moisturized the skin. This revolutionary new product solved many problems for actors and actresses that had to change their makeup several times a day. Uemura's product works very well and is still one of the most popular selling products in Japan. The philosophy of Uemura's product line placed the health of this can over other aspects of the cosmetic lines. The most important aspect of this philosophy is that he felt one should enhance the beauty of the skin through improving it, rather than creating an appearance of outward beauty through the use of heavy cosmetics that further damaged the skin (Associated Press, 2008).
. This philosophy of placing the health of the skin and enhancing than natural beauty rather than trying to cover up mistakes still remains at the forefront of the company. Uemura later returned to Japan and opened the Shu Uemura Makeup School (Masters, 2008). Uemura taught his techniques and philosophy at his school. During the boom of the Japanese economy Uemura opened his first boutique store in Tokyo. After this time Shu Uemura cosmetics became a force in both the domestic Japanese, and international markets for beauty products.
Shu Uemura cosmetics soon had stores in Paris, New York, a London, Hong Kong, in many other outlets in Japan (Masters, 2008). The company has expanded its product line to include hair Products, lifestyle products, fake eyelashes, perfume, and a specialty line of Photo Credit: http://fashiontribes.typepad.com/main/2006/05/limited_edition.html handmade makeup brushes.
However, the companies is still best known for its famous cleansing oil. Shu Uemura became known for high end products and catered to the lifestyles of the rich and famous. The company's products can be considered a cultural force rather than just another cosmetic on the market. Uemura was a trendsetter in both his philosophy and in the product lines that he developed.
After Uemura's death at the age of 79 in 2007, his company continues to promote the philosophy and education that was the founders' legacy. Shu Uemura Cosmetics has products featured in many high-end makeup and fashion magazines. They continue to develop new lines while still keeping with their founder's philosophy. The following will explore their primary and secondary markets, with a focus on their most famous makeup remover. It will explore the marketing plan for Shu Uemura cosmetics.
Market Analysis and Segmentation
Currently, Shu Uemura cosmetics is a subsidiary at of L'Oreal SA. Their main facility in office is still in Tokyo. Primarily, the company is a Japanese Company and its primary target market is Asian. However, its association with Hollywood also gives it a strong U.S. presence. The company was able to leverage its early establishment and associations with the rich and famous to give it the proceeds that it needed to open up opportunities in the fashion capitals of the world. Uemura first broke into the industry by directly entering into alignment with that business segment. This allowed it to gain solid footing in the upper end market. It was never associated with a lower priced, more common demographic.
Uemura's initial launch his product lines allowed to enter the upper end market and become known as a product of professionals and those in the film trade. Uemura's ability to gain a position as a makeup artist for Hollywood was a key factor that put him in the position to establish a reputation in the industry.
This establishment as an exquisite artist in the film industry was a key factor that allowed him to launch his cosmetic line by first marketing to the same audience.
The very first demographic group that Uemura catered to was that of the wealthy, artistic class. This was a key factor in his success at continuing to market to this upper class segment. At that time, as with today, if Hollywood was wearing it or doing it, it soon caught on with the rest of the public. Uemura was able to establish an association with this class of customers from the very beginning using his own reputation to leverage access to this highly desirable target demographic. Once he was into this demographic, the rest simply fell into place. Shu Uemura's market began with an elite group of people that were highly influential on the rest of the country and on the rest of the world. The first product sold and developed by Shu Uemura arose from a need that was identified for a specific group of people. These people were professionals and depended on cosmetics and reliable products.
The first Shu Uemura product was designed to meet the needs of professional makeup designers and actors and actresses in the glamorous world of Hollywood.
Photo Credit: Nathan Bush at http://www.dailymakeover.com/blogs/fashion-week/2009/09/woodstock-waves-at-vivienne-tam.html
This market was small, by comparison with the potential market for the product, but this market was highly influential on the rest of society. Everyone watched Hollywood to see what they were wearing, how they were acting, and what makeup they use. Hollywood set the tone for much of society. Entry into this market of highly influential people was an excellent strategic move by Shu Uemura to set the standard for his product as high priced and as a product that carried prestige.
Shu Uemura's market entry with a single product that was high quality and that solved the problem for this elite group of people set high standards and high expectations for the rest of the products that the company would develop, and for the products that they still do. Their products are designed for professionals, but many others use them as well. Shu Uemura cleansing oils and other products are still used by professionals and by actors and actresses in their professional line of work. This group represents a small, but important part of the market segmentation to which Shu Uemura caters.
Shu Uemura provides professional discounts for those in the industry who use and promote their products. This promotional strategy has two important effects. First, being used by professionals sets the standard in other market segments that the product is high quality. If professionals use it, then it is considered superior to other products that are found on the consumer market.
This allows them to extract a higher price on the consumer market because they are selling consumers a professional grade product. Its continued association with Hollywood and professionals also gives a lot of free advertising and exposure. It allows the company to attend Hollywood events and to be associated with society's elite. Their association with this group transfers to their products as well.
One of the most interesting questions about this marketing strategy in its development is whether it was by accident, or whether it was Shu Uemura's intention all along. His desire to get a job with Hollywood was the first step to his lifelong association with Hollywood's rich and famous. This association would act as a springboard for the development and spread of as products in a global market. His first and most important market segment was the Hollywood elite and those who made associated with.
The U.S. Market
The establishment of the U.S. market for Shu Uemura arose from a natural association with Hollywood glamour. Shu Uemura established itself as a brand that was associated with fame and fortune. It began on the glamour circuit and it remains the brand that is high in the fashion industry. The fashion industry plays an important role in establishing U.S. brands and brand identity. Any brand that is identified with Hollywood or the fashion industry will naturally filter down into the ranks of the average consumer. Shu Uemura's pricing scheme allows it to remain in category of…