The history of Shiseido is not merely a story about products and services; it is also a story of a company taking a broader perspective to also consider aspects of culture and lifestyle, and seeking always to create new value. This is the true history of Shiseido. Here we explore the path of achievement Shiseido has followed for over 140 years since its founding in 1872 as Japan’s first Western-style pharmacy.
Establishes Western-style pharmacy and launches "Shiseido"
In 1872, Arinobu Fukuhara opened Japan’s first Western-style pharmacy “Shiseido”in the Ginza district of Tokyo. Having studied Western pharmacology, Fukuhara applied his knowledge to a new business model previously unseen in Japan, and in the process established the country’s first system of separating clinic and pharmacy.
The name “Shiseido” comes from a passage in the Chinese Confucian classic Yi Jing (Book of Changes), the general meaning of which is: “How wonderful is the virtue of the earth, from which all things are born!” Thus, the company’s name embodies its resolve to create new value that will be of benefit to people in their lives.
Reorients from pharmaceuticals to cosmetics
In 1916, Shiseido spun off its cosmetics department as a separate business and opened a cosmetics shop. The shop was on the first floor of a three-story brick building, with the other floors occupied by a design department to handle the company’s graphic and other design activities, as well as laboratories dedicated to product quality and safety and conducting product development and improvement efforts.
It was here that the company began reorienting from pharmaceuticals to cosmetics creating high-quality, modern, elegant cosmetics in which it could take real pride.
Shiseido’s cosmetics business had truly begun.
Creating new value as only Shiseido can
Shiseido Co., Ltd. was launched in 1927. During this era, chain stores handling Shiseido cosmetics spread nationwide, and the company became a source not only of product and beauty–related knowledge, but also of information about the latest lifestyle options and fashions both domestically and internationally.
In 1934, the company began its “Miss Shiseido” promotional activities (the forerunner to today’s Shiseido beauty consultants)—a very “Shiseido” way of conveying value. Further, in 1937, the company launched its “Hanatsubaki-kai” (Camellia Club) membership club as a way of communicating such value from storefronts to customers.
Toward a new era
Shiseido stocks were listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange for the first time in 1949. Along with Japan’s general economic growth during this period, the company moved to revitalize both the chain-store system and the Hanatsubaki-kai membership club it had built before the war. It also greatly expanded its research and development facilities, opened the largest Shiseido beauty salon in the East, and in general took advantage of the possibilities offered by a new era of prosperity.
Expanding into the global markets in the post-war period
It was in 1957 that Shiseido first took its products to the world beyond Japan, and starting with Taiwan began establishing overseas sales companies one after another. Through these, the Shiseido beauty method became a vehicle for communicating the Japanese sense of hospitality and customer-care to the broader world.
Back in Japan, riding the increasingly fast-paced tide of economic growth, in 1961 Shiseido launched its first national makeup campaign, to promote its “Candy Tone” product line, contributing greatly to cultivating new customer segments.
Promoting new lifestyles
In 1977, Shiseido hosted the “Paris Six” fashion show to highlight the work of up-and-coming new French designers, a way of using fashion to offer new value to society.
This well illustrated that Shiseido was actively introducing new ideas on life-style.
Bringing beauty and health together in one industry
In 1989, Shiseido formally set down its “Corporate Ideals.” With its business continuing to diversify, the company sought to define its corporate orientation, asking the question, “How, and through what means, should Shiseido be of use to the world?” Amidst increasingly complex consumer lifestyles, the answer it found was to expand its business of beautifying people’s lifestyles through a comprehensive “life science” based approach unifying “beauty” and “health” .
Toward even greater globalization
1997 marked the 100th anniversary of Shiseido’s entry into the cosmetics industry. With the escalating globalization of society, the company set out to bring new value, with even more beauty and depth, to even more world regions.
Embracing CSR and environmental efforts
In 2000, Shiseido earned ISO 14001 certification for all of its domestic and overseas manufacturing plants, a recognition of their ability to conduct systematic environmental management. In an age directly confronting so many serious problems—from global-scale environmental destruction to poverty—Shiseido renewed its commitment to serious efforts to build a more sustainable society.
Further, in 2005 Shiseido announced a corporate message. In pursuit of its corporate ideal of “creating a lifestyle of beauty and culture” the company continues to embrace a variety of activities that fulfill its role as a good corporate citizen of the world.
A new Internet-based business style
In 2012, Shiseido launched its “watashi+” and “Beauty & Co.” website to utilize the far-reaching potential of the Internet to connect and share value with an even broader spectrum of people.