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Carsten Fischer is among the best placed to know. As Shiseido Co. Ltd.'s recently named corporate executive officer and chief executive officer of its international business division (and its former corporate advisor), the German executive has brought his own brand of diversity to the conservatism of the 136-year-old global beauty powerhouse based in Japan.
"Shiseido is so known in its home country, it's really part of the fabric of life in Japan, but it has and always has had a decisive global outlook," said Fischer.
That goes back to the roots of the company, whose founder, Arinobu Fukuhara, in 1872 brought Western medicine to the Japanese market, when Chinese medicine was still accepted by the mainstream. (Today, 50 years after starting to export, Shiseido's products are sold in more than 70 countries outside of Japan where they generate 40 percent of its revenues.)
Looking at the marketplace in general, Fischer said, "The business of beauty is in a state of tremendous change right now: The world has become somewhat smaller every day, and this affects our business daily. The market has become increasingly borderless, as are categories, countries, retailers and competitors.
"Emerging markets, like India, China, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, have begun to open up their economies to the world," he continued. "The new players have added new power to the whole globalized marketplace and shaped the economics and politics of the century."
Other changes come from the technological front, too.
"A new generation is growing up creating communication with devices," he continued. "Customers have more and more choices today, and they have become more used to having it their way. And they like the power of choice they exercise."
Fischer said it's therefore key for the beauty industry to understand and serve consumers in a personal way.