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Japan: a pioneer in the world of refills


Japan: a pioneer in the world of refills

Asian beauty expert and founder of consultancy Information & Inspiration, Florence Bernardin talks Japanese consumer habits when it comes to refills in the beauty space.

The Japanese market is reputed to have a wide offering in terms of refills, would  you agree?
Absolutely: the range is remarkably rich, even when it comes to eyeliner cartridges. All brands offer compacts with interchangeable decorations, but also foundation formulas that can be changed according to the season. These are usually pans that attach to their cases with stickers, glue  and even magnets. These can also be clipped, especially in the case of cushions. In addition, we’re beginning to see new formats in skincare; Haku (Shiseido group) offers one-size secondary packaging that can hold two refill formats to allow the consumer to rationalize their consumption.

Why has the trend developed so strongly there?
The first skincare refills appeared in Japan in 1974 after the first oil crisis, which led to a significant increase in the cost of plastic. The aim was to limit the impact on products’ production costs as much as possible. Then since the 1990s they became widespread given the desire to reduce the volumes of waste for recycling, volumes that are difficult to manage in small living spaces, which is the reality in large Japanese cities.

What are the preferred packaging options?
In masstige, most products come in doypack-type sachets and for the high end the majority of brands offer refills in capsule format.
But the price of refills differs little from that of the whole product: it’s a way of engaging the customer in an ecological approach that’s
not simply economic. In masstige for example, if the price of the refill is 20% belowthan that of the whole item, the same is often
true for a quantity that’s 20% lower. In the end, the price per gram/ml remains the same.

Christel Trinquier

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