Shiseido: Harvey Nichols & SPACE NK – Leeds

Today I visited Space NK and Harvey Nichols in Leeds, to find out prior to visiting Japan, which Shiseido products are currently on offer in the UK. No other stockists sell Shiseido in Leeds, therefore was keen to see this as a comparison to the brand in it’s native home of Japan. I also hoped to take photos/collect any marketing materials/ad campaign material which may be visible, again to compare with the Japanese collateral – i.e. model, copywriting, product name, etc.

Harvey Nichols:
In Harvey Nichols, I found a very small range of 6 skincare products, at the back of the store – I was unable to photograph the selection being surrounded by beauty consultants and felt this was inappropriate to do so. I found that Shiseido used to have a cosmetics and skincare concession in Harvey Nichols, selling a full range of products, but has since been removed and now features a small range within a wall of more ‘remote’, or ‘new’ and not as well known, products and brands such as Iconic. All of the staff members in the department were too new to Harvey Nichols to tell me why the concession was removed – my only thought was that it could not compete with the likes of MAC and Benefit which fill the first floor of the store, perhaps not being as understood by a British audience, or not being so well received due to the lack of advertising and marketing surrounding the UK demographic. I did ask for any Shiseido marketing materials or magazines, to which I was informed they do not stock, nor know of, at all in their working experience at Harvey Nichols for such brand. I was advised to visit Space NK, another stockist, across the road to enquire with them regarding this. From my research, a full range of Shiseido products in still available online, on the Harvey Nichols website. I did find interesting however, that, out of the few products in the store, 3 of which featured skin-lightening or ‘whitening’ in the product name. I was told by a member of staff that this was most likely a brand-conscious/buyer decision, in regard to still catering for the Asian market and demographic within Leeds, as these ‘types’ of products are not readily available in the Western/British market.

Space NK:
After being directed to Space NK by a beauty consultant at Harvey Nichols, I was informed that only 1 product was actually stocked in-store – beauty blotting paper. I found this surprising for a cosmetics store, however was also told that last summer they did stock the Shiseido Summer Range, consisting of SPF products, aimed at preserving ‘white skin’. Again like Harvey Nichols, found that this would of been a conscious decision, possibly catering for the Asian market in Leeds. I found it interesting that cosmetic products weren’t stocked, however Shiseido ultimately have been known for their technical innovations and formulations, making them stand-out with their skincare products primarily. There was also no marketing materials in store for Shiseido, and was directed to their website to view the advertising campaigns if desired.

Whilst in-store, I was speaking with a Korean Beauty Consultant, Vicky, whom I found extremely interesting and helpful in regards to discussing areas of interest surrounding my research trip to Japan. Vicky took a great interest in my research project, and took some time to talk to me about Japanese culture, history and its association with modern day beauty, as well as discussing products, brands, bloggers, social media and trends.

The main points in raised in conversation were:

  • Korean Beauty trends influencing China and Japan’s beauty regimes – both skincare and cosmetics. Lisa Eldridge has been known to take her influences from Korea in regards to innovation, formula and trend, whilst working with in Japan with brands such as Shiseido and Lancome.
  • Contrasts between stereotypes of British people wanting to tan, and Japanese people wanting to ‘lighten’ or ‘whiten’ their skin. It was said by Vicky that this ‘ideal’ of Japaneseness, comes down to the history of the culture and society in regards to work, wealth and status. In the ‘olden’ times, it was known that if you had a tan, it was likely that you worked outside either farming, or building, for example, whilst if you had ‘white’ skin, you would be indoors, leading one to the assumption of one’s education, superior job role and high class status. It was not seen as a good thing to have a tan, and this ‘ideal’ has carried on through to present day, further pushed with the globalisation of celebrity, culture, international brands, publishing/advertising, communication and social media. Hierarchy and sense of ‘place’ are known in Japan to be respected, and it was said that no one wants to be seen at the bottom of the hierarchy, whether it be in society or at work. This allows for markets such as ‘skin-lightening’ products and fashion magazines to become readily available, with one then being able to buy into a sense of better being, belonging and status, being accepted as one of ‘them’, opposed to being perceived as ‘one of us’ in contrast. This idea is also discussed in Mikiko Ashikari’s Journal, ‘Cultivating Japanese Whiteness’ (2005).

This is also working toward the following objectives:

1. To understand the ways in which Social Media and Magazines can affect self-perceptions and issues:

A) With body image (Females, 18-24)

B) With body image on a cross-cultural scale (Females, 18-24; Tokyo, Japan).

3. To work with and interview those both actively working in the Fashion and Beauty Industries, and those on a consumer/follower/user basis, to compare behaviours and perspectives in relation to body image and self-perceptions.