Cosmetics prices rise despite weaker yen

By Cho Yi-chun and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Sun, Feb 03, 2013 - Page 3

Despite a recent government call for businesses to follow the depreciation of the Japanese yen in setting prices, a number of Japanese cosmetics companies are raising the prices of their products, with increases from as low as 3 percent to as much as 16 percent.

Since a landslide victory for the Japanese Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) on Dec. 16 last year, the yen has seen a 10 percent devaluation, due in part to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic policies aimed at spurring the nation’s economic growth.

However, instead of setting lower prices, Procter & Gamble (P&G), the maker of SK-II — a Japanese cosmetics and facial care product brand — has increased the price of one of its main products, a popular facial treatment that has sold over 300,000 bottles annually, raising it from NT$3,800 to NT$4,100, a 7.8 percent rise.

It is the third year in a row that P&G has increased SK-II prices, accumulating a total of 24.2 percent in price rises, from NT$3,300 to its current price of NT$4,100, Taiwanese department stores said on Friday, adding that many of their customers are saying that prices are starting to become unaffordable.

In response, P&G said in a press release that the change in prices was a decision made by the firm’s headquarters in Japan, which took into consideration a rise in material cost overheads.

Meanwhile, Shiseido Company Ltd, another Japanese cosmetics and facial care company, has also increased prices of some of its products on Friday, both in Japan and in some international locations, with the average price hike about 3.9 percent.

Shiseido said that the reason it was raising prices of its products was rising materials and logistics costs, adding that it had not changed the pricing of its products since 2009.

Jill Stuart, a subsidiary of Japan’s Kose Group, has also implemented price rises of between 5 percent and 16 percent from earlier this month.

Prices for European products such as some Chanel products have also been increased by up to 4.8 percent, department stores said, adding that the brands Giorgio Armani and Su Uemura also saw recent price hikes of between 5 percent and 7 percent.

According to some retailers, the price increases for cosmetics and skin care products during a time of financial difficulty was a move that capitalized on the loyalty of their female customers and that consumers should act.

They suggested consumers should express their discontent with the companies’ price rises by either reducing their purchases from those brands, or switching to another brand altogether.