If you're from a western country where carton vinos are well established, you might be forgiven for assuming that these are the Japanese version of bottle-less wines.
Of course, that's not quite the case. In reality, Spavino is a kind of liquid bath salt that contains wine as one of the main ingredients. Apparently the brand was inspired by European spas (hence the name) which have been using wine-spiked soaks as part of their treatments to give women tighter, smoother ski.
Japan's cosmetics business is huge, but it's also mature, so manufacturers have been looking to grow by tapping new markets. Most evident is their ongoing reach into other parts of Asia, but some companies are taking advantage of underdeveloped opportunities at home too.
According to Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, while overall domestic cosmetics revenues have been down slightly in recent years, sales of men's skincare products were up 17% in 2008.
Pictured at left is UL・OS skincare lotion, a new brand that was launched by Otsuka Seiyaku last September.
At the moment, the UL・OS lineup includes two other products besides the skin lotion (skin milk and skin cream), but in a couple of weeks one more will join the fold: a water-based SPF 25 sunscreen.
In light of other industry stats, this makes sense. In '08, Japan's sun protection lotions and cosmetics markets also grew 12%.
So, you're a Japanese consumer and you're thinking of buying a new outfit online, or you're wondering how you might look with the latest trendy hairstyle, but you can't decide which look is right for you. Well, worry no more.
If you're an owner of a KDDI au cell phone, you can now use their EZ MY STYLING feature to snap a photo of yourself and composite it with various hair styles and fashion items. And if you want to get that haircut or buy those clothes, well the au partner companies that provide the images will be more than happy to assist you.
The technology was developed by the same folks who powered the Schick Japan Hige-Chen website we wrote about back in February.
Japanese personal care products manufacturer Kao took what used to be a low price product and pushed it into the middle price range by learning something about Japanese consumers and applying that knowledge to product design.
The company learned from market research that Japanese consumers have been spending more time brushing their teeth than in the past, and that women—especially younger women—devote a lot more time to brushing than men do.
So they took an existing brand, "Check", and revamped the design—giving it a narrower neck, a smaller head, finer, more effective bristles, and cuter colors—and started advertising it as a toothbrush for women.
Oh. And they also doubled the price—and watched sales go up, and up. . .
Lesson: never discount the importance of understanding the opportunity and then re-tooling the product to meet consumer needs.
Speaking of holes (see October 3 post), here's an eye-catching train poster from National (Panasonic) for its Kireone skincare device.
Kireone uses high-frequency sound waves to clear oil and dirt from the pores of your skin to keep it looking silky and smooth.
As mentioned in last Friday's post, ana（穴） means "hole" in Japanese. Conveniently, the word "pore" is expressed by combining the Kanji for "hair" (pronouncedke 毛）with the Kanji for "hole", giving you 毛穴 (ke-ana).
In Romaji, the poster's main copy reads Anata no keana taisaku ni, ana wa arimasen ka? (click visual to see an enlarged version).
A direct translation would be "Might there be holes in your hair-hole (pore) countermeasures?"
Naturally, a direct translation isn't particularly mellifluous or compelling in English, but you can see how the copywriter leverages the use of ana twice to produce a clever, rhythmic headline in Japanese (where, trust me, it sounds a lot better).
Had a busy week? Pulled an all-nighter? No time to shower before school or work?
Or perhaps you know someone who's bedridden, or a child that refuses to get into the tub?
Well, Japanese manufacturer Nihon Menbow, may have a solution for you.
It turns out that they've invented a kind of cotton swab comb that purports to remove oil and dirt from your hair and scalp. Just brush it through your locks to clean and deodorize. They say it's perfect for trips, camping and natural disasters. You can even give your head a quick cleaning before you leave the office for your date!
They sell the holder, a tray, and five sets of cotton swabs for about 580 yen.
BTW, I found the English copy on their package to be delightfully amusing. Click on the image at right to see an enlarged version.
When it comes to the physique, some Japanese women, much like some women elsewhere, invest considerable time, money and effort in the pursuit of shapely curves—whether the locale be the chest, legs or bottom. But one way in which they differ—at least by my reckoning—is that many spend an inordinate amount of time worried about the shape of their faces. I'm not talking about the curve of their noses, the fullness of their lips or the angle of their brows, though sure enough, plenty of gals fret about these as well. What I'm talking about is more general—and has more to do with size than detail. Many Japanese women are fixated on the size of their faces.
It's just one of those cultural things. In Japan, you often hear women gushing over the pulchritude of some model or movie celeb, "kao ga chisai!" (Her face is [so] small!). Everybody in Japan seems to want a small face.
As a result, you frequently come across items like the one pictured above. Manufactured by a firm called Sun Family, the "small face belt" is meant to help women to diminish their visages (and fight sagging cheeks and double chins too). It works just as you'd imagine. Fit the donut around your head, pump in air, and squeeze your chin and cheeks inward and upward.
Does it work? I couldn't tell you.
What I can tell you, however, is that understanding the consumer need that leads to these kinds of products has implications for anybody involved in the health and beauty field, especially when it comes to the area of functional cosmetics.