Money Might Be Tight But People Still Want Their Skin to Look Nice

(Bloomberg) -- Chinese consumers may be thinking twice before they buy a new car or that Gucci handbag, but their skincare regime is still sacrosanct -- and that’s helping Japanese cosmetics maker Shiseido Co.

Chief Executive Officer Masahiko Uotani said while the China slowdown is a reality and affects other industries, it hasn’t been felt at Shiseido -- Chinese in-store sales of its prestige brands grew more than 40 percent in January.

“We’re always surveying and monitoring consumers’ willingness to buy beauty products, and that willingness has not fallen,” Uotani told reporters at a briefing of the company’s full-year earnings. “China’s growing middle-class segment is still driving sales.”

Shiseido’s prestige segment includes Cle de Peau, NARS and its eponymous Shiseido brand, with some products retailing for more than $650.

The beauty company hasn’t been completely shielded from China, however. Uotani noted that sales from go-between buyers, or “daigous,” in Japan fell almost 20 percent in January, as a new e-commerce law that requires them to register and pay taxes took effect in China.

Uotani also said it’s hard to predict the Chinese market going forward, and the company will monitor the impact on employment and wages.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.