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Omotenashi goes global: Shanghai, China

Beauty care and service in China

China is a timeless civilization with standards of beauty dating back to ancient times. For hundreds of years, fair, flawless skin has been considered an epitome of female beauty in China, as expressed in the old Chinese saying, “One white covers up three counts of ugliness.”

Yet the perception of beautiful skin in China has changed in recent years. Chinese women used to prefer whitish foundations and skincare products to brighten the complexion. Nowadays, more and more women favor a healthy and natural skin tone.

As in most parts of Asia, beauty care in China focuses closely on the skin. More than 70 percent of money spent on beauty in China goes into skincare¹. The beauty care experience varies, of course, from region to region, especially between the cities and countryside. In vast metropolises such as Shanghai and Beijing, skin beauty demands rapt attention and meticulous daily care, including special care for the eyes, lips and hair. Approaches to skincare tend to be more relaxed in regional cities and in the countryside.

Customer service and hospitality in China still focus closely on sales, just as they do in the West. Service is strongly purpose-oriented, with a ‘customer’ and ‘server’ ranked at different levels in an implicit hierarchy.

The concept of Omotenashi from nearby Japan departs radically from these conventions at the sales venues of China. An Omotenashi relationship has two parties, a host providing services and a guest receiving them. The host and guest are equals, and the host expects nothing in return for the hospitality she extends to the guest. Omotenashi is giving for the sake of giving.

For any beauty counselor, Omotenashi should be deeper than a procedure listed step by step in a sales manual. To take up the way of Omotenashi from Japan, a beauty counselor must appreciate and live the concept.

Source: “Engaging Affluent Chinese with Beauty Products,” by Patricia Pao

Omotenashi in practice

The Huaihai Road in Shanghai is the most elegant and fashionable shopping avenue of the city, lined with European style classic architecture and many shopping malls and department stores. One of the largest and most popular department stores is PARKSON, a shoppers’ paradise in the middle of the Huaihai Road. At the Kanebo Counter in the large cosmetics section on the first floor you can meet Shao Jiajun, one of the top Kanebo beauty counselor in Shanghai. Ms. Jiajun has built up a stellar reputation with her welcoming smile and impeccable memory for customers and their skincare needs.

We asked Ms. Jiajun a few questions about beauty, skincare, and Omotenashi counseling.

©Francois Marechal

What, in the eyes of the Chinese, is the key attribute of a beautiful women?

Beautiful skin is of course important for beauty. Yet beauty is a composite of many qualities. Properly quaffed hair, elegant clothing, and a graceful style are also important.

How would you describe a typical skincare routine in China?

Most women in China are not aware of the importance of double cleansing and daily UV protection. Many feel no need to cleanse when not using makeup, or to wear sunscreen on cloudy days. Daily skincare is limited to facial cleansers, toners, and emulsions.

What are the essentials of the beauty counseling you offer?

The key step for me is finding out the customers’ needs and preferences. To tailor beauty advice, one has to know the customer. Next, I present products the customer can see, touch, smell, and compare. The customer must experience a product at a sensory level and experience how it improves her skin.

Do you offer any special counseling services?

Counseling at Kanebo starts with skincare. To start the counseling session, we perform a comprehensive analysis of her skin properties and condition using Kanebo’s advanced skin analysis device. We may also send a customer to the beauty cabin, a special esthetic space in the PARKSON department store where customers can experience Kanebo’s professional balancing massage and treatments. My favorite part of counseling is the hands-on interaction with my customers in the beauty salon. The simple act of touching narrows the distance between counselor and the customer. It helps me experience the customer’s needs in a very direct way.

How do your customers respond to Omotenashi counseling?

A customer may or may not purchase a product on her first visit to the Kanebo counter. Some of those who don’t will come back to make a purchase later, after experiencing Omotenashi counseling. The Chinese consumer is very discerning when it comes to beauty care and the effects and safety of cosmetics. With careful Omotenashi counseling we can build trust in our products.

Why did you join Kanebo?

Before joining Kanebo I was impressed by the company’s various products. Kanebo has a long history dating back more than a century. To last so long, a brand must be built on sturdy foundations. Decade by decade, Kanebo has always stressed quality and the development of prolific product lineups tailored to customer needs. Research and development with a firm grounding in fundamental skin science have been essential to Kanebo’s success. I have always had a personal preference for Japanese skincare cosmetics. I also love the humane aspect of Japanese companies.

Special Kanebo offers at the PARKSON Department Store

Every visitor to the Kanebo Sakura counters receives a complimentary skin analysis to enlighten her on her daily skin care habits and pinpoint possible skin problems. The beauty counselors also give on-the-spot demonstrations of the recommended products and carefully explain their usage. Member customers at PARKSON Department Store can experience the “Kanebo Balancing Massage” , a special fusion of Western and Eastern massage routines developed by Kanebo. VIP members are sometimes invited back to the store for feedback and beauty care. Customers celebrating birthdays or preparing to attend important events can also receive full makeup services.


Kanebo Cosmetics (China) Co., Ltd.
Address 18F, Longemont Yes Tower, 399 Kaixuan Road, Changning District of Shanghai, China
TEL +86 21 52285050 FAX +86 21 52435005
Website Company: http://www.kanebo-cosmetics.cn/
LUNASOL: http://www.weibo.com/kanebolunasol

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