Adapted To Japan
By melding the right cultural nuances, market share skyrocketed from approximately 3% to 7% in Japan. L’Oréal continues to enjoy a steady 16% annual growth today.
aspirational European look
adapted to Japanese nuance
brand localization strategy, design system, art direction, design, animation, website direction, guidelines
(photo credit: Simon Ackerman)
Japan is a sea teeming with the flotsam of foreign companies, large and small, who have buoyed then sank. After overcoming difficult government regulations and red tape, crossing the vast cultural and marketplace nuances fast becomes the most vital aspect for succeeding as a foreign company. Few companies have survived that voyage.
When L’Oréal first entered the Japanese market, the company’s brand and marketing relied solely on past successes in Europe and the Americas. L’Oréal Paris essentially handed their San Francisco agency existing European model and product photos, and said, “make a Japanese website.” That was it—I know, because I was a young designer at that agency then, and directed onto the project because I spoke Japanese. In hindsight, the account manager and creative director had little sense of the goals, and even less in the way of market insights or strategy.
~ Russell Volckmann
L’Oréal Japan messaging did not connect because there was no meaningful underlying story—it was a basic marketingspeak translation from English into Japanese.
L’Oréal Japan brand image did not succeed in capturing audience either. Its design system mimicked native Japan hair care competitors. L’Oréal Japan then awkwardly plugged existing European models and styles into this off-brand design framework. L’Oréal Japan as a brand looked and felt off. Japanese consumers felt it too and reception was lukewarm.
L’Oréal’s first attempt in Japan