Case | HBS Case Collection | October 2004 (Revised July 2013)

Making China Beautiful: Shiseido and the China Market

by Geoffrey G. Jones, Akiko Kanno and Masako Egawa


Describes the multinational growth of Shiseido, the world's fourth-largest cosmetics company, with a focus on its strategy in China since 1981. Explores the challenges facing firms in the globalization of a culturally specific industry such as cosmetics. The Japanese company displayed an early interest in international expansion, but its early investments were lost during World War II. Thereafter, it sought to build businesses in Europe and North America, but was challenged by market conditions quite different from those in Japan. Even within its home market, deregulation and the entry of foreign firms during the 1990s led to a significant loss in market share. Shiseido entered China in 1981 and built Aupres, a large cosmetics brand specifically aimed at Chinese women. Further growth followed, and in 2003, plans were announced to build a large network of voluntary chain stores. Highlights managerial challenges of growing the China business further in the face of increasing competition and provides a framework for discussing the challenges of prioritizing the allocation of resources in a global business.

Keywords: Cross-Cultural and Cross-Border Issues; Globalized Firms and Management; Growth and Development Strategy; Resource Allocation; Competition; Beauty and Cosmetics Industry; China; Japan;


Jones, Geoffrey G., Akiko Kanno, and Masako Egawa. "Making China Beautiful: Shiseido and the China Market." Harvard Business School Case 805-003, October 2004. (Revised July 2013.)