Fujifilm Corp’s new anti-aging skin cream is picture-perfect in more ways than one. For one, it’s a way the company turned its lemons into lemonade.
As market intelligence site Brand Channel points out, in recent years, photography and film have “shifted 180 degrees,” leaving Fujifilm’s main competitor, Eastman Kodak Co, bankrupt and “in the digital dust.”
But instead of just lying there and taking it, Fujifilm’s successfully navigated turbulent waters while we weren’t looking: It’s diversified out of film into — guess what? — skincare and healthcare products.
“Both Fujifilm and Kodak knew the digital age was surging towards us. The question was, what to do about it,” Fujifilm CEO Shigetaka Komori tells the Wall Street Journal. “The most decisive factor (for our success) was how drastically we were able to transform our businesses when digitalization occurred.”
“Technologically, we already possessed diverse resources. So we thought, ‘There must be ways to turn them into new businesses.’”
And pouring its substantial proprietary technologies — built up over decades of research and development on photosensitive materials — into a new product has turned out to be nothing short of revolutionary. The shift promises to be lucrative, too.
Note that anti-aging creams are the backbone of cosmetics, with demand for these products steadily and significantly increasing, even in the hard times of the Great Recession.
And in this product sector, Fujifilm has a clear edge: anti-aging creams are made from the same antioxidation technology used in preventing photos from fading.
Applying its patented chemicals in new ways, Fujifilm has launched a comprehensive anti-aging skincare line called the Astalift series — developed using its research findings on collagen, anti-oxidization and nanotechnology for photosensitive materials.
Using collagen may be a new concept in cosmetics, but it’s a tried and tested technique in preventing photographic images from fading, company executives explain.
The Astalift products also contain skin-replenishing collagen and astaxanthin, a pink pigment found in shellfish and salmon, which is touted as a means to protect the skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.
According to Fujifilm, astaxanthin is an increasingly popular skin conditioning agent that scientists have recognize as being 1,000 times more effective than coenzyme Q10, the antioxidant agent now most commonly used in anti-aging products.
The Japanese company also claims that the Pico-Collagen in Astalift penetrates the skin through cell gaps, working from the inside-out to restore suppleness and elasticity.
“Collagen only started being used by the cosmetics industry relatively recently,” Andrzej Brylak, director of Fujifilm’s European beauty and health division tells The Daily Mail. But “it’s a key ingredient in film emulsion and we have a very long history of research in this area.”
“Preventing oxidization from light exposure is also a big issue in protecting film — and a similarly big issue in preventing skin damage.”
The Japanese company is set to march into the European skincare market, which it estimates was worth 1.8 trillion yen (US$23 billion) in 2011. France, the United Kingdom and Germany make up over half of total demand. In the U.K. alone, the skincare market is worth almost £1billion (US$1.57 billion) a year, according to the Daily Mail.
In particular, it’ll be launching its Astalift series of skincare products first in France by February 2012, then in other European countries. Fujifilm also said the brand includes base makeup items that control light absorption and reflection.
Wildly successful in Japan since it was launched early last year, the Astalift skincare product line has been introduced in Hong Kong and mainland China in September last year, and sales have already expanded to Southeast Asia.
“Proving this Astalift product has a benefit will be the key issue,” Rachel Watson, a senior lecturer in aesthetic dermatology at Manchester University tells the Brand Chanel.
“There’s now a lot of research on antioxidants and we are making headway with products that make a difference—but the question with this new formulation will be whether it really has an effect,” she says.