Shiseido has become the first Asian cosmetics company to be recognized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) thanks to its work in Bangladesh to improve the social status and lifestyle of rural women through the promotion and use of skin care products.
The social activity, which has been named Business Call to Action (BCtA), involves educating women in the rural area of Bangladesh with relatively low income through ‘the power of make up’. The company has introduced skin care products – called Les DIVAS – specifically for local people, while educating them on the usage of the products. Alongside this Shiseido is working to improve their social status and lifestyle with educational activities; these include workshops regarding health, hygiene, and nutrition.
The programme was evaluated as a business model which can work towards social contribution and a business operation simultaneously. Indeed, the company is said to have been considering how to contribute to resolving issues such as poverty and environmental issues in the international society, utilizing its core business. As part of this strategy Shiseido has signed the international guidelines ‘Women Empowerment Principles (WEPs).
Shiseido has conducted a field study which reported results that women in rural areas are still in need of education about beauty and skin care, and have limited opportunity to receive skin care products. However, there is significant interest shown by these women with regards to their beauty and skin care routines. As a result of this Shiseido began selling products targeted to the hot and humid climate, and the specific skin care needs, in 2011. While this year the coverage expanded further, with more workshops being held for women in sewing plants – the main industry in rural areas of Bangladesh – and female students.
As a result of this initiative the sale of skin care products and door to door sales resulted in higher employment figures for women in the area. Not only has this helped women generate their own income, it is said to have led to their confidence improving, as such resulting in a change of perception and behaviour from the women living in rural areas. Likewise with employment staying with local people, there was further education gathered on manufacturing in hot and humid work places, with a focus on how to adjust to sweating and the workings of the women’s skin in these conditions. As a result Shisedio launched a new sun care product Shiseido Perfect UV Protector, based directly at these consumers.
And finally, the findings were said to be able to transferred to various business scenarios, including new knowledge of market entering approach to emerging markets, methods to sell products to BOP (Base of the Pyramid), and knowledge of Halal certification acquisition.