Chifure's longstanding commitment to the production of essential quality cosmetics at affordable prices began with the conviction that cosmetics could be excellent without being expensive. Since its beginnings, Chifure has taken pride in its determination to anticipate customer needs and provide quality cosmetics at reasonable prices.
Shimada Matsuo on the Japan Cosmetic Industry Association’s tour to the United States and Europe in 1959
Shimada Matsuo's Vision
Recognizing Chifure founder Shimada Matsuo’s broad cosmetics industry experience and knowledge, Mitsubishi Oil Co., Ltd. appointed him to direct sales at their cosmetics company established in 1947. Shimada acquired the company in 1951. From the beginning, he aimed to offer safe and cost effective cosmetics, dismissing the image of cosmetics as necessarily luxurious and expensive. He introduced door-to-door sales to reduce distribution costs.
Shimada also encouraged in-house ingredient development in order to further bring down production costs. Under his leadership, the company created pioneering fragrance-free products. Shimada's commitment to inexpensive cosmetics was formed during a research tour of the United States and Europe in 1959. After that, he set himself to the task of offering products priced at ¥100, one third the conventional price of cosmetics in Japan at the time.
Dedication to Customers
Shimada was first and foremost interested in serving customers and anticipating their needs. He observed that, rather than focusing on product quality and effectiveness, cosmetics companies generally tended to exploit women's psychology to gain sales.
He countered these prevailing cosmetic industry business practices with a search for responsible and innovative sales approaches. His efforts resulted in a breakthrough in the cosmetics industry.
Events in this period
Chifure predecessor company established
Shimada Matsuo takes over the company
Launch of door-to-door sales
¥100 cosmetics, as launched in 1962
In 1960s Japan, the cosmetics industry targeted affluent women and focused on luxury. The price of cosmetics was inflated by large advertising budgets necessary to build brand image competitive with imported products. Shimada, however, envisioned cosmetic products as daily necessities rather than luxuries. Eschewing advertising and reducing production and packaging costs, he was able to realize his vision of products priced at ¥100.
Although sales were poor at first, a leading magazine dedicated a product research article to help change that. It drew the interest of the National Federation of Women's Regional Organizations (Zen-Chifuren). Eventually, distribution of Shimada's products by members of Zen-Chifuren broke the 'expensive is better' misconception.
A Propitious Luncheon
Impressed by Shimada's philosophy of affordable quality cosmetics and his idea of ¥100 cosmetic products, the National Federation of Regional Women's Organizations (Zen Chifuren), Japan's largest consumer organization, showed interest in lending support.
A discussion between Shimada and Zen Chifuren representatives over lunch confirmed their shared vision and common objectives. They wished to offer quality products at reasonable prices, to be forthright in marketing, and dispense with the emphasis on price inflation based on an overly-glamorous image and packaging.
A joint venture partnership was formed in 1968, with Zen Chifuren substantially responsible for product distribution. Chifure as a brand name is derived from the Zen Chifuren organization name and reflects their involvement. By 1971, the Chifure brand had gained sufficient recognition to be released to the general market.
Events in this period
¥100 cosmetics launched
Extensive media coverage
'Chifure Cosmetics' brand launched, certified by the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Hygiene Research
Products with ingredients displayed on the label
Disclosure of Ingredients
Shimada felt strongly that consumers had a right to know exactly what was contained in products applied directly to the skin, because skin can be sensitive to certain ingredients. Chifure began fully disclosing ingredients on products in 1968, well before Japanese law required this in 2001, and pre-dating the 1975 US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules.
In 1978, the company additionally displayed the date of manufacture on the product container. While the Japanese cosmetic industry was reluctant to have a mandate on disclosure, Chifure's action was appreciated by consumers and surely was an example that influenced Japanese regulatory requirements.
The 1973 Oil Shock and Refillable Cosmetics
Chifure's introduction of refillable containers emerged as an innovative solution to inflation and other difficulties, including the shortage of plastic containers, caused by the oil crisis of 1973.
Refillable containers addressed the pressing issues of conserving limited resources and protecting the environment while keeping quality stable and prices down. Chifure's innovation stimulated resource conservation in the cosmetics industry, and devising various types of refill packaging, including for liquids, further expanded conservation possibilities.
Events in this period
General market sales of Chifure Cosmetics
Declaration on ¥100 price maintenance
Refillable containers introduced
Initiation of product packaging disclosing names and quantities of ingredients, and date of manufacture
Pioneering environment-friendly hairspray
Hairspray and the Global Environment
Chifure's non-chlorofluorocarbon (non-CFC) hairspray, setting lotion, and hair treatment, all launched in 1981, were selected as EcoMark products recommended by the Japan Environment Agency and approved by the Japan Environment Association for certification as environmentally conscious products contributing to environmental preservation.
Chifure’s hairspray refillable container with recycled PET resin was EcoMark certified in 1992.
Consumer Consultation Office
Setting up a consumer consultation office in 1980, Chifure again led the way in communication with customers. A toll free User Service Desk number initiated in 1992 made communication and consultation even easier.
Customer comments and suggestions from over two thousand calls a month on this line also provide valuable information, in addition to what consultants hear at the point of sale, for company management to analyze and assess customer opinion, and to take positive action.
Events in this period
Fragrance-free products introduced
Consumer Consultation Office established
Non-Freon hair spray introduced
Completion of new factory and corporate relocation to Kawagoe City, Saitama
Awards and certificates as a superior consumer-oriented company
Minister of International Trade and Industry Award
In 1992, Chifure received the Minister of International Trade and Industry Award for Outstanding Consumer-oriented Corporations. This award was initiated in 1990 by the Industrial Policy Bureau of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) (now the Ministry of Trade, Economy and Industry).
Evaluation is based on a six-month examination of a company's management policy in terms of quality assurance and awareness of and response to consumer needs and complaints. Chifure was recognized for its affordable cosmetics, disclosure of ingredients, reasonable packaging, and minimal advertising.
During the so-called 'bubble economy' of the late 1980s and early 1990s in Japan, interest in luxury goods was high and consumption soared. Cosmetics with special formulations were selling easily for high prices. Chifure introduced its Ayaka brand in this sales environment.
The brand is sold at counters in department stores and general merchandise stores, and targeted to skincare for the mature customer. Each customer can experience the added benefit of individual consultation at the point of sale. Ayaka products continue to break boundaries by offering all the exclusive luxuries of a high-end brand topped off with a sensibly competitive price point.
Events in this period
Ayaka brand introduced
Minister of Trade and Industry Award as outstanding consumer-oriented company
Line of quasi-drug cosmetic products introduced
Ad Adverse Chifure Advertises
Chifure placed its first mass media advertisement in 2003, in a shift from its long-held corporate commitment to refrain from advertising. The continued popularity of Chifure products through thirty-five years without advertising attests to their quality. However, a sea of proliferating cosmetic brands and a media scene marked by information overload, presented a challenge.
The company decided to use advertising to re-assert itself as a reasonably priced quality brand of products geared to people of all ages. Chifure's TV ads and advertising campaign allowed the company to achieve this goal and gain loyal customers.
Over 40 years of Product Refills
Chifure introduced refillable containers in 1974, and celebrated the 40th anniversary of this innovation in 2014. The actual anniversary date, June 25, is registered and officially designated by the Japan Anniversary Association as "Refillable Container Day."
This commemorative day is a reminder of the need to protect the environment. Chifure is dedicated to expanding its line-up of easy to use eco-friendly refills.
Events in this period
Policy shift on advertising; first commercial ad appears
Kawagoe headquarters/factory receives ISO9001 certification
Japan Organic Corporation established
Yuji Shimada moves from president to chairperson
Japan-made organic cosmetics brand “do organic” launched
Kawagoe headquarters/factory receives ISO14001:2004 certification
Chifure brand launched in China
Masakazu Kataoka becomes president
Bio-polyethylene containers adopted
Sponsorship agreement of AS Elfen Sayama (currently Chifure AS Elfen Saitama) women's soccer team signed
Yuji Shimada moves from chairperson to honorary chairperson, and Etsuko Shimada becomes chairperson
Osaka office established
Chifure Women Entrepreneur Support System instituted
Chifure Hanno Sports Ground established in Hanno City, Saitama Prefecture
Zenkoku Fujin Kaikan/Chifure Building (Shibuya office) completed
“Refill Day” instituted to mark 40th anniversary of launch of refillable cosmetics
Welfare and training center established at Hanno City, Saitama Prefecture
“Skin Has Right to Know Day” instituted
Chifure brand launched in Thailand
Support for Kochi prefecture’s prestigious Truck Yosakoi traditional dance team started
Chifure brand launched in Taiwan
Donation made to Tokyo University of Science Honorable Mention Award for Biology and Science
Invested in Nippon Shikizai, Inc.
70th anniversary celebrated
Technical instruction contract and joint projects with Institute of Physical and Chemical Research started
New plant constructed in Hanno, Saitama Prefecture, to further raise product quality and expand the production system
Company name changed to Chifure Holdings Corporation
Launched department store counseling-style brand HIKARIMIRAI
Cosmetics tool brand BEAUTY UP TOOL launched
Elfen Sports Club Inc. established
Chifure brand launched in Malaysia
Chifureai Nursery opened in Kawagoe, Saitama Prefecture
Chifure Beauty Science Center opened in Kawagoe, Saitama Prefecture, to further enhance research and development capabilities
Chifure brand launched in Singapore
Launched natural skincare brand “do natural”
Chifure brand launched in South Korea
Chifure brand launched in Kingdom of Cambodia
Chifure brand launched in Hong Kong
Chifure brand launched in Vietnam
Chifure Rikugien Building (Bunkyo office) opened
Chifure enters China’s cross-border EC market
Chifure brand launched in Brunei
Joined the Japan Business Federation
Cosmetics OEM Eye mate Co. Ltd. becomes a Group company
“Cosmetics Carbon Footprint Day” instituted
Chifure brand launched in Mongolia