Manufacturing a large majority of Shiseido’s lipstick containers, Hidan aims to reach new heights in order to suit developing market needs.
"Name any major cosmetics company and there is a good chance that we deliver to them.”
Hideo Matsunuma, President, Hidan Co., Ltd.
First established more than 70 years ago, Hidan is a cosmetic container manufacturer with an established international presence whose products are available not only in Japan and Asia, but also Europe and the United States.
Something of an industry pioneer, the company was one of the first to build and operate a production site in China in the early 90s because of fierce price competition in Japan.
Company president Hideo Matsunuma looks back on the decision in the following terms: “Our strategy was to lower the overall price of our products in order to meet global costs by localizing production sites in China, where labor costs are lower, and thus expand our business worldwide.”
While Mr. Matsunuma admits it hasn’t always been plain sailing, Japan’s rapidly shrinking population and deepening labor crisis means setting up a Chinese base has proved an increasingly shrewd move.
One way to tackle the challenges presented by Japan’s demographic shift is through increased automation. Mr. Matsunuma picks up the thread: “Hidan has increased its production efficiency, so that we only need one person for an operation that used to be carried out by ten. We are striving every day to achieve both semi- and full automation.”
The proposed shift to automation comes with a presidential note of caution, however: “Machines cannot easily replace the work of the excellent human resources we have nurtured over the years.”
Development of an integrated production system is one of Hidan’s key initiatives, enabling the company, in the words of Mr. Matsunuma, to “provide simple yet tailor-made solutions” for its customers. Indeed, “only a company with an integrated system like ours can always think from the customer’s perspective and respond flexibly to their ever-changing needs.”
And make no mistake, Hidan has a lot of customers. Mr Matsunuma adds: “The products we offer include some of the best-selling products that you all know and love; we supply containers for almost all national and international lipstick manufacturers, and also have experience in other containers besides lipsticks, such as metal compacts for foundations, jars, bottle caps and other products.”
Elsewhere, Mr. Matsunuma is keen to emphasize the company’s environmental credentials. “Our ultimate goal,” he states, “is to use 100% recyclable materials, which means that the next generation of lipstick containers will be made of 100% aluminum. We want to create a product that allows consumers to reuse their containers once they use up their lipstick.”
Looking to the future, Mr. Matsunuma highlights the company’s willingness to cooperate with outside parties: “We welcome co-creation in the sense of collaborating with our clients in terms of development and other activities.”
He is also considering expansion into overseas markets and local production, outside of Japan and China, with Southeast Asia as one of the options due to its geographical proximity and increased presence in the global market.
The company’s experience in China, meanwhile, stands it in good stead when it comes to conducting local production overseas. “It is important,” Mr. Matsunuma says, “for local production sites to understand Hidan customer’s expectations.” Key to a successful partnership is not necessarily business acumen alone, but the ability to communicate and maintain good relationships with local employees.
2023 could be the year that the cosmetics industry finally recovers from the negative impact of the global pandemic. To this end, Mr. Matsunuma confirms that Hidan is looking to diversify its line-up by “introducing new products that transcend the image we have had in the past.”
As for its customer portfolio, Hidan’s range of contacts is already extensive: “Name any major cosmetics company,” Mr. Matsunuma says, “and there is a good chance that we deliver to them.”
Expressing satisfaction with the company’s customer portfolio doesn’t mean there is no plan, however. In fact, the company is in the process of developing a mid-term strategic plan, which, Mr. Matsunuma states, will most likely be implemented by the next generation of Hidan employees. It includes sales, production capacity, and the development of new containers, and emphasizes the need for the company to remain flexible and adapt to changes in the business environment.
If successful, the combined force of such efforts will only serve to make the company more profitable in the long run.