Premier anti-aging asset-light IP strategy is heavy on innovation
As people live longer, both women and men are taking an increasing interest in anti-aging cosmetics and products. Since its emergence in the 1980s, the global market for anti-aging products has expanded enormously, doubling in the past decade alone. It is currently valued at around US$ 60 billion and is expected to be worth US$ 100 billion by the end of the decade.
Premier Anti-Aging Co., Ltd. was established in 2009 in Japan – whose citizens have long enjoyed the longest life expectancy in the world – to capture a slice of this growing market by developing, manufacturing and selling anti-aging products. It released its first product and brand, a cleansing balm under the “DUO” skincare label, the following year. In a highly competitive market, the DUO balm has gone on to become one of Japan’s most popular skincare products and, since 2020, has consistently been the country’s bestselling cleanser.
Encouraged by this success, Premier Anti-Aging has expanded to cover other areas of cosmetics, skincare, haircare and other personal care products across eight brands. As part of the company’s ambition to become one of Japan’s leading anti-aging businesses, it is also expanding its sales channels at drugstores, mass retailers and especially online. A mark of the company’s progress came in October 2020, when it was listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange Mothers.
Redesigned packaging reduces environmental impacts
Premier Anti-Aging is attempting to balance its market growth and product expansion with company-wide efforts to reduce its environmental impact and adopt sustainable management practices – efforts that will help realize the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
Ineffecient packaging is thought to release 17 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year in the United States alone. Aware of the environmental costs of inefficient or unnecessary packaging, Premier Anti-Aging has reduced the thickness of its DUO cleansing balm container to reduce its weight and increase the energy efficiency of their transport and delivery.
The company has also developed a unique container for its hair color treatment, “clayence,” that is only 43 millimeters wide. This allows it to be packaged and delivered in compact boxes, thereby reducing the amount of carboard used in packaging and – because more products can be carried in a single delivery – cutting carbon dioxide emissions. The clayence container is now protected by a three-dimensional trademark (registration no. 6605917).
The financial savings from these packaging innovations are then used to fund other Sustainable Development Goals-focused initiatives within the company.
Premier Anti-Aging has also launched several services to reduce its environmental impact. In October 2022, it established a refill scheme for “CANADEL” face cream, which has the potential to reduce the amount of plastic used by the brand by up to 70 percent. Working with its partners, Premier Anti-Aging has also installed recycling collection points in partner stores for used product containers.
Some of Premier Anti-Aging’s most innovative green initiatives, however, relate to the materials and manufacturing processes it uses for its products and packaging. Some of the company’s containers, such as those for its “immuno” brand, include plant-based plastics and recycled plastic bottles. Since September 2021, the company has also sourced plastic containers for its cleansing balms that use Green Nano®, a type of nanotechnology that produces 60 percent less carbon dioxide when incinerated. The company estimates that the adoption of Green Nano prevents the release of 1,190 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year – equivalent to the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by approximately 85,000 cedar trees annually.
The company uses asset-light management, and does not own any research laboratories or factories. Consequently, one of its intellectual property strategies focuses on using external knowledge and inventions to improve its corporate value and brand appeal. The company considers patents as an important source of potential innovation and is on the lookout for collaborations with external partners.
For example, when Premier Anti-Aging decided to replace the plastic spatula in its DUO cleansing balm with a wooden alternative, it utilized the world’s first “wood flow molding” technology to create a wooden spatula that met its specifications. Wood flow molding is the process of shaping wood into desired forms, much like plastic, by impregnating it resin and applying heat and pressure. The basic patent for the technology is owned by the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST). Since the process’s discovery in 2009, AIST has conducted joint research with Japanese manufacturer Chiyoda Kogyo Co., Ltd. and together applied for additional patents for molds and molding conditions.
After discovering the patents for wood flow molding, Premier Anti-Aging began researching the technology and assessing its potential and limitations. It also developed a creative team to overcome these limitations. Believing the technology held promise, it contacted Chiyoda Kogyo and began a joint investigation with the manufacturer. This investigation enabled Chiyoda Kogyo, which has a license to use the patent, to adapt the wood flow molding technology to create a wooden spatula meeting Premier Anti-Aging’s specifications. Premier Anti-Aging is now working on cost issues and moving toward implementation of this technology.
Since going public on the Tokyo Stock Exchange Mothers in 2020, Premier Anti-Aging has been strengthening its environmental, social and governance management to improve impacts on society and the natural world. As part of this, it established the Sustainability Promotion Committee in August 2022, and an environmental, social and governance policy is currently being developed. Premier Anti-Aging has also established a Nomination and Remuneration Advisory Committee and has introduced an executive officer system to strengthen corporate governance.
The company’s social endeavors can be seen in its support for gender equality. The company promotes the active participation of women throughout the business, and more than 60% of its employees are women. Women are integral decision makers in the company, and many of its innovations and business decisions – such as the revised clayence packaging – have come from its female staff.
Outside the company, Premier Anti-Aging supported International Women’s Day 2023 by donating cosmetics to women in economically difficult situations. In recognition of these and other social efforts, the company will be certified as a Health & Productivity Management Outstanding Organization in 2023 as part of a scheme run by Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the Japan Health Council (Nippon Kenko Kaigi).Premier Anti-Aging has grown rapidly in recent years. Even as the company’s scope expands, however, socially minded innovation will remain at the heart of its decisions. Premier Anti-Aging describes itself not just as a business, but as a “big venture” – a company determined to use its commercial and innovation expertise to make tangible contributions to society and the environment.