SK-II says anti-Japan sentiment hurt skincare sales in China

The American multi-national FMCG corporation Procter & Gamble has just released its financial results for the second quarter of the 2023/24 fiscal year. The report revealed sales of the high-end Japanese skincare brand SK-II fell 34% in Greater China between October and December.

According to major news outlets, SK-II executives believe a spike in anti-Japan sentiment among Chinese consumers was a major factor in the results, along with China’s slower-than-expected economic recovery. Tokyo’s decision to release radioactive wastewater into the sea surrounding Fukushima back in August angered many Chinese citizens, who echoed Beijing’s stance that the move was “extremely selfish and irresponsible”. On top of Beijing’s blanket ban on seafood imported from Japan, many Chinese consumers have chosen to boycott Japanese products in recent months.

News of SK-II’s sales drop hit China’s Twitter-like platform Weibo, garnering over 90 million views across multiple hashtags. Many in the comments section identified themselves as participants of the SK-II boycott, and some were even dismayed sales had only dropped by 34%. Some also remarked that they stopped buying SK-II skincare products years ago as, according to them, the brand’s product quality has declined.

However, SK-II executives remain optimistic that the outlook for the brand in China will brighten quickly. “Our consumer research indicates SK-II brand sentiment is improving, and we expect to see sequential improvement in the back half,” the company’s CFO, Andre Schulten, said on the company’s earnings call. The P&G CEO added that SK-II has suffered setbacks in China due to anti-Japan sentiment in the past but has always recovered.


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