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Beauty Masks Become Hit Through Novel Advertising (March 6, 2007)

A beauty mask featuring Bihada Sara (Lovelabo)
A beautiful young girl with long curled hair smiles daringly in front of a hot pink background. A skincare product with packaging featuring a drawing of this eye-catching scene - a beauty sheet mask sold by Lovelabo under the brand name Bihada Ichizoku (meaning Beautiful Skin Family) - is now a regular sight in the cosmetics sections of major drugstores and convenience stores. The mask has been recording unprecedented sales since its launch in November 2005.

Fusing Novels and Cosmetics
Beauty sheet masks are commonly considered to be specialty skincare goods, and there were no such products designed for everyday use. Focusing on this gap in the market, Lovelabo set out to create a more accessible product, and to market it the company came up with the idea of a tie-up with a novel.

In September 2005, prior to the product's launch, an original serial novel titled Bihada ichizoku began appearing on Girls Walker, a fashion website for mobile phones with 9 million registered users. The heroine of the novel is Bihada Sara, who stands up to powerful forces alone in the hope of rising to the top in the world of skin beauty. The story is filled with both rivalry and romance, with Sara pitted against her long-lost twin sister, shedding tears over a romance with someone she should not have loved, and so forth.

Beauty masks featuring other characters have now appeared. (Lovelabo)

The illustrations are of a classic shojo (girls') manga style reminiscent of Esu o nerae (Go for an Ace), a popular tennis manga of the 1970s. This and the haughty signature remark, "You think you can win over me with skin like that?" won many fans, and talk of the novel spread through weblogs and other forums. Riding on the wave of the novel's popularity, the sheet mask featuring Sara went on sale on the cell-phone website in November 2005. All 64,000 sheets were sold out in a day, a remarkable record for a cosmetic product, and it has become the number-one product at many stores since going on general sale in May 2006.

Mom and Sister Join In
Purchasers initially may have been drawn by the flashy package or newsworthiness, but it is the quality that has kept the product in high demand. The masks, though priced at only ¥450 (about $3.70 at ¥120 to the dollar) each, are as large as the palm of an adult male's hand and are soaked in three times the amount of lotion as the average product. The lotion, moreover, contains pearl extract and seaweed extract.

Cream products are also selling well. (Lovelabo)

In addition to Sara, masks featuring her twin sister and rival, Yutenji Saki, and her mother, Bihada Rumiko, have also appeared. Saki's sheet mask uses cactus extract, while Rumiko's contains birch sap. The full line of Bihada Ichizoku products now includes a peeling gel (¥1,890, or $15.60), a face and body cream (¥2,100, or $17.40), and a bath powder (¥180, or $1.50). The extravagant illustrations and provocative comments on the packages are grabbing the hearts of consumers.

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Copyright (c) 2007 Web Japan. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.

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