Pola: Decoding a Unique Skincare Innovation and Business Model


Pola is a renowned Japanese cosmetics company and one of the top global MLM companies.

In this article, we delve into the company’s rich history and evolution. From its humble beginnings as a simple hand cream for a loved one to offering tailored solutions to meet diverse skincare needs, we uncover the secrets behind its success.

Read on to find out how this company combines science, art, and love.

Insights

  • Pola Inc., a Japanese cosmetics company founded in 1929, offers an extensive range of skincare and beauty products, with a significant market presence globally.
  • The company employs a blend of traditional and modern marketing strategies, including direct-selling and multi-level marketing, providing opportunities for individuals to become self-employed entrepreneurs.
  • Pola’s innovative approach to customer care includes conducting individual skin analysis and environmental forecasts, creating tailored skincare solutions and products like APEX brand.

Section 1 – The Company

In this section, we will take an in-depth look at the history of the company and how it has evolved over time. We’ll also delve into its current performance and business segments, providing a comprehensive understanding of its operations.


Overview of Pola

Pola Inc., the renowned Japanese cosmetics company, offers an extensive range of skincare and beauty products. With a focus on anti-aging care, whitening cosmetics, and beauty food, Pola has established itself as a prominent player in the industry.

In addition to its product lineup, the company provides facial esthetic treatments. Pola extends its expertise beyond personal care to the hospitality industry, supplying amenities to hotels, traditional Japanese-style inns, and leisure facilities.

As a subsidiary of Pola Orbis Holdings Inc., Pola stands as one of the flagship brands alongside Orbis Inc., another subsidiary offering cosmetic and beauty products.

The parent company, Pola Orbis Holdings Inc., boasts a portfolio of brands, including THREE, FIVEISM×THREE, DECENCIA, FUJIMI, and Jurlique.

Market

With its headquarters in Japan, this company has established a strong presence worldwide.

Pola boasts an extensive network, with approximately 3,000 sales offices across Japan. Additionally, the brand has 67 Pola shops nationwide. It also has a presence in 10 countries and areas in Asia and other regions.

Pola’s position on the DSN 2023 Global 100 List highlights its global significance, ranking 21st and generating $548 million in revenue in 2022. However, this was slightly lower than the previous year’s revenue of $691 million.

Here is the historical revenue data:

  • $969M – 2020
  • $1.24B – 2019
  • $1.24B – 2018
  • $1.22B – 2017
  • $1.004B – 2016
  • $823M – 2015
  • $800M – 2014
  • $1.2B – 2012

The company started with a capital fund of 110 million yen. Over the years, the brand has expanded its operations significantly. As of December 2022, Pola employs 1,313 dedicated professionals.

Pola’s success can be attributed to its dedication to quality, innovation, and customer satisfaction.

History

Founded in 1929 by chemist Shinobu Suzuki in Shizuoka City, Pola’s origins trace back to a simple act of affection towards his wife. After noticing rough skin on her hands, Suzuki embarked on a journey to create a hand cream for her, marking the inception of Pola.

In 1946, Pola Cosmetics, Inc. was launched. The completion of the Shizuoka Plant in 1954 and the Pola Ginza Building in Tokyo in 1960 further propelled their growth. Meanwhile, the company’s foray into international markets began in 1958 with its expansion into Hong Kong.

The Yokohama Plant was completed in 1961 for mass production. And the company’s dedication to research and development was evident with the establishment of the Yokohama R&D Center in 1964.

In 1971, the Pola Gotanda Building became the new headquarters, while the Fukuroi Plant was completed in 1977. In recognition of their 50th anniversary, Pola established the Pola Foundation for the Promotion of Traditional Japanese Culture in 1979.

Pola also ventured into different industries. They made significant inroads into the health foods market in 1982 with their product, Saint Bijou, and entered the pharmaceutical business through a major investment in Kayaku Co., Ltd. in 1983.

In 2006, they established the holding company, Pola Orbis Holdings Inc. after launching “Pola the Beauty” premium esthetic salons in 2005. Pola Cosmetics, Inc. was then renamed Pola Inc. in 2007. Finally, Pola Orbis Holdings Inc. was listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in 2010.

With their new brand strategy, “Science. Art. Love.” Pola continues to impact the world of beauty and skincare.

Pola logoPin

Ownership and Top Leadership of Pola

The key executives of Pola Orbis Holdings Inc., the parent company, include the following:

  • Representative Director and Chairman – Satoshi Suzuki
  • Representative Director and President – Yoshikazu Yokote
  • Director and Vice President – Naoki Kume

And the key executives of Pola Inc. include the following:

  • Representative Director and President – Miki Oikawa
  • Director and Corporate Officer – Seiichi Takaya
  • Director and Corporate Officer – Akira Gogo
  • Director and Corporate Officer – Kazuhiro Nishikata

Regarding ownership, here are the key shareholders of Pola Orbis Holdings Inc.:

#NamePercentage
1Pola Art Foundation34.30%
2Satoshi Suzuki22.10%
3Baillie Gifford & Co.3.67%
4POLA Orbis Holdings Inc.3.34%
5Naoko Nakamura2.08%
6Nomura Asset Management Co., Ltd.1.52%
7Hiromi Suzuki1.36%
8William Blair Investment Management LLC0.93%
9The Vanguard Group, Inc.0.91%
10BlackRock Fund Advisors0.89%

The Pola Headquarters

The head office of Pola’s parent company, Pola Orbis Holdings Inc., is located at Pola Ginza Building 1-7-7 Ginza, Chuo-Ku,Tokyo 104-0061 Japan.

And the Pola Inc. headquarters is located at 2-2-3 Nishigotanda, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo 141-8523 Japan.

The company’s R&D center is located at 560 Kashio-cho in Yokohama, Kanagawa 244-0812.

They have a manufacturing plant located at 1234 Aino, Fukuroi-shi, Shizuoka 437-8765 Japan.


Section 2 – Business Model

In this section, we take a closer look at the company’s sales and marketing tactics, and uncover its competitive advantage in the marketplace.


How Pola Markets Its Services

Pola employs a combination of traditional and modern approaches to cater to the unique needs of its customers and deliver an exceptional experience. The company utilizes direct-selling with a limited extent of multi-level marketing, as well as conventional stores and B2B services.

Pola Inc. company operationsPin

One of Pola’s core marketing/ sales operations is its conventional door-to-door service, where independent Beauty Directors (independent sales agents) form long-term relationships with homemakers.

These dedicated professionals, who undergo prior training, provide personalized beauty consultations, makeup applications, and sales of Pola’s products. By offering close interactions, Beauty Directors build trust and deliver tailored solutions to meet customers’ individual skincare needs.

In addition, Pola’s Esthe-inn service supplies exclusive amenities to hotels and leisure facilities, enhancing customers’ stays with luxurious bath and skincare products.

While some items are exclusively for facility use, a selection is also available for purchase, allowing guests to bring the Pola experience into their own homes.

Pola further expands its reach through ‘Pola the Beauty’, a network of roadside stores that offer comprehensive esthetic treatments, cosmetic sales, and consulting services. These strategically located stores not only provide convenient access to Pola’s services but also elevate the brand’s visibility among urban customers.

The Number of Pola Beauty Directors

At the heart of Pola’s success lies its extensive network of dedicated beauty professionals known as Beauty Directors.

Back in 2016, the company revised its commission system and shifted its focus toward Beauty Directors who demonstrated exceptional professionalism and growth potential; hence, reducing the number of Beauty Directors from 130,000 in 2015 to approximately 42,000 by the end of 2016.

As of December 2021, Pola had around 33,000 salespersons. By December 2022, the company had around 27,000 salespersons.

How to Make Money on Pola

Pola offers opportunities for individuals to make money through its unique business model and membership programs.

One avenue is by becoming a Beauty Director, where you work as a self-employed entrepreneur. Pola signs consignment sales agreements with Beauty Directors, allowing them to earn sales commissions when products are sold, rather than having to purchase the products for resale like distributors.

To support the growth of these entrepreneurs, Pola provides a comprehensive training framework that equips them with beauty knowledge, techniques, and business management skills.

The training also includes career development and leadership training for shop and store management (to manage Pola’s physical shops), as well as human resources development.

It’s fully commission-based (earning 30% of the sales), but you’ll receive income support of about 40,000 yen or more monthly for a certain period of time.

Additionally, Pola offers a membership program for its customers, providing exclusive benefits and rewards. By registering for the Premium Pass, customers gain access to the latest beauty information and campaigns. They can accumulate mileage based on their shopping activities, and these miles can be exchanged for original gifts or special event invitations. The membership program has different tiers based on mileage accumulation, including (earn 1 mile for each ¥1 spent):

  1. Silver: 100,000 to 249,999 miles
  2. Gold: 250,000 to 499,999 miles
  3. Platinum: 500,000+ miles

Pola’s Compensation Model Explained

Unlike many other firms that operate on multiple levels, Pola has streamlined its MLM compensation model to work on just three levels.

Here, you start as a Beauty Director building personal connections with customers, and providing personalized guidance and recommendations. As you progress, you eventually become a Shop Owner. Out of these Shop Owners, the most talented individuals then take on the responsibility of leading multiple shops as Grand Owners.

Beauty Directors must achieve exceptional monthly sales, surpassing 1.5 million yen, to become independent Shop Owners. At this point, they can train Beauty Directors to increase their sales and earn commissions.

With no need to maintain an inventory of cosmetics, Pola’s sales force can focus on building relationships, providing excellent service, and achieving financial independence.

How to Become a Pola Beauty Director

To start your career as a Beauty Director, you must apply for the position when it’s advertised by a Pola shop, and complete the company’s training program.

How Much Money Can You Make With Pola?

A 2016 article in Nikkei Asia revealed that Beauty Directors bring in around 95% of Pola’s revenue.

Hence, the average revenue per salesperson might have been approximately $19,892.42 in 2021, since the company generated $691 million in revenue with 33,000 salespeople. And the commission (based on a 30% rate) per salesperson was probably approximately $5,967.72.

It’s important to note that commission amounts may vary based on individual sales performance.

Notable Beauty Director success stories include Miyoko Sugiyama, an 83-year-old saleswoman who leads a team and achieved monthly sales of 2.3 million yen, and Sayaka Honjo, a 76-year-old overseeing more than 90 shops with average monthly sales of 150 million yen.


Section 3 – Products

With an impartial lens, we examine Pola’s product collection, highlighting their features and functionalities. Through insightful data, we aim to shed light on the unique strengths that set Pola’s products apart.


Pola’s Products and Services

Pola offers an extensive product lineup and personalized care services, making it a go-to destination for those seeking solutions tailored to their unique needs.

Customers can explore an array of anti-aging care and whitening products that target specific skin concerns. The brand also extends its expertise to hotel amenities, providing luxurious bath and skincare items for an indulgent experience.

A standout feature of Pola is its APEX brand, which revolutionizes skincare through its innovative skin planning system.

By conducting a thorough skin analysis, Pola’s experts create custom-made products and care plans tailored to each individual’s skin concerns. With over 20.2 million data points on the skin, Pola’s extensive knowledge and expertise are designed to produce exceptional results.

What sets Pola apart is their innovative approach to customer care. Through “Environmental Forecast Care™,” they personalize their services based on individual skin analysis results and the study of customers’ living environments. This commitment to tailored experiences ensures that customers receive the most effective and suitable skincare solutions.

These products are available both at dedicated stores and major department stores nationwide, in Japan. Customers can choose from renowned brands like WRINKLE SHOT, WHITE SHOT, B.A, Red B.A, diem couleur, and V RESONATIC CREAM.

Product Testing and Certification

Pola’s dedication to quality is evident through its numerous accolades and certifications. In 2012, the company was granted the prestigious “Kurumin” next-generation certification mark from the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare.

This recognition solidifies Pola’s commitment to fostering a healthy and supportive work environment.

Furthermore, in 2014, Pola achieved the highest award at the 28th IFSCC Congress held in Paris, France. This international recognition highlights Pola’s groundbreaking research and development efforts in the field of cosmetics.

In addition to industry recognition, Pola has also been acknowledged for its diversity management practices. In 2015, the company received the Diversity Management Selection 100 Award, a commendation from the Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry.

Lawsuits and Independent Reviews

Various independent reviews and firsthand accounts suggest that the working environment at Pola may not be suitable for everyone. Some salespeople have reported challenges in meeting quotas and acquiring customers. Others have opted to leave the company and explore other job opportunities due to the demanding nature of the work.

However, the company has publicly expressed its focus on retaining only the most effective salespeople as it aggressively reduces the number of Beauty Directors.


Section 4 – Doubts and Misconceptions about Pola

In this section, we delve into the core concerns and misunderstood aspects of the company. We take an analytical approach to separating fact from fiction.


Which Countries Have the Highest Demand for POLA’s Products?

This Japanese beauty brand is experiencing remarkable growth in its overseas sales, driven primarily by the thriving market in China.

With a projected compound annual growth rate of 20% to 25% from 2021 to 2023, Pola’s expansion plans are set to further solidify its position in the global beauty industry. The company plans to set up approximately 120 stores in China by 2023.

Through targeted advertising campaigns and collaborations with influential Chinese celebrities and influencers, Pola has successfully cultivated a strong brand presence and garnered a dedicated following.

What are Some of the Key Ingredients Used in POLA’s Skincare Products?

Pola’s products leverage the benefits of key components like R.C Extract, Nao Extract, Rucinol, Ginseng X, Blackcurrant Extract, Sophora Root Extract Clear, Pomegranate Fruit Extract, Phytocerone, Soybean, and Asian ginseng extract.

These elements are meant to address diverse skincare objectives such as anti-aging, hydration, and brightening.


Section 5 – FAQs And Recap

In conclusion, we summarize some key concepts by answering frequently asked questions about Pola Inc.


What is Pola Inc.’s business model?

Pola Inc. offers a unique business model that combines direct-selling, multi-level marketing, and retail. It empowers individuals to become self-employed entrepreneurs known as Beauty Directors, who provide personalized beauty consultations and sell Pola’s products.

How has Pola Inc. evolved since its founding?

Since its inception in 1929, Pola Inc. has expanded significantly, from producing a simple hand cream to offering an extensive range of skincare and beauty products. The company has also ventured into the hospitality industry, supplying amenities to hotels, and established an international presence.

What makes Pola Inc.’s products and services unique?

Pola Inc. stands out for its personalized care services and innovative products like the APEX brand. The company conducts individual skin analysis and studies customers’ living environments to create custom-made products and care plans tailored to their unique skin concerns.

What are some ways to earn money with Pola Inc.?

Individuals can earn money with Pola Inc. by becoming a Beauty Director, working as self-employed entrepreneurs who earn commissions from product sales. Pola also offers a membership program where customers can accumulate miles based on their shopping activities, which can be exchanged for gifts or special event invitations.


Sources

Credits (images)

  1. Nature & Co
  2. Jeunesse
  3. Mary Kay

Author: Victor Nyorani

Victor Nyorani - Network Marketing Start

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