Our Story

Chifure's longstanding commitment to the production of essential quality cosmetics at affordable prices began with the conviction that cosmetics could be excellent without being expensive. Since its beginnings, Chifure has taken pride in its determination to anticipate customer needs and provide quality cosmetics at reasonable prices.

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1947-1959

Shimada Matsuo on the Japan Cosmetic Industry Association’s tour to the United States and Europe in 1959

Shimada Matsuo's Vision

Recognizing Chifure founder Shimada Matsuo’s broad cosmetics industry experience and knowledge, Mitsubishi Oil Co., Ltd. appointed him to direct sales at their cosmetics company established in 1947. Shimada acquired the company in 1951. From the beginning, he aimed to offer safe and cost effective cosmetics, dismissing the image of cosmetics as necessarily luxurious and expensive. He introduced door-to-door sales to reduce distribution costs.

Shimada also encouraged in-house ingredient development in order to further bring down production costs. Under his leadership, the company created pioneering fragrance-free products. Shimada's commitment to inexpensive cosmetics was formed during a research tour of the United States and Europe in 1959. After that, he set himself to the task of offering products priced at ¥100, one third the conventional price of cosmetics in Japan at the time.

1950

Dedication to Customers

Shimada was first and foremost interested in serving customers and anticipating their needs. He observed that, rather than focusing on product quality and effectiveness, cosmetics companies generally tended to exploit women's psychology to gain sales.

He countered these prevailing cosmetic industry business practices with a search for responsible and innovative sales approaches. His efforts resulted in a breakthrough in the cosmetics industry.

 
Shimada Matsuo (1904 -1969)

Events in this period

  • 1947

    Chifure predecessor company established

  • 1951

    Shimada Matsuo takes over the company

  • 1954

    Launch of door-to-door sales

1960-1969

¥100 cosmetics, as launched in 1962

¥100 cosmetics

In 1960s Japan, the cosmetics industry targeted affluent women and focused on luxury. The price of cosmetics was inflated by large advertising budgets necessary to build brand image competitive with imported products. Shimada, however, envisioned cosmetic products as daily necessities rather than luxuries. Eschewing advertising and reducing production and packaging costs, he was able to realize his vision of products priced at ¥100.

Although sales were poor at first, a leading magazine dedicated a product research article to help change that. It drew the interest of the National Federation of Women's Regional Organizations (Zen-Chifuren). Eventually, distribution of Shimada's products by members of Zen-Chifuren broke the 'expensive is better' misconception.

1960

A Propitious Luncheon

Impressed by Shimada's philosophy of affordable quality cosmetics and his idea of ¥100 cosmetic products, the National Federation of Regional Women's Organizations (Zen Chifuren), Japan's largest consumer organization, showed interest in lending support.

A discussion between Shimada and Zen Chifuren representatives over lunch confirmed their shared vision and common objectives. They wished to offer quality products at reasonable prices, to be forthright in marketing, and dispense with the emphasis on price inflation based on an overly-glamorous image and packaging.

A joint venture partnership was formed in 1968, with Zen Chifuren substantially responsible for product distribution. Chifure as a brand name is derived from the Zen Chifuren organization name and reflects their involvement. By 1971, the Chifure brand had gained sufficient recognition to be released to the general market.

 
Chifure sales counter, 1971

Events in this period

  • 1962

    ¥100 cosmetics launched

  • 1967

    Extensive media coverage

  • 1968

    'Chifure Cosmetics' brand launched, certified by the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Hygiene Research

1970-1979

Products with ingredients displayed on the label

Disclosure of Ingredients

Shimada felt strongly that consumers had a right to know exactly what was contained in products applied directly to the skin, because skin can be sensitive to certain ingredients. Chifure began fully disclosing ingredients on products in 1968, well before Japanese law required this in 2001, and pre-dating the 1975 US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules.

In 1978, the company additionally displayed the date of manufacture on the product container. While the Japanese cosmetic industry was reluctant to have a mandate on disclosure, Chifure's action was appreciated by consumers and surely was an example that influenced Japanese regulatory requirements.

1970

The 1973 Oil Shock and Refillable Cosmetics

Chifure's introduction of refillable containers emerged as an innovative solution to inflation and other difficulties, including the shortage of plastic containers, caused by the oil crisis of 1973.

Refillable containers addressed the pressing issues of conserving limited resources and protecting the environment while keeping quality stable and prices down. Chifure's innovation stimulated resource conservation in the cosmetics industry, and devising various types of refill packaging, including for liquids, further expanded conservation possibilities.

 
Pioneering cosmetic refill

Events in this period

  • 1971

    General market sales of Chifure Cosmetics

  • 1973

    Declaration on ¥100 price maintenance

  • 1974

    Refillable containers introduced

  • 1978

    Initiation of product packaging disclosing names and quantities of ingredients, and date of manufacture

1980-1989

Pioneering environment-friendly hairspray

Hairspray and the Global Environment

Chifure's non-chlorofluorocarbon (non-CFC) hairspray, setting lotion, and hair treatment, all launched in 1981, were selected as EcoMark products recommended by the Japan Environment Agency and approved by the Japan Environment Association for certification as environmentally conscious products contributing to environmental preservation.

Chifure’s hairspray refillable container with recycled PET resin was EcoMark certified in 1992.

1980

Consumer Consultation Office

Setting up a consumer consultation office in 1980, Chifure again led the way in communication with customers. A toll free User Service Desk number initiated in 1992 made communication and consultation even easier.

Customer comments and suggestions from over two thousand calls a month on this line also provide valuable information, in addition to what consultants hear at the point of sale, for company management to analyze and assess customer opinion, and to take positive action.

 
Consultation with customers at point of sale

Events in this period

  • 1980

    Fragrance-free products introduced
    Consumer Consultation Office established

  • 1981

    Non-Freon hair spray introduced

  • 1982

    Completion of new factory and corporate relocation to Kawagoe City, Saitama

1990-1999

Awards and certificates as a superior consumer-oriented company

Minister of International Trade and Industry Award

In 1992, Chifure received the Minister of International Trade and Industry Award for Outstanding Consumer-oriented Corporations. This award was initiated in 1990 by the Industrial Policy Bureau of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) (now the Ministry of Trade, Economy and Industry).

Evaluation is based on a six-month examination of a company's management policy in terms of quality assurance and awareness of and response to consumer needs and complaints. Chifure was recognized for its affordable cosmetics, disclosure of ingredients, reasonable packaging, and minimal advertising.

1990

Ayaka Brand

During the so-called 'bubble economy' of the late 1980s and early 1990s in Japan, interest in luxury goods was high and consumption soared. Cosmetics with special formulations were selling easily for high prices. Chifure introduced its Ayaka brand in this sales environment.

The brand is sold at counters in department stores and general merchandise stores, and targeted to skincare for the mature customer. Each customer can experience the added benefit of individual consultation at the point of sale. Ayaka products continue to break boundaries by offering all the exclusive luxuries of a high-end brand topped off with a sensibly competitive price point.

 
Ayaka brand, as launched in 1991

Events in this period

  • 1991

    Ayaka brand introduced

  • 1992

    Minister of Trade and Industry Award as outstanding consumer-oriented company

  • 1996

    Line of quasi-drug cosmetic products introduced

2000-2016

 

Ad Adverse Chifure Advertises

Chifure placed its first mass media advertisement in 2003, in a shift from its long-held corporate commitment to refrain from advertising. The continued popularity of Chifure products through thirty-five years without advertising attests to their quality. However, a sea of proliferating cosmetic brands and a media scene marked by information overload, presented a challenge.

The company decided to use advertising to re-assert itself as a reasonably priced quality brand of products geared to people of all ages. Chifure's TV ads and advertising campaign allowed the company to achieve this goal and gain loyal customers.

2000

Over 40 years of Product Refills

Chifure introduced refillable containers in 1974, and celebrated the 40th anniversary of this innovation in 2014. The actual anniversary date, June 25, is registered and officially designated by the Japan Anniversary Association as "Refillable Container Day."

This commemorative day is a reminder of the need to protect the environment. Chifure is dedicated to expanding its line-up of easy to use eco-friendly refills.

 
Ever popular cosmetic refills

Events in this period

  • 2003

    Policy shift on advertising; first commercial ad appears

  • 2010

    ISO14001:2004 management system achieved

  • 2011

    Bio-polyethylene containers adapted
    Sponsorship of AS Elfen Sayama (currently Chifure AS Elfen Saitama) women's soccer team contracted

  • 2013

    Chifure Women Entrepreneur Support System instituted

  • 2015

    Welfare and training center established at Hanno City, Saitama

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