Unilever, Procter & Gamble...And Kao?

The Japanese manufacturer wants to be a global power

If the Japanese are justly famous for discouraging innovation, Kao Corp. is a mold-breaker. While most of the rest of Corporate Japan slogs through another year of recession, the Tokyo-based maker of household products is about to report record profits, of more than $300 million, for the year to Mar. 31. One reason: a cleverly designed cosmetic device aimed at young consumers with complexion problems. Since its debut two years ago, the Biore Pore pack has spread through global markets like fire through a parched forest. Suddenly, Kao is running with giants Procter & Gamble Co. and Unilever Group. "If you compare their products," says Toshihiko Ginbayashi, an analyst at Morgan Stanley Japan Ltd., "Kao surpasses P&G in most categories."

To continue reading this article you must be a Bloomberg Professional Service Subscriber.