Kao USA knows the Tao to beautiful skin. The company, pronounced "cow," formulates and manufactures personal care products for men and women. Its widening portfolio of brands includes its flagship label Jergens, as well as Curél creams and lotions, John Frieda and Guhl hair care products, Bioré facial cleansers and strips, and Ban antiperspirants and deodorants, among others. Kao USA maintains operations in North America, Europe, Australia, and the Middle East, and markets its products in more than 50 countries. Founded in 1882 as the Jergens Soap Company, the business began by making primarily coconut oil soap. It became a subsidiary of Japan's Kao Corporation and adopted the Kao Brands name.
Begun as Jergens Soap Company in the US and now under the umbrella of a Japanese personal care products company, Kao USA extends the reach of its business from the Americas to Europe, the Middle East, and the Africa regions. Altogether, the company supplies its products to customers in more than 50 countries.
Product launches have helped to hold rivals P&G and Unilever at bay. Among them, Kao USA has rolled out a handful of products intended to answer common hair care complaints (such as frizziness, root touch-ups, and limp tresses), as well as boost the benefits of a sunless tan with anti-aging moisturizers and SPF protection.
Deeply rooted in North America, Kao USA has been working to expand its premium mass-market business to Europe. Kao USA is looking to leverage its existing good fortune in the UK, where the company has earned about a 10% share of the hair care products market. To this end, the company in 2012 established its European headquarters in Darmstadt as its largest European site. This is where the company manages its Goldwell and KMS California professional hair care brands and develops its John Frieda and Guhl brands.
The company also has a rising share of the personal care market in France, Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands. To this end, Kao USA rolled out its Jergens' lineup in India.
As part of an effort by its parent to reposition the company, the personal care products maker changed its name effective January 1, 2012, to Kao USA, Inc. The move consolidates Kao's beauty care subsidiaries in North America and Europe, leveraging the firm's experience and resources on a global scale.
Physically, as well, Kao USA moved to a downtown Cincinnati office in 2012 that spans more than 55,000 sq. ft. The offices house 200-plus employees focused on marketing, sales, and market research functions, as well as those centered on creative and administration.