Loved by 75% of Japanese women, brown eye shadow holds the secret to their world of eye makeup
Nov 13, 2018 · 5 min read

Brown or beige colors occupy 75% of all eyeshadow sales in Japan (according to a research by Shiseido Maquillage) and two Shiseido brands, Maquillage and IPSA, have penetrated into this market one after the other by means of their digital-based “experience” strategies.

“Your brown of destiny” by Shiseido’s Maquillage

According to a research by Maquillage, even with brown and beige eyeshadows dominating 75% of the market. 45.5% of women say they are not satisfied with their current brown eyeshadow. In response to this issue, the R&D team at Maquillage began an research into the reasons brown and beige eyeshadows are preferred amongst Japanese users.

Based on the analysis of user responses, reasons such as “they fit well with my eyes and are easy to use” came to the fore. However, they learned that the main reason and crucial factor was how these colors make their pupils look bigger.

So how come eyes look bigger with brown colors? Research says that even though Japanese pupils each have a unique color and brightness, practically all of them are a shade of brown. 120 photographs of each individual’s unique brown pupils were laid out on a distribution chart. A brown eyeshadow concept for each one was created. It was from here that a specific product development began.

Maquillage Dramatic Styling Eyes

The slogan for the promotion was “Find your own brown of destiny.” They also developed a digital tool that helps users determine the color that suits them best.

Meanwhile, for in-store customers, a tool for measuring pupil color was set up two months prior to the product’s release, along with introductions to the product through consultant staff. Having satisfyingly experienced finding their “brown color of destiny”, a wave of customers unanimously reserved their copy of the new product.

Pupil Color Measurement App

A month prior to the product’s release, a smartphone application allowing a consumer to diagnose their own pupil color was launched. Just by snapping a selfie, the app would show the results of the color diagnosis within several seconds. Then it would propose one out of a selection of five brown eyeshadow palettes — Orange Caramel, Raspberry Mocha, Rich Café Latte, Dark Espresso, and Chocolat Cappuccino. The recommended palettes would not only match the color of their pupils but also make eyes more well-defined.

What’s interesting is that the tool’s suggested palettes were not necessarily the ones the customers themselves preferred. This fascinated them so much that comments such as “My favorite palette is Raspberry Mocha, but Chocolat Cappuccino was selected for me,” and “It was hard to choose between the color I like and the color selected, so I got both,” spread across social media. In a blink of an eye, “searching for my brown color of destiny” went viral. More and more people were buying two of the products. Sales accelerated eventually doubling last year’s figures.

One key to success here was not the use of mass media advertising, but the direct engagement with users through their smartphones.

72 varieties to choose from IPSA’s “Brown for addressing eye concerns”

On the other end, IPSA is responding to people’s eye concerns and color-matching with an assortment of 72 varieties of brown eyeshadow. These 72 varieties are derived from combining 4 types of “Eye Reshaper” (eyeshadow primer) and 18 types of “Eye Shade” (eyeshadow).

Eye Reshaper is a correction color for dealing with concerns related to eye appearance such as “hidden double lids,” “puffy eye,” and “sunken eye.” It can be more effective when it is used in combination with the Eye Shade.

IPSA Eye Reshaper and Eye Shade

IPSA is a well-known brand for its personalized counseling by the store staff using skincare and makeup diagnostic tool called “IPSAlyzer.” It measures one’s skin type, color, and complexion. By using the IPSAlyzer, customers could select among 72 varieties the brown color that suits them the most.

Aside from the IPSAlyzer, a software called 10-Pictures was developed by BBStone Design Psychology Unit, a startup from Chiba University. It helps users find a new color that they may not have expected to look good on their eyes.

10-Pictures has categories such as “DRINK”, “FASHION”, “PLANTS”, and “FOOD”. Random images from these categories are shown. The user picks one photo from each of the ten pairs of random photos based on their intuition. The system determines and displays how the person feels that day and their preferred image of themselves. This is the first time in the cosmetics industry where a person’s mood takes part in a makeup diagnostic tool. This hit the spot prompting its users to flood social media with positive comments. The product became a huge success.


Digital marketing that sticks close to consumers.

Although it was the first time for project leaders of both Maquillage and IPSA to handle digital marketing, they both have extensive experience in retail sales promotion. This background of having insight into the real needs and desires of consumers and translating this user experience into digital tools led to the success of both projects.

Original text (Japanese): Megumi Hattori is a digital magazine in Japan that overviews and analyzes current movements of beauty industry focusing on technology and digital marketing.

Written by is a digital magazine in Japan that overviews and analyzes current movements of beauty industry focusing on technology and digital marketing. is a digital magazine in Japan that overviews and analyzes current movements of beauty industry focusing on technology and digital marketing.