Interacting with Young ‘rikejo’


‘rikejo’ is a shortened form of Rikei joshi which in Japanese means ‘women in science’.

One of the biggest companies in the cosmetic industry today, L’Oreal has a highly successful awards program called ‘For Women in Science’ which it has been running for the past 12 years. There has even been Nobel Prize winners among the recipients of this prize.

As a judge on the panel of this prize(1), I have had the opportunity to play an active part on its here in Japan. Unfortunately, I was unable to participate in this year’s award ceremony held in Paris because I was busy with my work at the NAIIC.

However, I was able to attend the special awards ceremony held here in Japan and meet the young Rikejo who were in attendance. Ms Miki Ando, world figure skate champion, received a special prize this year; Ms Meisa Kuroki, one of top TV/movie stars, was the recipient a year earlier, and this I think is proves that L’Oreal does things in style. Interestingly, it was at the ceremony last year (unfortunately, I have not had the opportunity to introduce this in my blog) that the word Rikejo started gaining currency, and this has developed into the award ceremony that it is today.

Held on the day of the General Election for the Lower House of Representatives, there was a contest where around 50 students from universities and high schools participated. Called ‘Team Match-Up:What If…You Could Create Your Own Cosmetics!’, the participants were divided into 8 teams and asked to dream up of new cosmetics. The well-practiced participants were able to come up with novel ideas within 45 minutes despite being put into random groups and then make their case in a 2-3 minute presentation. I got into the action by tweeting my thoughts as well.

There were three prizes in all, two presented by the panelists and one by the participants. Amazingly, the verdicts were the same. The products had daring and innovative names, and all the presentations were delivered with confidence and convincing. Just as I said, you’d better watch out for the awesome Rikejo!.

First Prize
Product name: Pheromone Eyeliners to Woo the Opposite Sex!
? Baseliner equipped multifunctional eyeliner.
? Different eyeliners for each sex (differentiate on basis of fragrance and packaging)
? Introduce as the world’s first fragrant eyeliner!
? Encourage the spread of cosmetics in Japanese men a la Korean men.

Panelist Special Prize
Product name: Butterfly
? Combine lip cream and lipstick for a beautiful color.
? Make it possible to customize the product through the use of stackable and interchangeable parts.
? Make it possible to use each of the parts on its own.
? Allow for decoration of the exterior of the product.
? Attach a removable mirror.

Best Cosmetic Award ( chosen by the votes of the rikejo)
Product name: ‘雌’ girl lip stain (「雌」is Chinese character for female)
? The must-have product for that all-important Christmas date (Makes him fall in love, but doesn’t fall off!)
? Target girls and women in the range of 15 to 20+ years of age.
? Combine the innocence of a young girl with a hint of mysterious allure. For women who want it all.
? Make it  an affordable luxury at a price of 1800 yen.

What do you think? L’Oreal is certainly going about its business with panache!