Tangle Teezer: Untangling the Japanese Market

“Our products are real examples of British design, and all of our brushes are manufactured in Britain. Our British branding is so strong and this is so important to us and the Japanese market.”

Shaun Pulfrey, Tangle Teezer – Inventor, and Founder

British Design and Made in Britain Finds Popularity in Japan

Shaun Pulfrey is the perfect poster boy for the British Government’s GREAT campaign. Using his 30-year experience as a colourist in the hairdressing industry to create his own innovative method of untangling his clients’ hair, the Tangle Teezer was born. Launching in 2007, the brand, which prides itself on being Made in Britain, has found phenomenal success in 80 countries across the world.

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A stint on the famous TV show Dragon’s Den helped boost brand recognition, but it was word of mouth and a positive response on social media that really made the difference. Tangle Teezer has a big celebrity following and also has backing from the beauty industry, giving it that extra boost.

Many companies find Japan to be a challenging market, but Tangle Teezer appears to have found the perfect formula for success here. As the 2nd biggest beauty market in the world, Japan is highly lucrative, and Gemma Clarke, Chief Marketing Officer of the brand, reveals, “with distributors in 65 countries, we never approached any of them – they all came to us.” Such is the brand power of this very modern British invention. Their business in Japan is doubling every year as it is a good quality product and delivers exactly what it claims to on the package.

E-Commerce Allowed Tangle Teezer to Test the Japanese Market

The “princess brush,” as it is known in Japan due to the fact that members of the British royal family are known to use it, can be found in several distribution channels including, Amazon and other E-commerce sites, hair salons, variety shops such as Plaza and Tokyu Hands, and TV shopping channels such as QVC. “Amazon was a great way for us to test the market,” says Clarke, “and visiting Japan really helped us to understand the barriers to market entry so we could circumvent them.

Shaun Pulfrey considers his distributors to be true partners. “Communication, trust and patience are so important,” he says, “as is the need to work as a team.” “If you establish a good relationship from the start, the distributor will always do a wonderful job,” he adds. “You need to choose professional people to work with, someone who will represent and look after the brand.”

The brand’s Made in Britain label is one of its fortes, as is its constant innovation – Pulfrey is always thinking of ways to take the brand one step higher.

Design and Innovation are Keys to Success

The ergonomic designs of the brushes, as well as the variety of colours and patterns make them desirable products at reasonable price points, so it comes as no surprise that one brush is sold every 3 seconds. “Women tell us that it has changed their lives,” says Pulfrey, “and that is what is truly amazing about our story.”

What’s next for the brand? “A brush revolution!” exclaims Pulfrey. Japan currently ranks at 6th place in the Tangle Teezer’s worldwide sales count, but it is rising rapidly. The eagerly awaited Blow-Styling hairbrush may create an even more meteoric rise in the Japanese market.


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Tangle Teezer Case Study