Founded in 1887 as Kao (face) Soap Company, Ltd. by Tomiro Nagase, the company introduced its first soap product in 1890, selling it with the motto "A Clean Nation Prospers." That same year Kao adopted its crescent-moon logo. By the end of the 1920s, Kao had developed coconut alcohol-based synthetic detergents, and after World War II, began manufacturing heavy-duty detergents.
From early on, Kao employed at least 25 percent of its workers in research, particularly in the field of surface technology. Early research in the properties of oils and fats, the basic elements in soap, allowed Kao to expand its product line quickly to include finishing products, polishing agents, waxes, insecticides, antiseptics, fungicides, and deodorants.
In the early 1960s the company persuaded its wholesalers to establish jointly owned companies, called hansha, which would exclusively distribute Kao products. This system greatly simplified the usually complicated way that products moved from manufacturers to consumers in Japan, and provided Kao with competitive advantages, such as getting products onto store shelves faster and maintaining lighter inventories.
During the 1980s, its products Merries diapers, Attack detergent, Biore daily skincare and Biore U daily body care, Curel (1986) and Sofina cosmetics were launched. During this time, Kao engaged in several joint ventures (haircare in Europe, Nivea in Japan with Beiersdorf), and acquisitions (Andrew Jergens Company in 1988, Goldwell AG in 1989) in North America and Europe. During this period, Kao also expanded to the manufacture of floppy disks.
During the 1990s and 2000s, the company expanded into China and Vietnam—countries that, during that time, were opening up their economies to the rest of the world.
Today, Kao Corporation is one of Japan's leaders in personal care products, cosmetics, laundry and cleaning products, hygiene products, and bath additives. Kao also manufactures and markets fatty chemicals, edible oils, and specialty chemicals, and is one of the world's leading suppliers of information technology products and services. The company has operations in over 26 countries in Asia, North America, Europe, and elsewhere.
According to en.wikipedia and referenceforbusiness.com