SK-II is leaning into social commerce and gamification as part of a pop-up retail store in China.
The skincare brand, which is owned by Procter & Gamble, is tying a six-part animated series titled “VS” that was developed by its film studio, as well as a hub presenting content about social pressures facing women.
Centered around the concept of "The Line is the Ride," and building on SK-II’s #ChangeDestiny brand purpose, the store uses augmented reality and WeChat’s Mini Program to immerse consumers into the animated series. Outside the store, consumers can transport themselves into the “VS” world using their phones, as well as watch the films and engage with such experiences as battling an underwater creature alongside Olympic athlete Liu Xiang.
Upon entering the store, consumers can receive a personalized skin analysis using the company’s contactless and artificial intelligence-infused skincare analysis technology, known as the Mini Magic Scan. This tech employs facial recognition technology to detect skin fluctuations and assess skin stability around the eyes, cheeks and mouths. It provides personalized skin analysis and product recommendations in about three minutes, with no direct facial contact required.
The Social Retail pop-up is part of the brand’s ongoing retail experimentation that also includes stores in Tokyo, Shanghai and Singapore, all intended to enable consumers to purchase and learn about skincare without intimidation by merging digital and physical commerce (sometimes called “phygital").
Leveraging augmented reality, in particular, has been a rapidly growing trend for beauty brands, which have sought to better connect with consumers in stores as sampling and try-on services have disappeared or been reduced during the pandemic.
"Engagement in the beauty and skincare category has generally been 'tactile' in nature — what you can see, touch, feel,” said Sandeep Seth, global SK-II CEO, in a statement. “In these times of the pandemic, we want to provide our consumers contactless, gamified experience where she can gain inspiration and learn about her skin in a safe yet engaging way."
Located in Haitang Bay Duty Free Shopping Centre in Hainan, China, the store will be open through the end of the month.
The brand has also launched a virtual SK-II city that ties into the VS series, which is based on the real-life experiences of Xiang, as well as fellow Olympic athletes Simone Biles, Ishikawa Kasumi, Ayaka Takahashi, Misaki Matsutomo, Mahina Maeda, and the Hinotori Nippon Japan volleyball team.
Set in Tokyo, consumers can participate in branded experiences in the virtual city, as well as explore landmarks like Mount Fuji.