New campaigns are helping SK-II reinvent how cosmetics are sold. Source: Shutterstock

New campaigns are helping SK-II reinvent how cosmetics are sold. Source: Shutterstock

P&G’s SK-II uses digital to reinvent the cosmetics experience

SELLING cosmetics looks easy from afar. A bunch of high-quality (and shiny) products, a good set of display units in malls and airports, and the support of celebrities. For decades, that has been the winning formula.

However, in the digital age, things are changing. The cosmetics business is on the verge of a revolution which is converting companies in this space into technology businesses.

Stop and think about it for a second.

A couple of years ago, you wouldn’t think cosmetics companies would make a debut in the technology space. Cut to January 2019 and the grand CES event was flooded with cosmetics giants showcasing digital beauty innovations.

It’s a remarkable change from a business standpoint, so Tech Wire Asia got in touch with SK-II’s Global VP Sandeep Seth to learn about how the company is re-inventing the cosmetics experience with technology.

The P&G-owned cosmetics company was among those that showcased some interesting innovations at the CES event this year, including the Future X Smart Store.

“We created the Future X Smart Store to transform the beauty retail experience as part of our global innovation journey.

“Since our first Future X Smart Store that launched in May 2018 in Tokyo, we have launched several Smart Stores in Shanghai, Singapore as well as another in Tokyo at the end of 2018.

“We also debuted the Future X Smart Store at CES 2019 earlier this year. We’ve gotten great traction among consumers, media and influencers for the Future X Smart Store.”

Essentially, the company uses the Future X Smart Store as a global learning lab exploring advanced technologies in the retail space.

Through a seamless “phygital” retail environment, visitors can explore immersive, personalized mixed media experiences that merge the physical and digital to learn about their skin in a way never possible before.

“We wanted to provide shoppers with a “phygital” retail environment where they could explore mixed media retail experiences that merge the physical and digital in a world that is neither analog nor virtual but something that is in between to learn about their skin in a way never possible before”

The Future X Smart Store features several “phygital” experiences.

The journey begins with the “The Art of You”, a large-scale digital wall that reads visitor’s facial expressions as well as head, eye and mouth movements.

Each expression correlates to a different color scheme, while eye blinks trigger energy lines to pass across the screen, generating custom art pieces.

Unlike typical skin scans which require direct facial contact, in the Future X Smart Store, visitors can get their skin analyzed comfortably and remotely while sitting in individual booths. An interactive skincare wall unlocks their skin analysis results with a mere read of their face.

Through these “phygital” experiences, SK-II hopes to take the intimidation and pressure out of shopping for skincare in the offline retail space and give control back to the consumer by giving her options to browse, shop and learn about her skin at her own pace and on her own terms.

While it seems as though the Future X Smart Store is a roaring success, the company seems to understand that in the digital world, things change quickly — which is why the company is clear that it wants to continue to chase smarter and more intelligent innovations that wow customers and grow the business.

“It’s not about the big fish eating the small, but the fast eating the slow. The SK-II team is extremely agile and is moving very fast.”

“For our first Future X Smart Store in Tokyo we started work in Nov and we launched in May. With our second Future X Smart Store in Shanghai, we cut that time in half – we started work in end May or early June and launched in August.”

Seth urges his team to move more swiftly as each project is completed and the team learns acquires new knowledge and skills.

Speed, in the cosmetics business, is a competitive edge given the short attention span that keeps getting shorter as a result of the flood of innovations and attractions in the industry.

“We’re trying to go even faster, to keep bringing new things and improving with each iteration, providing entertainment while bringing utility and really transforming the retail experience.”

At the end of the day, technology seems to have disrupted even the cosmetics industry, and those that want to continue to win customer’s hearts and a share of their wallet must pioneer exciting technology solutions before customers demand it.

Given the exciting showcase by cosmetics companies from across the world at the CES 2019 event this year, it seems as though companies understand this well.

“It’s an exciting journey. We’re learning and improving and we’re only at the beginning,” said an excited Seth keen on staying at the forefront of innovations in the industry.