SK-ii AND china duty free group collaboration
‘The Line is the Ride’
“Engagement in the beauty and skincare category has generally been tactile in nature – what you can see, touch, feel,” says Global SK-II Chief Executive Officer Sandeep Seth.
“In these times of the pandemic, we want to provide our consumer contactless, gamified experiences where she can gain inspiration and learn about her skin in a safe yet engaging way.”
Underpinned by that sense of mission within a fast-evolving, COVID-19 consumer and commercial landscape, SK-II set about conceptualising an activation that would transcend anything seen before in travel retail.
In China Duty Free Group (CDFG), operator of the acclaimed CDF Mall at the magnificent Sanya International Duty Free Shopping Complex in Haitang Bay, the prestige skincare brand found the perfect partner.
Not only was CDFG’s offshore duty free business on Hainan island soaring but the expansive CDF Mall environment and the retailer’s commitment to high-impact collaborations offered the ideal opportunity to make a grand statement not just in-store but to a vast audience beyond.
That statement found voice on 1 May when SK-II and CDFG unveiled the brand’s first-ever ‘Social Retail’ pop-up store at CDF Mall and at Haikou Mova Shopping Mall.
Cleverly, SK-II has turned the perennial turn-off of the queue into part of the experience – with a concept themed ‘The Line is the Ride’.
“SK-II is truly leading the way with the SK-II STUDIO, its ‘VS’ Series and ‘Social Retail’ pop-up store. It is truly impressive how they bring together purpose, brand storytelling and retail-tainment to bring all eyes of the world to Hainan.”
– Charles Chen, President, China Duty Free Group
Two features are offered to keep consumers engaged – before entering the pop-up, shoppers are prompted to start interacting with a WeChat Mini Program. Then, while waiting to pay, they can watch SK-II STUDIO’s latest ‘VS’ Series and join their favourite Olympic athlete, Chinese swimmer Liu Xiang, in a larger-than-life animated augmented reality experience battling a ‘kaiju’ (Japanese for ‘strange beast’).
The physical impact is just as striking. From all around the vast mall, the pop-up stands out through the addition of giant fabric banners hanging from the ceiling, while a scrim above the pop-up space offers a discreet glimpse of the activity within.
It also shows off a dramatically powerful projection of an animated version of Liu Xiang swimming through the water, complemented by bold SK-II branding designed to capture the attention of shoppers throughout the mall.
All of this has a wider goal, though, than simply driving sales and brand awareness. SK-II aims to also immerse consumers in the cinematic universe of the ‘VS’ Series, which seeks to inspire women around the world to #CHANGEDESTINY (see page 8).
As noted elsewhere in this publication, SK-II STUDIO is the prestige skincare brand’s first film studio division and content hub, dedicated to tackling societal pressures that women face through the power of film and storytelling.
“In these times of the pandemic, we want to provide our consumer with a contactless, gamified experience where she can gain inspiration and learn about her skin in a safe yet engaging way.”
– Sandeep Seth, Chief Executive Officer, Global SK-II
The SK-II ‘Social Retail’ pop-up store in Haitang Bay and the activation in Haikou Mova Shopping Mall mark a new milestone in SK-II’s global innovation journey to transform beauty and skincare retail experiences in a safe, engaging and meaningful way in these unprecedented times.
CDFG President Charles Chen, who has overseen the retailer’s remarkable rise over recent years to become the world’s number one travel retailer by sales in 2020 (it ranked 12th five years earlier and just 19th a decade ago – source: The Moodie Davitt Report Top 25 Travel Retailers) is delighted with the ambition and execution of the collaboration.
“We are very pleased with our strong and long-standing partnership with SK-II to bring world-class experiences to our shoppers in Haitang Bay,” he says. “SK-II is truly leading the way with the SK-II STUDIO, its ‘VS’ Series and ‘Social Retail’ pop-up store. It is truly impressive how they bring together purpose, brand storytelling and retail-tainment to bring all eyes of the world to Hainan.”
Global SK-II Chief Executive Officer Sandeep Seth echoes the sentiments on the partnership, noting: “We are thrilled to launch SK-II’s first ‘Social Retail’ pop-up in Hainan inspired by our brand purpose #CHANGEDESTINY and the newest instalment by SK-II STUDIO – the ‘VS’ Series – marking yet another first in our partnership with China Duty Free Group.”
A PHYGITAL EXPERIENCE ON YOUR MOBILE
In a social media-dominated age, SK-II has made the mobile phone core to the whole phygital experience. It’s a case of See/Scan/Play as prominently displayed QR codes along the pop-up store allow consumers to access different types of content and augmented reality experiences that integrate with the visuals on the wall and bring them to life.
Special edition collectible pins are complimentary while stocks last for every visitor who signs in on the SK-II Hainan WeChat Mini Program. “Waiting doesn’t have to feel like waiting,” says SK-II.
Upon entering, visitors can enjoy a personalised skin analysis with SK-II’s latest contactless skincare counselling innovation – the Mini Magic Scan. An AI-enabled skin analysis tool that allows visitors to gain understanding of their skin strengths and potential, unlock their skin age and receive product recommendations in just three minutes.
The technology is impressive and, importantly, contactless. No direct facial contact is needed as the Mini Magic Scan (smaller and more convenient than previous incarnations) can detect fluctuation of skin at pixel level and assess the stability of skin by homing in on three zones – eye, cheeks and mouth using facial recognition.
SK-II says that the SK-II ‘Social Retail’ pop-up store is part of the brand’s ongoing foray into retail innovation centred on a global transformation to connect with a new generation of consumers. Those consumers yearn for more meaningful experiences with the brands they know and trust.
As a ‘global learning lab’ to explore new ways of retail through advanced technology in real-world retail formats, SK-II has launched several Future X Smart Stores in Tokyo, Shanghai, Singapore, in department stores, pop-ups, travel retail and even at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and China International Import Expo (CIIE).
Through creating engaging phygital skincare 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.
It achieves that by offering her options to browse, shop and learn about her skin at her own pace and on her own terms, in a safe, engaging yet meaningful way.
From social media to social purpose; from gamified experiences to Mini Magic Scan; from AI to AR to to ‘VS’, the Hainan collaboration between SK-II and CDFG represents a hugely ambitious play and one underpinned by an outstanding cause.
‘Social Retail’ has truly come of age in Hainan.