‘Ultimate consumer experience’: How P&G’s SK-II turned to social retail to create contactless engagement with shoppers

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

SK-II has tapped into social retail to engage with beauty consumers. [SK-II]
SK-II has tapped into social retail to engage with beauty consumers. [SK-II]

Related tags digital Procter & gamble phygital Travel retail

Skin care brand SK-II has tapped into social retail to engage with beauty consumers who have increased their time spent online in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Procter & Gamble (P&G) -owned brand recently hosted its first-ever social retail pop-up in Hainan, China. It ran for the whole month of May at the Haitang Bay Duty-Free Shopping Centre in partnership with the China Duty-Free Group

Social retail is a concept that integrates physical retail with online and social media interaction and sharing for a truly omnichannel experience.

“Our consumers are expecting so much more from brands and businesses. There is so much more on their minds than just skin and beauty,”​ said Elizabeth Caton, global vice president of SK-II Travel Retail.

“They have a heightened social consciousness and believe and trust in brands that have a voice and take a stand on issues that matter to them… It is no longer about selling products, creating ads and driving promotions but engaging her—head, heart and soul.”

Caton told CosmeticsDesign-Asia​ that this change in consumer behaviour guided the brand’s strategy with the SK-II Social Retail Pop-Up Store.

While social retail has always been a part of the company’s ongoing global innovation to transform retail experiences, this journey has been accelerated since the outbreak of COVID-19.

“Engagement in the skin care category has generally been tactile in nature—what you can see, touch and feel. With the pandemic, we know our consumers are spending more time online, on social platforms, and have been showing a higher interest in skin care than ever before,” ​said Caton.

She added: “It is critical for us to create a contactless retail experience where she can learn about her skin and experience our products in safe, meaningful and engaging ways. The SK-II Social Retail Pop-Up Store that combines augmented reality and gamified skin care experiences were designed precisely to do just that.”

Games and tech

The pop-up concept was centred around SK-II’s latest six-part animated anthology series – ‘VS’ – which tackles social pressures impacting women today through the inspiring destiny-changing stories of top Olympic athletes.

Through WeChat Mini Program, visitors could watch the films and participate in a larger-than-life augmented reality experience – battling an underwater kaiju​ alongside Olympic athlete Liu Xiang to keep them engaged even while waiting in line.

“At the SK-II Social Retail Pop-up Store, we wanted to make sure she is engaged, entertained and inspired at every single moment. Even when queuing up to pay, waiting doesn’t feel like waiting,” ​Canton explained.

Furthermore, the pop-up features SK-II's latest contactless skincare counselling innovation, the Mini Magic Scan, an AI-enabled tool that analyses skin and gives product recommendation in three minutes.

“Ultimately, it’s not tech and innovation for the sake of it, but to build the ultimate consumer experience and two-way communication with our consumers on platforms they are on, with new content and retail experience formats that they can engage in and enjoy,” ​said Canton.

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