Visitors learn about SK-II products at an international trade fair in Shanghai. MA JIAN / FOR CHINA DAILY

SK-II brand finds new purpose, digital market channels to satisfy consumers

Despite masks covering part of their face to protect themselves from the novel coronavirus, beauty and health conscious consumers in China do not neglect skin care and, in fact, prefer environmentally friendly products, which encourages cosmetics companies to innovate in the supply of raw materials. and use digital technologies such as artificial intelligence in production.

This heightened environmental awareness in the COVID-19 era among consumers has prompted Procter & Gamble to redefine the focus of its SK-II skin care brand.

P&G has broadened the reach of “Change Destiny,” its motto for SK-II, said Sandeep Seth, CEO of SK-II Global.

“The past six to nine months have shown the world what can happen to the environment (under certain circumstances) and how big an impact it can have on everyone’s life,” he said. “People are talking about the new normal because so much has changed.”

Without disclosing the relevant numbers, Seth said 2019 was a good year for SK-II in China. “We exceeded our target.

Although sales slumped in the first half of this year due to COVID-related disruptions, the second half saw a recovery thanks to robust domestic consumption due to limited overseas travel which invariably encourages shopping. abroad.

China’s success in tackling the epidemic has helped boost sales of cosmetics and other wellness products among domestic consumers, who would otherwise have purchased them overseas on their travels. China’s rapid rebound has also helped SK-II’s 800 “beauty consultants” re-establish contact with their clients, he said.

“We have tried to reappear stronger by strengthening supply chain agility, e-commerce, and online and offline user experiences. “

All of this has helped P&G make SK-II a strong brand. E-commerce, in particular, took off during the peak period of the pandemic, as it responded to consumers’ desire to make contactless purchases.

To this end, SK-II has developed the Magic Scan, a non-contact, AI-compatible skin counseling diagnostic tool. It can scan the skin without any contact, detect freckles and generate high quality scans for skin management.

The brand also introduced Yumi, an animated figure who serves as a communication bridge connecting retailers and consumers. “Experts in the online field have said that we need to take the plunge and bring the latest technology to market, so we have introduced live streaming sessions into our e-commerce channels,” Seth said.

SK-II has been researching the skin in the context of the pandemic. In particular, he focused on how, with the mask or while staying at home, consumers can take better care of their skin.

Its consultants have started offering online training to consumers to compensate for the lack of offline interactions and to ensure that online shopping is not seen as a bad substitute.

“During the COVID period, the importance of skin care has increased further,” Seth said.

According to Kantar Worldpanel China analysis, the growing popularity of eco-friendly cosmetics and healthy products reflects consumers’ desire for positive change in reverse.

In a report, the market research company said preventing the novel coronavirus has had a major impact on the skin care industry. In the first six months, around 13 million consumers started using restorative skin products.

Duty-free stores are seen as an emerging engine of industry growth in China, Seth said.

“The landscape of national retailers is changing with duty free shops, especially Hainan Duty Free Island. This is helping the retail industry to shape itself for the next six to 12 months,” he said. .

Consumers are also eager to purchase products that demonstrate sustainable sourcing and manufacturing practices. According to Kantar Worldpanel’s Who Cares Who Does report, the ratio of conservationists to the total number of consumers increased to 53%, up 13 percentage points year-over-year.

Thus, SK-II now uses bamboo-based packaging. Its new program called NOW invites buyers to participate and donate to a good cause.

“Many of our buyers are creating, becoming more and more aware and interested in what we can do to create a sustainable environment.

“This is why we are extending our brand’s focus on ‘Change Destiny’ from skin and life to the planet,” Seth said.

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