When faced with an impromptu video conference call, Japanese women no longer have to worry about their makeup. Instead, Shiseido’s recently launched app Tele Beauty applies a virtual makeup look for them. When they’re in a call, the app makes it appear as if they’re wearing makeup (they can choose between four different looks), with a subtle touch of blush, mascara and eyeliner, for example.
That’s just one example of how the Japanese-owned cosmetics giant, which includes 40 brands worldwide, is experimenting with augmented reality. Shiseido opened a Digital Center of Excellence in New York earlier this year, to test augmented and virtual reality technology across its brands. It is also working to use consumer data to shape its marketing strategies, which has been something of a struggle for fashion and beauty brands.
Aside from Tele Beauty, Shiseido has experimented with using music playlists to help consumers pick a lipstick shade from its brand Nars, rather than a traditional “model look.” It’s bullish on the Chinese app WeChat, and it’s also teamed up with Chinese-based music streaming services. On Snapchat, its brand Bare Mineral is experimenting with a customized lense, which a consumer can hold over their face to see what a product may look like.
At the Luxury Interactive conference in New York Monday, Glossy caught up with Shiseido’s global chief digital officer Alessio Rossi to discuss how Shiseido is developing and using technology across its brands.
Answers have been edited slightly for length and clarity.
How do you balance between spending on buzz-worthy tech like augmented reality and the less sexy aspects of marketing?
We tend to allocate at least 60 percent of funds to activities that we know are working, so established media practices that include media and digital. But then we’ve started to allocate a significant amount of funds and energy into experimental things to see how augmented and virtual reality and artificial intelligence move the needle of specific KPIs.
Did the VR and AR you’ve done so far move the needle?
It moved the needle in terms of engagement. I think it needs to be a very well orchestrated mix of touch points that you deploy. AR or VR alone is not going to move the needle of consumer behavior overall, but it gives you a unique chance to engage in a different way. So engage is the key word. Then how do you collect engagement and how do you transform it into conversions and loyalty? That’s where you have to put new touchpoints in the mix.
How has Shiseido’s use of data changed in the past two years?
Typically we started from transactional data and we’re moving now into behavioral and lifestyle data. So we have defined very clear consumer decision journey maps for most of our brands. We mapped out all the data touch points where we’re present, or not, and we mapped out all data points where the customer is [online, social media], which we may not have been reading in the past.
Define a consumer’s “lifestyle data?”
You may have acquired a name through a typical CRM campaign, but a name really doesn’t tell you much, even if you have demographics you don’t really know who the individual is. By harnessing the data that comes from social you can find out that she may be vegan, or she may like to cook organic, she may go to yoga classes, that actually opens inside about who the person is that you’re talking to and give us a unique chance to customize the communication on a one to one level. Our goal is to move away from the one-to-many broadcast communication that we’ve had in the past to and go down to the one-on-one level with the individual.
And that’s ultimately to drive sales?
Of course, but it’s fairly easy to drive sales, it’s not as easy to drive loyalty. Loyalty is built on trust and trust is built on facts.
A lot of brands are attracted to WeChat, why is Shiseido?
We use it for a number of brands: Ipsa, Shiseido, clé de peau BEAUTÉ. WeChat is an extremely interesting combination of features, it can be a social platform, CRM tool, loyalty tool, payment method, an analytical platform. It can be a store. We really use it across the board not only to exploit transactional aspect of that, but really to tackle intelligence you can get from what the consumers do within WeChat with your brand.