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Why Shiseido created its virtual ambassador SHI

Why Shiseido created its virtual ambassador SHI

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Virtual brand ambassadors are becoming increasingly popular nowadays and Shiseido is one brand that does not want to miss the boat on this trend. In conjunction with its 150th anniversary, it rolled out SHI to represent all of its beauty brands.

SHI currently shares travel, lifestyle, and beauty content through social platforms such as Instagram and Spotify. This includes content about Shiseido’s heritage and mission, the key themes of the 150th Anniversary campaign, as well as educating consumers on sustainable and ethical beauty.

Juliana Chu, Shiseido's VP, digital and eCommerce, Asia Pacific, told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE:

SHI was created as a representative of Shiseido in the digital space, mirroring the company’s values and appealing to its target audience at the same time.

"We see the importance of having both virtual and human ambassadors to ensure that our brand identity and values are communicated, and connections are made with our consumers both online and offline," Chu explained. Shiseido's real-life brand ambassadors include Megan Rapinoe, Hikaru Utada and Ursula Corbero.

The global digital human avatar market size is expected to reach US$527.58 billion in 2030 and register a revenue compound annual growth rate of 46.4% over the forecast period, a study by Emergen Research found. Rising demand for digital human influencers is expected to fuel market revenue growth to a major extent over the forecast period, due to better reliability of digital human avatars in achieving intended objectives.

Digital human avatars could promote and advertise a product by subtly talking regarding relatable issues, Emergen Research. Also, unlike live influencers, all actions of digital influencers are controlled by the concerned organisation.

This form of control given to brands is certainly beneficial. SHI has been tailored to stand for values that align with Shiseido's - female empowerment, sustainability and more ethical beauty. It also champions the company's first region-wide charity initiative across APAC – SHI for SHE – as part of a wider partnership with Lazada.

The brand worked with MullenLowe Singapore to create the visual and brand identity concept of SHI. To maximise the value of SHI, Shiseido partnered with a content creator as well as AIRR Labs and collaborated with its internal Shiseido teams on local partnerships to bring SHI to life in their respective markets.

(Read also: Opinion: Will traditional ideals of beauty have any role in the metaverse?)

In Hong Kong, for example, Shiseido worked with Pontac for a web-based beauty metaverse titled "SHISEIDOVERSE: 150 YEARS TO THE FUTURE". It featured a series of personalised engaging experiences with virtual ambassadors from three different eras - Mr. SHISEIDO of the present, Miss SHISEIDO from the past and Meta SHISEIDO from the future.

It is also in the process of working with Airrlabs to create an AI voice that fits SHI, and eventually bringing her to the metaverse. "Having a voice would strengthen a character’s personality, hence by partnering with an AI vendor, we felt that we would be able to create a unique voice for SHI to share her life," Chu explained.

According to a UOB group report, 65% of ASEAN’s population is expected to be middle class by 2030 with a fairly young population of 60% under the age of 35. Additionally, NielsenIQ released insights that revealed that Millennials have the highest penetration for online beauty and personal care (77% of households). The Gen Z, however, is not far behind with 76% penetration.

Millennials also have the highest order frequency rate and annual spend online. Gen Z consumers are 1.4 times more likely to make impulse purchases and 1.3 times more likely to want environmentally friendly items. They are two times more likely to try new items and 1.4 times more likely to be open to a wider variety of brands.

"With the rise of social media and the increasing digitalisation of our world, SHI is an answer to the shifting consumer behaviour among the younger generation – their familiarity with technology and social media, and their desire to see brands take action for causes that they care about," Chu said.

Related articles:
Shiseido unveils mega integrated marketing campaign
Shiseido HK launches wellbeing programmes for sustainable development of employees
Shiseido names APAC digital marketing director
Shiseido MY brings fans on a unique walk down Tokyo's Ginza with new VR experience

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