Science has been at the core of Clinique’s brand identity since launching in 1968—from its lab-focused product campaigns to its ingredients- and results-led marketing copy. Fifty-five years later, the beauty landscape has certainly changed from the days of magazine ads and organic department store discoveries. Luckily, the brand’s ethos and aesthetics have found a perfect home in the virtual world―from Meta Optimist NFT drops to its partnership with NFT firm Daz 3D on the “Metaverse More Like Us” Campaign to promote diversity in the metaverse.
Its new digital retail concept―The Clinique Lab, hosted on the brand’s website but crafted as a mobile-first experience―leads visitors into the vast history of the brand while educating them on its current products and offering Clinique’s trademark skin diagnostics tool that provides custom skincare regimens (with on-site shopping) across six virtual environments. Individuals can develop custom avatars through which they explore the space.
“Our vision was inspired by the magic of the lab—from the ingredients, all the way to our products—as well as our dermatological roots and our heritage in skincare. For this experience, we consciously pushed for a futuristic abstraction of the main tenants of our brand—innovative ingredients, efficacious formulas, and dermatological expertise,” Kay Hsu, Vice President of Clinique Global Creative, Digital Brand, tells BeautyMatter. “As well, in developing brand experiences, we are always conscious of telling our story through our values of clarity, optimism, and bravery, and the Virtual Lab reflects these in our ideal state.”
The space’s styling—inspired by the company’s beauty counter in Macy’s Herald Square that is the physical home of The Clinique Lab along with its Shenzhen location—is a pastel mint, lilac, and blue-hued futuristic cosmos with bubbles (that visitors can collect to win product samples), test tubes, and Clinique “C” logos floating about. One could say an aquatic excursion is fitting, given the focus of the environment on the company’s bestseller, Moisture Surge 100H Auto-Replenishing Hydrator, which has added interactive elements to animate the accompanying Protect Your Glow campaign for the product. Translating a physical concept into the metaverse proved an expansive exercise in innovation. “Unlike our retail footprint, the virtual lab is an open world with no physical boundaries, which allowed for endless possibilities in terms of design and storytelling. We wanted to push our Clinique brand codes to new extremes on a platform that’s conducive to experimentation and creative freedom,” adds Charmi Panchal, Executive Director of Clinique Global E-commerce.
The environment was created in partnership with Journee, which has built virtual spaces for brands such as BMW and H&M. “As the creative stewards of our brand, we knew what stories we wanted to tell—from heritage to who we are today to the ethos in which it lives in. We also wanted to highlight the magic of our products and had a defined vision in how it could come to life,” Hsu comments. “Journee was the perfect partner in helping us leverage the potential of the platform to build an experience that is creatively expressive of our dermatological roots as well as our incredible heritage in beauty. Together we were able to create this experience that we hope will be inspiring as well as educational to our consumers.”
Cracking the metaverse has been a challenge at the top of many a marketer’s list, and rightfully so. Activations like these help not only generate buzz but create new brand awareness for younger generations. In fact, Gen Z was part of the impetus for launching this virtual excursion. Hsu explains the timing of the activation by stating, “For a generation that’s mashing up nostalgia into modern forms right now, it feels right for the moment.” With mobile surfing becoming the dominant form of access—in February 202, 52.08% of web visitors in the US are using their phone versus 47.92% their desktops—it is also a smart move to create these spaces with a phone-friendly format. Especially for legacy brands, these gamified spaces can help bring a modern update to their engagement opportunities, but only when in line with their overall branding mission, which is precisely why Clinique’s project is such a natural yet engaging fit.
“It’s about staying true to our brand DNA, while being open to new ways of telling our brand and product stories that’s relevant for the time and audience,” Panchal says. “Clinique is the first dermatologist-developed beauty brand, built on science and education. We have 50+ years of amazing stories that a lot of consumers do not know about, especially Gen Z, and we wanted to tell these stories in a new, innovative way that’s never been done before and in a way that cannot be done on social media.”
Commenting on the role that virtual spaces play in the future of beauty consumer engagement, Panchal notes, “Virtual worlds have democratized beauty, by allowing anyone to engage, play, and learn from anywhere at any time. Consumers want unique experiences and that’s exactly what our virtual lab is—an immersive sensorial experience that brings sound, lighting, and depth to the next level. After many iterations, we were able to deliver a world that is both deeply aspirational and experiential.”
Beginning this month, visitors will be able to explore the Clinique universe to their hearts’ content. With 41% of consumers saying they want to purchase products in the metaverse, they are likely to add a few items to their shopping cart along the way.
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