The metaverse may be one of technology’s most nascent frontiers, but for P&G, diving into new touchpoints with consumers is not.
During a wide-ranging conversation with WWD’s Jenny B. Fine, Alexis Schrimpf, design vice president, global skin and personal care; chief design officer and cofounder, SeeMeBeauty, P&G Beauty, discussed brand-building opportunities in the new realm and P&G’s history of supporting media emerging from the start.
Although the alternate digital worlds are new, P&G pioneering new forms of content is not. “P&G was the first company to develop soap operas in the 1930s on a whole new consumer platform called radio,” Schrimpf added. “We really believe BeautySphere represents the future of brand building.”
BeautySphere is P&G Beauty’s first foray into the metaverse and virtual world creation. “Our first iteration of BeautySphere really focuses on telling the story of responsible beauty, which is our platform for taking sustainable approaches that are also safe, transparent and inclusive,” Schrimpf explained.
Beyond just an interactive, three-dimensional experience, P&G also “game-ified” the space, via an interactive experience based on Herbal Essences hair care. “The highlight of BeautySphere is our partnership with Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, to authenticate botanicals in our Herbal Essences products. For everyone who completes this journey, Herbal Essences plants a real tree in Veracruz, Mexico, a region that supports restoration of native forest ecosystems,” Schrimpf said.
P&G ideated and executed the BeautySphere in less than a year, an accelerated development process that came with a steep learning curve, Schrimpf said. “The prospect of wrapping my head around the future technology space was both daunting but exciting,” she said. “We had to learn how to apply design processes to a new medium, starting with storyboarding.”
Going forward, the company will continue to push fast-paced innovation, and plans on expanding the BeautySphere into new realms. “We believe the BeautySphere can serve all consumers,” Schrimpf said. “We envision BeautySphere expanding as a series of worlds, or experiences, social and hopefully educational.”
Although it’s early days, the company has already gleaned numerous meaningful insights about how the metaverse is evolving.
“First, we’ve learned how important it is to be open to new skills and exploring creative spaces,” Schrimpf said. “I’ve personally really enjoyed this, and the passion of our team throughout the work easily translated to the success we’ve seen with the importance of increased depth, and creating engaging experiences for the consumer. It’s the consumer’s point of view that we have to take into account, not ours. How are she or he going to explore this world?”
Marketing the experience has also been comprehensive, which included an influencer campaign to inaugurate its launch.
“We partnered with influencers from the digital world, like Twitch gamers who gave tours of the BeautySphere to their own followers, and even joined conversations in the BeautySphere about what the future of digital,” she said.
The virtual possibilities for beauty are unbridled, and Schrimpf said P&G’s stable of beauty brands are all interested in getting involved. “We’ll continue to work on this accelerated timeframe,” Schrimpf said. “I think that’s the only way: to be quick, and nimble, and try things out.”
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