--The "ice cream parlour cosmetics" (hereafter, "ice cream cosmetics") is a makeup brand that was launched for a limited period of time in March 2018. I understand that the usual publicity tools such as commercials and posters were not used; instead, the brand appealed to consumers only through Instagram and its website, while its sales channels were also limited to online sales and pop-up shops.
Kagaya：Yes. In order to make the connection with young consumers in their teens and 20s, whom Shiseido has not yet encountered till now, we focused on using smartphones as the main means of communication.
--In addition to the product packaging, the Instagram account and website have a strong "pop" image, and there is a strong sense of a consistent and unified world view.
Hase：Partly because we had a limited budget, it was necessary for us to come up with the ideas and implement them from scratch on our own. Usually, we often engage in production based on orders from the marketing team. This time, however, in addition to the design, everyone in the team including marketers, worked together to come up with the product theme, contents of event plans, and even the detailed ideas such as novelty goods to buyers.
We were the elite team consisting of considerably fewer people than usual. That is why everyone in the team had to be a "jack of all trades" and work beyond the scope of the tasks that they are usually responsible for (laughs). It was a completely different approach from the typical style of assigning the work that each person would be responsible for in advance, and taking responsibility for just that scope of work. We each had to tackle many challenges that we had never faced before, and that made it possible for us to create the products filled with fresh ideas.
--For yourself, Ms. Hase, what were some of the challenges you had to tackle for the first time?
Hase：Usually, I am an Art Director for packaging. This time, however, as the Creative Director, I was able to come up with a complete design ranging from the packaging and visual design to the layouts for pop-up stores. I think that this is the reason why we were able to create a unified world view for the brand.
Kagaya：I think that we were able to take such an approach this time precisely because it was on a small scale. If this had been a project spanning several years, I believe it would have thrown up different limitations, responsibilities, and approaches. Not only that the team was small, we also had very little time leading up to the launch of the products, so we acted with a powerful and instantaneous resolve that "we have to do it now!"
Hase：We also did not conduct the preliminary marketing surveys that we usually do. Instead we explored Harajuku and shaped the idea based on the inspiration we got from what we experienced there.
--While the products themselves immediately draw our attention visually, the use of ice-cream as a motif also resonates especially with the target young generation, doesn't it?
Hase：When the member in charge of marketing suggested using a colorful variation for our palette, an image of ice-cream packaging that makes us want to eat it very much came to mind. My greatest desire is for consumers to love and feel affectionate toward the cosmetics, and to enjoy making up.
Usually, when we attempt to draw attention to the appeal of cosmetic products, we focus on their functionality, such as how many hours they last for, how easily they can be washed off, or how much they make the eyes look bigger. While such makeup products, or so-called "necessities," are naturally important items, I have always wanted consumers to have more fun and adventure with makeup.
--These products were designed with those thoughts and desires in mind. How did you then come up with the communication tools for conveying these desires in the best way possible?
Kagaya：The concepts used were "intuitive buying" and "experiences that are only available here." In addition to the pop-up stores, we wanted to design the website in a way that allowed visitors to enjoy the same experience as consumers in the physical retail store. Recently, websites tend to become places that consumers visit only after they have generally decided on what they want, in order to check the specifications of the product one last time before making the purchase. We felt that this was not enjoyable at all, and did not match the concept of our "ice cream cosmetics."
We put utmost effort into reducing the literal elements as far as possible, so that visitors will be stimulated into thinking "I want this" the instant they open up the brand's website. We gathered all the contents in one page so that they can be viewed by scrolling up and down the single lengthwise image without closing and opening windows one by one. For the photography, we also took the step of using analog methods purposefully to create what appears at the first glance to be composite photographs. While enjoying the world of ice-cream, visitors can learn about the products and purchase them immediately with a click of the mouse. These were the points that we kept in mind while designing the website.
Hase：This time, we simply began with the desire to offer consumers a fun and enjoyable experience. Personally, I feel that it is somewhat outdated to approach sales from the cosmetic product itself. I feel that the reason for the consumer to acquire the product lies at the background.
Kagaya：That is to say, they do not look only at the product itself. Even for "ice cream cosmetics," for example, there were many people who felt that the shopping bag was adorable, and posted pictures of just this shopping bag on Instagram. The overall experience surrounding the product contributes to its favorable impression, and I think that they decided to buy the products simply because "it's fun."
Hase：Our design was based on the image of the relaxed and cheerful ice-cream shops that one might find somewhere like in the U.S. This was because the brand was launched on 21 March, during the change of the seasons from winter to spring. Don't we all wish for spring to arrive quickly at that time? We wanted consumers to experience those cheerful and lighthearted emotions, such as "I want to eat ice-cream!" or "I want to enjoy colors!"
To begin with, I feel that cosmetics are not merely objects, but rather products with their own world view. The idea that the message should come from the object no longer works. Likewise, the approach that we have taken for granted till now--that consumers will always buy the same brand at the same place--no longer seems to fit the times.
--How did you design the pop-up stores?
Hase：In addition to the product displays and purchases, we created spaces where consumers could eat ice-cream, and basically put all our focus on the "experience." We also put creative effort into how the products are purchased. We adopted the system of an order sheet in which consumers could select their preferred colors, in the same way that people would choose their flavors at an ice-cream shop. At the checkout counter, the staff would then place their selected products into the shopping bag.
Kagaya：The series of "experiences" were a big hit with the consumers.
Hase：Consumers probably had a sense of being highly valued. Rather than picking out their items from a mountain of products, it makes them feel special when the staff creates a set of makeup that is uniquely theirs one by one. I have always felt that cosmetics are not consumables.
Kagaya：I believe the sentiments of those who were responsible for creating the makeup sets for them with such great care were also communicated to the consumers.
--How did the consumers who actually received the "ice cream cosmetics" react?
Hase：The products were extremely well-received. Looking at the girls who visited the pop-up store, for example, there was a girl who spent 30 minutes selecting just a nail polish. I was touched by the sight of how much serious thought they put into choosing something that costs just 350 yen. Perhaps that was the first makeup item the girl bought... If that were the case, I am truly happy that our product had been selected for that role.
Kagaya：As someone in the position of creating products, I think that we have to first think about the feelings of the users. Based simply on the reactions that we saw at the store and through social media, I feel that we had succeeded in meeting their expectations, and that it had been well worth it.
--Having tried your hand at "ice cream cosmetics," did you make any new discoveries that may lead to something for the future?
Hase：I felt that tackling new challenges is fun. Do not cling on to past successes, and try something new even if it results in failure. Having tried that out this time, I felt that the sentiments of the creators can be met with a greater response from the consumers than one imagines. This gave me greater confidence that consumers will follow our desire to tackle new challenges.
Kagaya：I am often involved from the stages of planning the communications process after the completion of a product. This time, I was involved from the stages of product development, and it made me feel that the possibilities of what I can achieve have expanded infinitely. When I first looked at this packaging, I became really excited and various ideas came to mind. I felt that creating a product with this sense of excitement, and sending that out into the world is, after all, something of great importance and value.
HaseFun-looking ice-cream that was distributed at the pop-up store as a special gift for buyers："Ice cream cosmetics" is the first brand that we have produced under Shiseido's new project, "COSMETIC PRESS." There are plans to continue launching more limited-edition brands that capture the latest trends of the times. I hope that everyone is looking forward to these new developments.