Japanese beauty brand Shiseido is doing a deep cleaning.

In preparation for big launches on August 3 — a new color cosmetic product lineup and a millennial-focused influencer strategy online — the 146-year-old company is removing all existing makeup from retail stores and its e-commerce site.

Color is the biggest category in the prestige beauty market in 2017, with sales of $8.1 billion, according to NPD Group, Shiseido wants to up its piece of the pie. Shiseido wouldn’t disclose exact figures, but said it’s doubling its investment in influencers for 2018 year-over-year, with a significant portion directed at the makeup relaunch. This is in step with larger industry trends: According to a recent influencer report by software and data insights firm Launchmetrics, nearly 80 percent of beauty brands carry out marketing initiatives with influencers and 76 percent of those brands target millennials.

Attracting a 25- to 35-year-old consumer is key for the company, as the customer shopping its skin care has aged, said Jill Scalamandre, president of Shiseido’s global makeup center of excellence. “There is a deeply engaged color makeup consumer who is younger, so this [relaunch] was a better way to bring her into the brand,” she said.

The road to get there
Directly, the brand seeded new makeup product to 200 macro- and micro-influencers for the launch, including actress Jamie Chung, YouTuber Alissa Ashley and lifestyle personality Chinae Alexander, each of which are expected to create content about Shiseido’s new color cosmetics across platforms. Most will be engaging on their own social accounts to build buzz, and Shiseido will be featuring a select few in its digital media campaign: four emerging artists, including singer-songwriter Banks and “Crazy Rich Asians” star Sonoya Mizuno. All storytelling will invoke the products’ four distinct textures: inks, powders, gels and dews — but the real innovation and spend for Shiseido is the influencer strategy.

Chung and Alexander have collaborated with the company in the past; the former drove 107.3 million impressions for Shiseido’s skin-care launch event in Los Angeles in January, while the latter garnered 20,000 impressions with in-feed product reviews of Shiseido skin care following a press trip to Tokyo in November.

That Chung has 1.1 million followers on Instagram and Alexander has 143,000 followers speaks to the importance of breadth, said Shiseido’s vp of integrated communications, Tiffani Carter-Thompson. “We don’t just look at follower count or popularity; these women have to be authentic to our brand and message,” she said. So using past collaborators who have already served as ambassadors is smart business for Shiseido as it re-enters the color category.

Shiseido also hired market research and product review platform Influenster, global marketing services and media company StyleHaul, and social commerce company Curulate to fuel attention on the launch.

Influenster, in particular, is a key partner. The market research and review platform — which works with influencers like Kelly Strack, Avielle Amor and Laura Lee — will send Shiseido makeup via curated Influenster product boxes, known as VoxBoxes, to 2,500 hyper-targeted beauty enthusiasts. The goal is to create organic discovery of the product and for these micro-influencers to review the new makeup. While Influenster has not worked with Shiseido before, it has partnered with other companies in the Shiseido Group, like BareMinerals and Laura Mercier. The user-generated-content created from the VoxBox reviews will live on Shiseido’s e-commerce site, its YouTube channel and its U.S. @MyShiseido Instagram account, which is only two months old and saw follower count jump from zero to 1,000 followers in just three days. Influenster expects it will generate 1,000 to 1,500 reviews.

“Trust is continuing to decline in online marketing, and more and more people want to hear from people who are like them, instead of those getting paid on Instagram,” said Influenster’s vp of beauty brand partnerships, Laura Brinker, who noted the product review platform collects a million product reviews per month. In order to create “awareness and advocacy” for Shiseido among millennials, this collaboration was a no-brainer; according to PowerReviews, 95 percent of all shoppers consult ratings and reviews while shopping, and 86 percent consider reviews an essential resource when actually buying.

The return to Sephora
Influenster is also ensuring 40,000 micro-influencers visit a nearby Sephora to take part in in-store digital activations and submit reviews of the new product online. These reviews will live both on Shiseido.com and Sephora.com, which will be important for educating prospective customers who don’t know the brand does makeup.

While Shiseido has continued to sell skin care through Sephora, it has not sold color cosmetics at the retailer since 2009. As of August 20, Shiseido’s new makeup will be available on Sephora.com to Very Important Beauty Insiders (VIB) and VIB Rouge loyalty members first, and on September 7, it will be unveiled in 25 top-tier Sephora stores. The makeup will be merchandised on an end cap and on lucite “lip bars,” where customers can discover the texture of the products.

“This is a way to extend our reach to every consumer at every touch point,” said Scalamandre. “You have to be where she is.”

The new makeup will also be found at Shiseido’s other existing retail partners, including Macy’s, Nordstrom and Dillard’s.

The makeup product update was a business call-to-action for the brand, said Scalamandre, who realized the makeup industry, in particular, was booming. “We knew we had an opportunity to increase penetration in the makeup category, to get it more equally balanced with skin care,” she said. Of the previous product, Scalamandre said, “Shisedo’s makeup was stagnant.”

A further push for the launch, Shiseido has also tasked Influenster with geo-targeting 15,000 influencers in the New York area for a Soho-area pop-up in September. The four-day event, which will also be open to the public at the beginning of the month, will showcase four rooms of product, organized by texture, as well as a lower-level Little Tokyo, complete with a dining experience.

Interestingly, product will not be sold at the pop-up — Shiseido is choosing to instead focus on the experiential piece alone like Coach, as a way to up brand recognition and, perhaps, gain millennial trust. “We are not known for makeup,” said Scalamandre. “We are not known for color — so we wanted to bring awareness that Shisedo is now in color, very seriously, and a strong player in the space.”