Mobile Commerce Daily is now Retail Dive: Mobile Commerce! Click here to learn more!

SK-II promotes pop-up skincare studio via geo-targeted mobile ad

Japanese skincare brand SK-II is aiming to increase awareness for its line of beauty products through a mobile banner advertisement on New York magazine’s fashion blog The Cut.

The banner ad found above The Cut’s navigation bar promotes a pop-up store initiative hosted by SK-II in New York. Promoting a local event series on a regional magazine’s blog will increase exposure among consumers who will be able to stop by and experience SK-II’s skincare first hand.

“Mobile allows marketers not just to target ads at specific regions or neighborhoods—but at specific street blocks or buildings,” said Shuli Lowy, marketing director of Ping Mobile, New York. “This granularity is particularly valuable for marketers who are trying to drive action centered around a specific location or whose target demographic is centered at a specific place.

“SK-II likely chose to focus on mobile ad placements because it allows them to deliver ads that are within close proximity to their pop-up shop,” she said. “Geo-targeting of mobile allows SK-II to target ads within a short distance of their pop-up shop—ensuring that only those who are within reasonable distance to come to the shop are being served the ad.

“When ads want to drive consumers to come to a specific location, it is powerful to put in a location-based component that tells the consumer, ‘Hey, I’m right next door to you.’ This is especially important in cities like New York and San Francisco where many consumers carry on their daily lives with no car and are therefore more apprehensive about going to stores that aren’t within walking distance.”

Ms. Lowy is not affiliated with SK-II, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.

SK-II, owned by Procter & Gamble, did not respond by press deadline.

Untapped potential
The SK-II banner ad is localized to appeal to The Cut’s predominantly New York-based audience. On the right-hand side of the banner is a small map of SoHo with a pin dropped on the corner of Broome Street and Greene Street.

On the left side of the banner SK-II included its logo and copy that reads “Pop-up Studio” and piques the reader’s interest further with a prompt to “discover your skin’s potential.” In the middle of the banner, SK-II included the exact address of the pinned point and a call to “learn more.”

sk-ii.popup ad
SK-II banner ad for the New York pop-up studio event on The Cut

A click-through lands on SK-II’s homepage but directs to the Pop-Up Studios section of the Web site where the consumer can learn more about the event series.

From April 4 through May 23 consumers are invited to a daily SK-II pop-up studio in New York or San Francisco. SK-II’s pop-up studio is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

For consumers who do not live in either of the host cities, the opening section of the Web site directs them to a locator option to find the nearest SK-II counter at a retailer. Luxury retailers that carry SK-II in their beauty departments includes Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom and Harrods.

sk-ii.pop-up web
SK-II landing page dedicated to the pop-up studio 

Below the date and times of the pop-up shop, consumers can scroll to learn about what services will be offered at SK-II’s temporary bricks-and-mortar locations. Consumers who attend will have the opportunity to experience SK-II’s new Beauty Imaging System.

According to, SK-II’s Beauty Imaging System scans the surface of a consumer’s face to reveal the damaged areas of her skin. Essentially a digital camera, the Beauty Imaging System takes close-up photos of the left side of the consumer’s face to analyze its texture refinement, firmness power, wrinkle resilience, radiance and tone.

Once the analytics are processed, each consumer is given her skin’s age in relation to others of her ethnic group. From here, SK-II can recommend the best skincare products for that individual’s skin needs and will offer a complimentary sample to participants. image machine
SK-II’s Beauty Imaging System used at the pop-up studio

Further down on the Web site, SK-II includes the exact addresses for the pop-up shops in New York, 468 Broome Street and in San Francisco at 117 Post Street.

Consumers who visit the site can also learn more about the brand’s history and its innovative Pitera ingredient, derived from the rice used to brew sake, in the last section. This helps show consumers that SK-II is an expert in the skincare field and can be a trusted source to advise and care for an individual’s skin.

Beauty bashes 
SK-II has been involved with in-store events in the past.

For example, London department store Harrods aimed to increase ecommerce sales while simultaneously rejuvenating its in-store skincare event line-up as it came to an end Feb. 18 with an email blast of exclusive products.

Harrods emphasized the “new” and “exclusive” products in the subject line to generate more opens. Promoting products available only at Harrods drives foot traffic both in-store and online as affluent consumers gravitate toward exclusivity (see story).

Beauty events, whether it is a temporary pop-up shop or a one-time event within a retailer, allow consumers to experience a brand through an aspirational product and likely create loyalty between the brand and attendees.

For instance, department store chain Saks Fifth Avenue aimed to increase foot traffic to its New York flagship’s beauty department through an in-store event that featured British apparel label Burberry’s newly launched cosmetics collection.

Saks’ Burberry Beauty Booth event March 28-29 allowed consumers a chance to be made up by a Burberry backstage make-up artist. The personalized attention each consumer received likely created loyalty and repeat visitors to the retailer’s beauty department due to the level of customized treatment (see story).

Since the mobile format of SK-II’s banner ad appeals to consumers on-the-go, the skincare brand may seen an increase foot-traffic in real-time.

“In the mobile space, consumers are most likely to take action just after they have viewed an ad or interacted with a brand,” Ms. Lowy said. “As time goes by the actionable impact lessens. It is therefore always important to ensure that consumers have a way to act on the brand infusion they just received.

“While email based promotions often promote events a month in advance, mobile promotions operate in a real-time focused environment and will promote events during and shortly before they launch,” she said.

“The ad strategically includes a prominent display of the brand name in the banner and delves into the brand story in the landing page. This ensures that those who don’t end up visiting the pop up shop still gain a heightened sense of SK-II brand awareness.”

Final Take
Jen King, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York