Dawn Reese, executive vice president of client solutions at StyleHaul discusses influencer marketing with Tiffani D. Carter-Thompson, vice president of U.S. integrated communications at Shiseido Cosmetics Americas at WWD's Digital Forum in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

Shiseido history may go back nearly a century and a half, but it’s no old-fashioned beauty brand.

The legacy company’s modern approach to marketing showcases a deft handle on how to use social media and influencers to create excitement around the brand and its products.

At the forum, Tiffani D. Carter-Thompson, vice president of U.S. integrated communications at Shiseido Americas Corp., laid out the challenge to StyleHaul’s Dawn Reese.

“You know, we have a huge heritage,” she said. “We’re 146 years old. We do really well in department store niche partners like Sephora. But our audience, of course, is predominantly over 35.”

The company, like many others in beauty and fashion, wanted to appeal to younger customers. It debuted sun-care products this year and most recently, a return to makeup with a brand-new line. But it also found that younger audiences “may not be super familiar with Shiseido,” Carter-Thompson said.

Enter social media. The Japan-based brand found a hotline to Millennials and Gen Z in influencers, as well as a partner in services like StyleHaul, which helped them produce a spate of campaigns.

Turns out, there’s an art and a craft to this form of marketing.

The key, Carter-Thompson said, was understanding the results they wanted and finding the influencers to drive them. It’s not always about huge follower counts, either, but having an engaged audience in the desired demographic, then giving the personalities free rein to express themselves. The key, she said, is authenticity. And that careful influencer curation makes it “less fearful when you’re out there with the content,” she said.

Shiseido wanted to drive awareness, as well as generate buzz around its products. Although it already does plenty of social media marketing and influencer relationship-building on its own, outside services were still critical.

“That’s why the partnership with StyleHaul was so important, because getting content creators to show how they interpret the makeup was a critical step,” Carter-Thompson continued. “Because that’s the only way to gain credibility, through the advocates, through the users.”

The campaign led to 80 pieces of content going out across social channels like Instagram. The company fortified its influencer campaigns with experiential efforts, using real-life events to accelerate the digital push.

For its sun-care product marketing, Shiseido hosted an invite-only “activation” at a house in Malibu covering three days, seven events and 200 influencers, the beauty executive explained. The company played host to groups of influencers from a variety of categories, from fitness and wellness to fashion, to demonstrate the use cases.

One of the most important features about its sun-care collection is its transparent application. So to spotlight that, the company enlisted a couple of well-known personalities to help carry the message.

“We had Kahlana Barfield and Deepica Mutyala, two very well-known influencers, both brown skin, to show the product going on clear. I let them have at it,” Carter-Thompson explained. “It was a very high-fashion moment, because they were both dressed to the nines.”

Shiseido used one of their posts in its paid media cycle — essentially, paying the platform to amplify the post, so more people would see it. “We just wanted to test it, and it performed the best,” Carter-Thompson said. “That was a risk, because it wasn’t necessarily your obvious product usage. At the same time, their audience believes them wholeheartedly.”

The tactic worked, she said. And she admitted that it was something of a surprise. Now the company looks ahead, hoping to build on what it’s accomplished so far.

“How do we take that nugget, that that content performed really well? It had the best clickthrough rate, right? How do we take that information — think about the experience, the experiential activation that we did in Malibu — and do something a little bit different that connects the dots next year and makes even more of an impact,” the exec said.

“So that’s how we try to think: Look at those pieces of success, and how can you make them fit a little bit more together?”

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