As cosmetics and skin care companies figure out their place in the metaverse, one thing is becoming clear: There’s an art to evangelizing real beauty in a fake world.
One must wonder if Procter & Gamble realizes the irony. Because its new BeautySphere virtual world experience, which launched Wednesday at CES, almost seems like a calculated move to overcome all the artificiality of this context.
Visually, the space looks like a tall building vertically constructed in an offset stack with green spaces, and virtual visitors can scroll through the various levels to explore a range of content — from an interactive game-like experience to livestreaming sessions and other videos. What it’s not is a place to push product.
According to Alexis Schrimpf, vice president of design, global skin and personal care, the experience is a storytelling opportunity, designed to educate, inspire and even entertain beauty consumers.
“It’s an experiential experimentation world where people can engage with our brands, while also learning more about ‘responsible beauty,’” she told WWD. P&G defines “responsible beauty” through a set of core principles: Sustainability, safety, transparency, quality and performance, and equality, inclusion and well-being.
Six livestream sessions during CES will expound on this concept, through featured panels with company researchers, experts and other guests, including tech futurist Cathy Hackl and Twitch streamer Kelsey Impicciche. The conversation will move through areas like product safety, equality, inclusion and other subjects.
Sections with titles like “behind the curtain” feature videos about the science, creativity or principles behind P&G brands across SK-II, Olay, Pantene and more. One area under “better together” showcases Rejoice Hair Care and its efforts to improve the shopping experience for vision-impaired consumers.
On the ground floor, a virtual garden maze offered by Herbal Essences and created in conjunction with Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew invites guests to enter.
According to P&G, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is the world’s leader in plant science. The company works with Kew’s experts to evaluate Herbal Essences’ bio:renew products, to validate their legitimacy and quality, Schrimpf explained.
The garden features a gamification element, as well, since finishing the maze in the virtual world can create a positive impact in the real one.
“If you go to the BeautySphere and complete the Herbal Essences garden maze, we’ll plant a real tree in Veracruz, Mexico, which is a region that is working to restore our native forest ecosystems,” she added.
It’s more than just a “tower of learning,” Schrimpf said. While it’s an opportunity to learn more about the innovation that goes into the products, it’s also a chance to actually practice responsible beauty.
This might be heady stuff for casual visitors who just want to know what goes into their shampoo. But it will likely resonate for others, especially considering the movement around cause-based consumption, particularly for the beauty sector.
While numerous companies try to define themselves in the virtual world, P&G may have a leg up on that effort. A business can’t last for 184 years without knowing exactly who it is and what it stands for. Now the company wants to make sure its consumers know it, too.