The Chinese beauty market is changing rapidly while beauty and technology are becoming more and more closely integrated. Various disciplines such as synthetic biology, life sciences and epigenetics are profoundly influencing and changing the course of the industry.
As beauty enters a new research-driven phase, cosmetic companies not only increased investment in front-end research but also have to face their consumers to promote science communication of their products. In that case, more and more scientists, engineers and researchers are stepping in front of the camera and taking on the role of KOLs. Wang Xiaolei, currently head of science communication at Shiseido China, has had a similar experience.
In 2016, after finishing her work at the Institute of Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences & Peking Union Medical College, Wang Xiaolei officially joined Shiseido the following year as a researcher at Shiseido (China) Research and Development Centre Co.
For herself, her time in the lab was “self-imposed”. Wang Xiaolei explained to CHAILEEDO, “In the lab, I only care about how can I develop the products and create better formula. And I focus on what ingredient can be better improve the anti-aging efficacy.” She said. “At that time, there was actually very little thinking about how to communicate to the public and how to promote it.”
After joining the science communication community, it means that her thinking and working patterns need a shift for understanding more about consumers. “I have followed some influencers who consistently communicate useful cosmetic knowledge. I can learn from their content and ways and means of communication.” She said, “They practically know what consumers’ concerns are. They correct some consumers’ misconceptions about skincare in a timely manner, which are worth learning from.”
In her view, the most important point of science communication in beauty technology is to deliver the correct and scientific knowledge of skincare. In other words, communication should precisely bring better products and technology to consumers. “The content we transfer must be true and well-reasoned.” Based on this, it is communicated to different audiences through different forms of presentation.
In terms of specific ways and means, Shiseido China, for example, launched a science column “Shi-Lab” last year, which breaks down obscure skin knowledge such as Shiseido’s research on dermal stem cells and light-energy dual-action skin care technology and Shiseido’s black technology through the form of cartoons so that consumers can intuitively understand the causes of skin problems and the efficacy principles of skincare products.
Wang Xiaolei said, “We will update the Shi-Lab regularly and will even increase the frequency of updates this year.” Meanwhile, for professional consumers, Shiseido has also opened columns on platforms such as Zhihu (Chinese version of Quora) to output more hardcore content in the form of essays.
“Different consumers care about different perspectives of cosmetics. We need to reach different people by different ways.” She concluded.
For Shiseido, the group has accumulated countless research achievements over the past century such as the eco-friendly packaging technology “Beauty in a Bottle Technology” and “Digital Skin” technology, which were presented at the China International Import Expo last year. Shiseido still continues to innovate its technology. Wang Xiaolei’s work is to get consumers to understand these technologies and even join the brands in practising green living.
It is worth mentioning that in early February, Shiseido proposed in its new corporate strategy to spend 3% of sales on research and development. Shiseido has also previously stated that it would make China the second R&D centre in the world. In the future, as more and more cutting-edge technologies and products emerge, science communication will have to play an even more important role.