The Top 10 Phygital Experiences in China in 2020

In China, retail is not only a marketing tool: it’s an experience. Chinese people go shopping in stores to touch the texture, understand the product… and feel emotions! Obviously, beauty brands understood the importance of proposing a new way of doing shopping with phygital experiences in China.

What does “phygital” mean?

In a word, it is a marketing strategy composed of both digital and physical elements. While you walk into a store, you can find the existing beauty range but also animations with gaming, live streaming, and digital consultations. The Covid-19 crisis enhanced this phygital trend towards experiential pop-up stores.

From TikTok-able stores to Formula 1 popup, cosmetics brands reinvented their retail standards in 2020. Discover the best practices of phygital experiences in China and how to play on key success factors: premium DNA and digital experience.


Location: Hong Kong
Date: October 2020

For the promotion of the Total Eye Lift relaunch, Clarins needed to create an impactful campaign. Basically, the beauty brand decided to play with the concept of rapidity. For instance, the star serum is meant to show “efficacity in 60 seconds top Chrono”. What about creating a Clarins’ Formula 1? Chinese could enter the bright red car to challenge themselves or compete against a friend to increase the brand visibility and attractivity.

In China, the gaming market is huge. Hence, if you plan to open a popup or organize an event in China, you definitely need to include gaming. This strategy has 2 benefits: build a positive image and enable Chinese people to remember your products.


Location: Sanya
Date: November 2020

“Kiehl’s Loves Hainan”. This key declaration was everywhere at CDF Mall. The popup showcased the brand’s commitment to sustainability and green programs like the “Future Made Better” initiative and Pur Project. Chinese visitors could scan the QR codes to learn about Kiehl’s history and conservation initiatives. To go further, the beauty brand invited Chinese actor Turbo Liu to increase Pure Project’s impact and visibility.

In China, sustainability is progressively making its way through. Chinese netizens are more concerned about environmental issues, especially Gen Z. As a result, clean beauty is now seducing the local consumers with clean ingredients and health benefits. If you are a green cosmetic brand, we would recommend you to focus on branding and e-commerce to increase your brand visibility. You can learn more about clean beauty in China, here.


Location: Changsha
Date: November 2020

Is it the first-ever TikTok store? The Chinese cosmetics brand named B+Tube decided to target the GenZ with a unique design. It was built to allow anyone to be part of a special universe made of iridescent background and neon. The place is offering numerous possibilities for young Chinese consumers to create content for Douyin (the Chinese TikTok). You can dance, discover the skincare routine, try the makeup range, and watch tutorials and videos.

In China, social media are a daily lifestyle. For instance, people spend 6 hours per day on their phones and most of the time on social media to talk with their friends and shop online. If you need a differentiated retail animation, you should think of bringing social media into your store. We can help you with that.


Location: Sanya
Date: December 2020

The relaunch of Estée Lauder’s star serum Advanced Night Repair needed to stay in mind. The beauty brand created a sustainable and interactive popup. To point out, the Chinese travelers could enjoy ANRcade games, iMatch Skincare Finder consultations, product exclusivity, and meetings with Chinese ambassadors Li Xian and Lareina Song. The game ANRcade created by Estée Lauder turned the serum universe into addictive games… And if you win, you can have special prizes!

As we mentioned earlier, gaming is a trend in China. You can go further by creating your own games inspired by your brand DNA. The ANRcade games play on the serum bottle to propose creative phygital experiences in China. Especially on a popup store, Chinese consumers will dive into your brand universe games while waiting in line to buy your products. In a word, you can increase your sales and your brand desirability.


Location: Hainan Island
Date: September 2020

In the Armani Box on Air, you can “live your passion, capture your glow, escape to nature, live your own scenario”. The Italian brand turned you into a celebrity in your own movie! By combining online and offline elements, Armani offered a complete popup with a virtual makeup application, an AR animation, and live streaming sessions. With the Chinese rapper Ghost Lil and the top KOL Teacher Xu, Armani increased its visibility and sold its latest limited edition of Lip Maestro.

The live streaming market with KOLs has exploded in China since 2018. With the “See now, Buy now” concept, Chinese consumers never hesitate to purchase your products immediately if they are recommended by a famous KOL or a local celebrity. This is the most common way to implement a phygital experience in China.


Location: Sanya
Date: October 2020

During China’s Golden Week, Dior decided to showcase its skincare novelty: Capture Totale Super Potent Serum. The opening event was a ceremony hosted by the Chinese actress Jing Tian during the peak day of China Golden Week. Chinese travelers had the possibility to enjoy beauty classes, gift personalization, and digital skincare consultations.

In China, Golden Week is a great opportunity in terms of sales. Chinese can enjoy a week’s holidays around the National Day. Thus, they enjoy traveling and shopping as much as they can during this period. If you are a brand looking for doing business in China, you can target this key period to promote your products.


Location: Sanya
Date: November 2020

Have you ever launched a China-only product? Cosmetics brands often opt for this strategy to better target Chinese consumers. Lancôme launched the Clarifique Dual Essence, a brightening toner. The bright white popup was combined with online communication with a 3-day live streaming session. Since it was hosted on CDFG YiZhiBo and animated by Sdanny Lee and Mao Xiaotong, the Livestream reached 35 million views.

Increasing your sales in China means understanding your clients. Chinese are always looking for beauty products created for their skin and beauty standards. A brightening product is often successful, especially when it is promoted by KOLs. You can learn more about the brightening market in China here.


Location: Hainan Island
Date: September 2020

This sustainable popup was designed to showcase the Pure Shots franchise launch. It showcases a digital skin consultation, vending machines, and a sustainability ethos. YSL developed an “Urban Skin Check” working on a 5-minute diagnosis to give a picture of your skin and your tailored skincare recommendations. On the “BeautyMatic” vending machines, you can exchange YSL coins for exclusive beauty gifts.

If you are looking for phygital experiences in China during your store opening, you can think about interactive tools. For skincare, digital consultation is always a win. But you can opt for other funny animations like a vending machine, a wheel of fortune, or a claw machine.


Location: Hainan Island
Date: October 2020

The Givenchy brand identity is all about couture. In this beauty popup, you can walk through Prisme Libre dummies and red velvet carpet to discover the makeup collection of the brand. The phygital experience was completed by an interactive digital wall display. Chinese customers can enter their names and see a personalized powder explosion.

As you can see, Hainan is a famous location among cosmetics brands. In the South of China, this idyllic island is the favorite destination for wealthy Chinese consumers and international travelers. Travel Retail generates most of its sales there. In particular, you need to understand the different profiles of Chinese travelers to better target them.


Location: Hainan Island
Date: September 2020

Have you ever played with gravity? Shiseido presented the benefits of its new skincare range through a strong O2O strategy (online-to-offline). In addition to seamless omnichannel elements, the beauty brand proposed a zero-gravity photo booth and a quiz game. Shiseido even hosted its first-ever KOL live stream through CDFG YiZhiBo live streaming platform, reaching 78 million impressions.

In China, your brand awareness will depend on your partnerships with KOLs and KOCs. The Chinese are sensitive to the products promoted by an influencer as they trust them. For instance, in this case, Shiseido partnered with 155 KOLs to increase brand visibility. If you are looking for a marketing campaign including KOLs partnerships, we can help you.

Create your own Phygital Experiences in China: Start with Digital

Gentlemen Marketing Agency is a digital marketing agency that is expert in helping foreign companies to establish or strengthen their position in China. We can help your cosmetics brand increase sales in China, thanks to our services:

  • Advertising
  • Social Media
  • PR
  • KOL & Influencers
  • E-commerce and cross-border e-commerce
  • Distribution

Feel free to contact us if you want to talk about your project in China

Read more about cosmetics in China

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