How Japanese Skincare Brand Za Launched In India By Leveraging Social Media

A look at Japanese skin care brand Za's launch in India, which roped in VML Qais to build awareness and a relevant community of urban consumers using social media


Shiseido, a major Japanese hair care and cosmetics producer with over 130 years of existence, has been in India for over 12 years in department stores like Shopper’s Stop and other lifestyle stores. This April, the brand launched its skincare line called ‘Za’ in India, and teamed up with VML Qais for a 360-degree digital strategy for this new launch in India.

Za (pronounced as ‘zee-ei’) is bringing to India a range of products from skin care to makeup, researched and developed through breakthrough Japanese technology and natural products, but will only be available in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. To promote the Za range, VML Qais started with developing a community of the target consumers – the urban metropolitan woman who cares about her skin as much as she cares for her social connections.

Along with creating awareness about Za and communicating the brand philosophy, the agency set about to build a Facebook community and got influential beauty and makeup bloggers to review the brand products and communicate its efficacy.

Building a community

Based on the insight that no metropolitan woman can take on all the moments of her life alone, the launch activities were designed around the woman and her BFFs (best friends forever). The urban woman always has BFFs who are everything to her from ‘encouragers’ to ‘partners in crime’; hence the Take on Any Moment Facebook application was conceptualized.

One had to ‘like’ the page to get started with the app. The app would present 3 scenarios in which the user needs to share which of her girl friends or BFFs would she call for help in each of the 3 scenarios and stand a chance to win Za gift hampers for themselves and their BFFs. Go through the scenarios, select a friend and help spread the word.


Additionally, the brand posted content about interesting things to do with your BFFs in the 3 launch cities. Interactions were rewarded with Za hampers thus boosting engagement amongst the community. Simple engaging contests like #ZaGirlsNightOut invited them to post their girls night out pictures on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram using the hashtag #ZaGirlsNightOut, to stand a chance to win Za hampers.

The Facebook timeline shared blogger reviews on Za. Here’s a blog post by Ankita, founder of renowned makeup blog ‘Corallista’ on her visit to the Shiseido Headquarters in Tokyo and discovering the House of Shiseido and the Za range. Apart from posts about the product, content shared revolved around fashion, health and beauty tips.

Communicating the Za philosophy

For a beauty product to be available in the metro cities only, Za has rightly identified and connected with the metro woman using social media and understanding her social behaviour. The concept of BFFs has become even more phenomenal with the socially connected age; urban women tend to hang on to their BFFs for life’s little and big queries.

Bringing on engagement and spreading through word of mouth through one’s social connections is the best way to launch a beauty product targeted to a specific community. ‘Take on any moment’ on Facebook ensures that for every user who engages with the app, 3 more like-minded people are exposed to the campaign and the product.

In addition, the campaign has smartly plugged in product trials. Most interactions on social media have been rewarded with Za hampers. But, best of all, is getting established beauty bloggers to spend a day at the brand’s headquarters and bring out the legacy behind it.

Za has had a cool launch in India, however, the challenge would be to sustain it further.