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Overcoming unfamiliarity for a win 

Published on: 05-Apr-2019

For the second year running, Shiseido Asia Pacific sponsored a Nanyang Professional MBA marketing class project. The applied project required PMBA participants to develop a brand rejuvenation plan for the 147 year-old Japanese beauty company. Founded in 1872, Shiseido’s loyal consumer group is ageing and there is a need to refresh its brand image to engage the younger generation.

Joe Jiao, Sebastian Guo, and Kelvin Chan performed exceptionally well in this project to clinch the first, second and third prize respectively. 

First prize winner, Joe Jiao, shared his experience in overcoming the biggest challenge of the project – unfamiliarity towards the cosmetics.

“I’d watched two Shiseido commercials – "High School Girl?" and “資生堂書体「美と、あそびま書。」” – and their creativity left me with very good impression of the brand. But I had very little knowledge on cosmetics, especially makeup products, and this lack of product knowledge posed a great challenge while formulating a meaningful strategy,” shared Joe.

To bridge this gap, he took on an extensive reading and learning approach – reading up on available information online, spending hours in department stores and cosmetic shops, observing product presentation as well as speaking with the beauty consultants. 

He also interviewed female friends to gain user insights – what they love about the makeup products of their choice, the pain points, as well as the factors influencing their decision of choosing specific brand or product. This process provided him with important consumer insights which guided his brand strategy and ultimately, secured his win.

“Framing the problem is a crucial yet creative process. Challenges may sound alike but the way to frame the problem - by deeply understanding the stakeholders, the context, the legacy and the future - can be very different. And this step eventually determines the impact of the solution,” shared Joe on the key takeaways from this project.

He added that the whole process of problem solving or solution design can be frustrating, exciting as well as inspiring.  “The emotions come as a whole package. But, at certain point of time, when the epiphany finally arrives, you will feel that it is all worthwhile.” 

(From left to right) Assoc Prof Lewis Lim, Nanyang PMBA participant Joe Jiao, Ms Bow Tachamahachai, Regional Brand Director of Shiseido APAC and Ms Mildred Lee, Regional Product Manager of Shiseido APAC.

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