Social Issue Based Brand Transformation: Strategies of the Luxury Beauty Brand SK-II
SK-II, a leading luxury beauty brand in Japan, was experiencing a decline. Its customers were aggressively courted by rivals, and changes in society made it difficult for the brand to stay compelling to its customers. SK-II must formulate a new strategy to fundamentally transform itself, bolster relevance and transcend the competition. The case describes the market landscape, economic, societal and technological changes, as well as SK-II’s prior strategies and their implementation. In developing the new strategy, the brand needs to decide 1) whether and how it should speak to social issues such as gender equality and incorporate those issues into its brand purpose; 2) how digital technologies should be effectively integrated into every aspect of the brand experience; 3) how it should synergistically leverage social media, metaverse and other media platforms; and 4) how it should work with established celebrities as well as emerging influencers to create a prestigious and yet engaging brand image. The brand needs to thoroughly assess the pros and cons associated with the potential options, craft its strategy and develop a detailed implementation plan.
This case can be used in a variety of learning contexts including MBA, EMBA, MS, executive education and undergraduate courses. The topic is suitable for courses on marketing, branding, strategy, social issue based business transformation, digital transformation, digital disruption, social media, metaverse and other related topics. The pedagogical goal is to help students understand marketing and branding in a digitized world and in an environment where businesses often need to take on social issues such as gender equality and to develop a brand purpose – the raison d’être beyond profitability. The case illustrates important decision topics such as when and how a brand can create relevance and build a stronger relationship with customers through a purpose led strategy; how digital technologies can be effectively deployed in every aspect of brand experience to bring the purpose alive; how social media, metaverse and other media platforms can be integrated to deliver coherent brand communications; how to work with established celebrities as well as emerging influencers to create a prestigious and yet engaging brand image.