Play inspires beauty addicts with unique experience for NARS


International retail design agency, Play, delivered a unique experience for NARS cosmetics, designed to capture the hearts, minds and kisses of travel retail shoppers.

Part of a ground-breaking installation, which premiered in Bangkok’s King Power Downtown Rangnam Complex, Play created an eye-catching gamified experience to build brand engagement, and drive trial and sales. 

A playful floating ‘kiss cloud’ which danced, waved, strutted and posed, to mirror shoppers’ movements drew customers into the experience. Progressing along the journey, shoppers were then engaged by an innovative lip trial game, challenging them to ‘catch’ moving kiss icons by following them on screen with their own lips, and to experiment with a virtual lip trial, where augmented reality technology allowed them to digitally try on bestselling shades.

Mark Howell, creative director at Play, commented: “Augmented reality trials are becoming a popular feature in the beauty retail sector, but there is often a disconnect between the brand and the experience. With this installation we created for NARS our aim was to ensure direct synergy between the brand experience and the iconic brand ethos, while also achieving cut-through in the duty-free space.” 

Inspired by the three core brand pillars of NARS and based on Play’s deep consumer insight, the experience focussed on the core artistry at the heart of the NARS brand to capture shoppers’ imaginations. 

Shoppers were encouraged to trial different shades in order to create the ‘perfect selfie’ – their chosen shade was ‘painted’ onto their pout using the AR technology. The selfies offered shoppers a meaningful and resonant interaction, plus a unique piece of shareable collateral, which featured a “with love from Bangkok” stamp when shared online. To further incentivise purchase following the digital trial, free makeovers were on offer from expert NARS brand ambassadors.

During the course of the Bangkok installation, 38,427 lip shades were trialled virtually, and every shopper’s unique digital kiss was incorporated into the dynamic kiss cloud. Over time, the cloud evolved to reflect customer shade preferences across the local Bangkok market, providing valuable data to inform shoppers and future NARS strategies.

As well as the King Power Complex the installation was also rolled out in the downtown area of Bangkok and the T Galleria in Hong Kong. NARS now has plans in place to roll out the experience into iconic duty-free locations in South Korea and China throughout 2019.

In a one-month period (6th May to 7th June), the installation attracted the attention of 16,103 shoppers. Dwell time for customers who played the lip trial game was 2 minutes 51 seconds on average, and the installation drove a further 71,710 visits to the NARS website, and 1,275 interactions on other NARS’ digital platforms.

Howell continued: “The omni-channel approach and generation of a unique keepsake as a result of the experience was key to the success of the NARS installation in the duty-free space. By ensuring that the use of AR technology delivered something exceptional and authentic to the brand, we were able to create a truly impactful installation, which built deeper connections with shoppers. We’re excited to see how data from the upcoming roll-out locations compares with the findings from Bangkok and the impact on advocacy for the brand in these markets.”