Dr.Ci:Labo spotlights skincare heroes & shares strategy to drive conversion

By Faye Bartle |


L-R: Dr.Ci:Labo’s Michelle Tong and Katherine Lei with TRBusiness’ Faye Bartle.

Japanese dermacosmetics brand Dr.Ci:Labo demonstrated its skincare prowess at the TFWA Asia Pacific Exhibition & Conference in Singapore by spotlighting a trio of bestselling products along with a strategy to foster synergy between the domestic market and travel retail to close-up the consumer ecosystem and drive conversion.

TRBusiness met with the company’s new Head of Travel Retail, Katherine Lei, and Regional Business Development Associate Director, Travel Retail, Michelle Tong, at the Singapore summit to discover more about the latest launches from the company, which is part of Kenvue, as well as its plans for GTR.

Included in its trio of hero products is the second-generation upgrade of the 377 VC Radiance Serum containing an exclusive ingredient – BV-3X Glow – which promises to rebuild stronger, firmer and brighter skin in seven days. (Also available as a travel retail exclusive 28g duo set.)

Another cult-status product is the VC100 high penetrating Vitamin C Essence Lotion EX, which claims to deliver a ‘clinic level glow in two weeks’.

The third in the mix is the firming Enrich Lift EX Aqua Collagen Gel (available as a travel retail exclusive 120g duo set).

The products, and all they can do for the skin, was brought to life with the help of an interactive screen, powered by a WeChat Mini Program, featuring Dr. Shiropy, the digital personification of the brand’s founder Dr. Shirono.

Dr. Shiropy offers help and advice, which plays to the spirit of the brand’s ethos of omotenashi (the Japanese philosophy of hospitality and of selfless customer service).

This has been showcased at key locations, such as the brand’s online to offline (O2O) concept store at Haikou International Duty Free Shopping Complex in Hainan.

Based on the understanding that Gen Z’s don’t necessarily liked to be approached when they shop, there is a handy button press if and when they would like to be approached by a sales assistant to ask a question.


Left: The Dr. Shiropy Self-Discovery Zone. Right: Showcasing the 377 VC Radiance Serum and VC100 Vitamin C Essence Lotion EX.

The team revealed that while traffic is picking up at the brand’s points of sale in travel retail – Dr.Ci:Labo’s primary markets are Japan and China – conversion has softened.

As part of its push for regaining momentum, the brand is exploring opportunities inflight, launching with Taiwanese airlines Starlux Airlines and Eva Air earlier this year.

It is also launching the three hero products with Singapore Airlines’ KrisShop in July. More inflight activity in partnership with 3Sixty Duty Free is set to follow.

Tech-powered skincare consultations 

At the stand, TRBusiness also discovered the Dr.Ci:Labo skin scan technology that’s available at selected counters. This asks the user questions relating to age, lifestyle and skincare concerns. Once this information is processed and a photo is taken, a score is generated.  

The technology then displays useful information on positive factors, as well as any areas of concern that may need addressing (such as dryness or redness), along with recommendations for skincare ingredients that can help to improve them. Products containing these ingredients are then highlighted alongside.

Lei and Tong talked though some recent events for VC100 in Japan with Japanese and Chinese KOLs, to raise awareness of the product prior to travel.


Dr.Ci:Labo’s Regional Business Development Associate Director, Travel Retail, Michelle Tong and Head of Travel Retail, Katherine Lei at the stand in Singapore. 

“We released digital advertisements to drive coupon collection and redemption offline,” said Lei. “So by creating awareness online, we drive people to make the purchase in store and to redeem an exclusive gift. That’s how we can close up the ecosystem from Japan and China to travel retail – along the entire consumer path to purchase.”

Tong explained how H2 2024 will focus heavily on raising awareness of the second generation 377 VC Radiance Serum.

Speaking of the high-efficacy Enrich Lift EX Aqua Collagen Gel, Lei added: “Most retinols in the market are cream formulations. We went with a gel format because we wanted something that was going to help restore the skin barrier and enhance the moisture in the skin.

“The gel format helps in terms of better moisture retention. It has great absorption and a great texture. It’s also quite soothing as retinols can be harsh.”

Driving conversion through enhanced synergy

Servicing the local market demand and supporting new launches is key for company at the moment. Summarised Tong. “We are are looking to land those campaigns in travel retail to drive conversion and to create synergy between Japan, China and travel retail – to close that loop with the customer.

“Our focus is also to expand our reach to more customers, which is why we are moving into the inflight channel.

She added: “In terms of inflight business what we are trying to cover is not only the Chinese consumer but other demographics that would be interested in Dr.Ci:Labo products, such as those in Korea, Thailand and Vietnam.”

Dr.Ci:Labo Aqua Collagen Gel Enrich Lift EX

Dr.Ci:Labo Aqua Collagen Gel Enrich Lift EX was the joint winner of the Best Skincare, Haircare, Bath & Body Product category in the consumer-voted 2023 Asia Pacific Travel Retail Awards.

Lei succinctly summed up the journey of the skincare category since Covid and what how it is moving forward in 2024: “Before Covid, it was the golden years for the skincare category – especially in China,” she said.

“Due to that good moment, and also the confidence for the future, many brands aimed to mirror that in travel retail. Then Covid hit, and I believe everyone is now on the way to recovering from the high inventory, the price competition from the domestic market – and even within travel retail – and finding a new way to refuel the growth momentum. 

“For us, we are trying to include travel retail into the whole ecosystem of the domestic market, so that when people travel they already have us on their ‘to buy’ list. 

“Because many brands are facing challenges, especially in China and sometimes also in Japan – although in Japan now the momentum is better – I think the other way to refuel the growth is by driving synergy between the domestic market and travel retail, rather than creating competition in terms of position, pricing and offerings. 

“I see more and more of our industry friends aiming to do this. Combined with the travel recovery in general, and new growth in Southeast Asia, I do believe the momentum will get better and better. 

“This year more and more people will hear about the growth opportunities.”

READ MORE: What it means to be a Travel Retail Awards winner

READ MORE: Dr.Ci:Labo celebrates Lunar New Year with festive campaign in Haikou

READ MORE: Dr.Ci:Labo opens new O2O concept store in Haikou with CDFG


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