Children's Books That Enrich Family Time – A Shiseido and LOHACO Collaboration
Everyday items that fit the lives of busy parents
--The Oyasumi Kaori Ehon (“Goodnight” Scented Picture Book), Ohayo Sengan Sheet (“Good Morning” Facial Cleansing Sheet), and Ittekimasu Sunscreen (“I’m Off” Sunscreen) are products developed for encouraging communication between working parents and their children. What led to the development of these products?
Nagasaki：LOHACO, an online shopping website for daily necessities, organized the “LOHACO Everyday Items Exhibition” in the fall of 2016. Shiseido was invited to participate, and we had the desire to develop products for LOHACO’s consumers that also reflect Shiseido’s character, based on the theme of “everyday items.” This was how it all began.
--How did you incorporate the concept of “everyday items” into the products?
Nagasaki：Many of the LOHACO users are new working parents. With that in mind, we kicked off the product development process by thinking about their everyday lives. Based on surveys, we learnt that working parents could only spend three hours together with their children before or after work. I also have a three-year-old daughter. As a working mother, I do feel the lack of time spent with our children poses an issue.
Among parents who do not have any time to spare, between their work and household chores, we felt that there are probably many who are concerned about whether they are communicating properly with their children. Hence, we formulated the concept of “cosmetics communication” with the aim of providing support with cosmetic products in enriching the limited parent-child communication time.
Nagaiwa：When we were considering what products to develop, we captured the following three instances as opportunities that parents have to communicate with their children: “good night,” which is before bedtime, “good morning,” which is after waking up in the morning, and “I’m off,” which is when parents and children leave for work and nursery school, respectively. We then narrowed down the categories of cosmetic products that would be suitable for these times of the day.
Hiraoka：Initially, we thought about the design while considering various scenarios in which parents and children could use the products together. After settling on the three main ideas of “good night,” “good morning,” and “I’m off,” we narrowed down the number of items, and finally decided to use a picture book, facial cleansing sheet, and sunscreen as our three products.
Oyasumi Kaori Ehon – Kaori Hakase Flavor (Flavor the Scent Expert).
Ittekimasu Sunscreen (“I’m Off” Sunscreen)
Ohayo Sengan Sheet (“Good Morning” Facial Cleansing Sheet)
The Oyasumi Kaori Ehon that fosters sensitivity and facilitates communication
--Among the three products, the most unique one would be the Oyasumi Kaori Ehon – Kaori Hakase Flavor (Flavor the Scent Expert). Other than offering the enjoyment of fragrance with the scented stickers that come with the book, it is also a novel idea for a cosmetics manufacturer to produce a picture book, isn’t it?
Nagasaki：During the numerous meetings that we had, we talked about how a picture book is the easiest thing one can use to interest pre-school children, who are our target audience. The development team also had a desire to enhance the sensitivity of young children toward scents, so we decided to come up with something that gives off a scent when it is rubbed.
The story in the picture book was created by Nagaiwa. The protagonist is a raccoon named Flavor, and the story tells of his encounters with various scents, such as the rain, soil, and sun. Rather than using recognizable smells, such as bananas and apples, we linked the story with abstract smells from the natural world that can stimulate the imagination, such as the smell of rain. This was a key point to the story.
Nagaiwa：In fact, within the research on the five senses that Shiseido has studied continuously to date, we had produced a scented picture book that focused on the sense of smell (a product that was not commercialized). The desire to elevate scent to the level of art has also remained with Shiseido since the time of our first president, Shinzo Fukuhara (1883-1948), and I believe that this desire lies at the root of Shiseido’s philosophy. Although this is a picture book, it also signifies the crystallization of Shiseido’s strong sentiments toward scent.
--What difficulties did you face in producing the picture book?
Nagasaki：We had a hard time deciding on the tone of the illustrations, didn’t we?
Nagaiwa：The illustrations in picture books range from simple drawings to full-colored ones. As a team, our goal was to create something that excites the sensitivity, and which brings a sense of discovery every time one looks at the illustrations. We put much effort into finding an illustrator who could transform various information cleverly into illustrations without making them seem too complex.
--Did you begin with deciding on the story and text, then adding the illustrations?
Nagaiwa：That’s right. We came up with the story quickly, but it took time to ensure that the choice of words had a casual yet catchy tone, and that the expressions used were suitable for a picture book. Since a picture book is read many times over, we were particularly committed to perfecting the nuances of the text. This was completely different from my usual work of creating copies for cosmetic products as a copywriter. It was a fresh and enjoyable process. I was allowed to do it freely, without any restraint.
The characters and leaf motifs that appear in the picture book are tied in with the sunscreen and the facial cleansing sheet.
Realistic product creation with detailed scenario settings
--Apart from the picture book, I would also like to find out more about the cosmetic products. First of all, how do you use the Ohayo Sengan Sheet?
Hiraoka：We designed this product to be placed at the bedside. Children’s faces are surprisingly dirty when they wake up in the morning, often stained with sweat or drool. However, they are still unable to wash their own faces properly. With that in mind, we produced these facial cleansing sheets based on the idea of parents wiping the faces of their children when waking them up. The package contains sheets soaked in lotion and shaped like leaves that are easy to retrieve.
--The Ittekimasu Sunscreen is shaped like the character from the picture book, Flavor, isn’t it?
Nagasaki：Both the facial cleansing sheets, shaped like leaves, and the sunscreen bottle, shaped like Flavor, were designed as characters that have popped out from the world of the picture book. We felt that this would probably make it easier for children to develop a sense of attachment to them. To involve the user’s sense of touch, we used a material with an interesting rubber-like texture, known as elastomer, for the back of Flavor’s head on the sunscreen bottle, and inserted many stirring balls to create a fun noise when the bottle is shaken. These were subtle ways in which we tried to make it more fun for parents and children when they use the product.
--Were there any parts that you paid special attention to because the cosmetic products were meant for parents and children?
Nagasaki：This time, we put special effort into coming up with the scenarios of use. People usually apply sunscreen in the mornings, before they head out of the house, but they often forget to do so when they are busy and flustered. That is why we attached a strap that allows them to hang the bottle on the doorknob at the entryway, or on their bags. This would help them to remember to apply the sunscreen just before they leave the house, and even after they are out of the house. It was a new challenge to develop products while imagining the detailed timing and scenarios in life where people would use them.
Hiraoka：When we actually tried to hang the sunscreen bottle onto a baby pram or a bag, we began to understand some realistic concerns, such as whether to make the strap a buttoned strap, or that a mobile phone strap was not reliable. I aim to continue putting importance on such validation processes in my work.
Nagasaki：We also put effort into making sure that the products did not look merely like character merchandise. Since Flavor is a raccoon, his actual color would have been brown. However, if we were to retain his original form without making any changes, he would have become a mascot. We focused on drawing out the “cosmetic character” in subtle ways, such as using a blueish color, creating a shape that prioritizes ease of use, and considering the texture of the packaging materials.
Ohayo Sengan Sheet (“Good Morning” Facial Cleansing Sheet) designed for placing at the bedside
Ittekimasu Sunscreen (“I’m Off” Sunscreen) that can be hung up even in narrow spaces like the entryway
Through cosmetics, further enriching the invaluable time that parents and children share
--How did LOHACO respond to the products?
Hiraoka：Apparently, LOHACO had held a strong impression of Shiseido as a company that produces distinct and well-defined cosmetics for the independent woman. Hence, we received a positive response to the development of family-oriented products with a popular and gentle image. In fact, when we unraveled Shiseido’s history of product development, we found a surprising number of unique designs, such as the Tako/Ika/Manbo (“Octopus/Squid/Sunfish”) series of sun oil, sunscreen, and shampoo products with packaging shaped like sea creatures (production and sales discontinued). Being responsible for production has drawn my attention to Shiseido’s history once again, and helped me uncover various knowledge.
Nagaiwa：We had the opportunity to present these three products at the marketing consortium that brings together the exhibiting companies from the LOHACO Everyday Items Exhibition 2016, and we weren’t sure of how to communicate the background of these products’ development during the consortium. As the concept and packaging design were moving forward very smoothly, we felt that the use of so-called presentation materials to explain the target audience and product concept would limit the message and sentiments that we wish to convey.
Ultimately, instead of using typical presentation slides to explain the products and the background to their development, we created an image movie in the format of a documentary. We invited working parents and their children to appear in the movie, and featured moments of the actual interaction that they had. By doing so, we created contents that gave a real sense of the invaluable and important time spent between parents and children. At the marketing consortium, there were participants whose eyes filled with tears watching the movie. It drew quite a strong response from the audience.
--(Having watched the movie) Busy working parents seem to feel lonely, somehow, but the contents of the movie treat that idea with great care and kindness.
Nagaiwa：I believe that an important part of parent-child communication lies in “the parts that lie beyond using the products.” What lies beyond the reading of a picture book, or the enjoyable use of sunscreen, could be interaction and dialogue. We constantly kept that in mind while developing the products.
Nagasaki：Raising children entails a series of “things that do not work as expected,” so I am sure that busy parents also experience frustrating and annoying moments when their pace is broken. Hence, the team often spoke about our desire to value the “beauty of the heart” of parents, and to help them create that state of beauty. If their hearts are beautiful, we believe their facial expressions would also become beautiful. We have also incorporated into the products our desire for these parents to be wonderful parents.
Hiraoka：I think that it is natural to have little time to spare once you have children. However, I felt that there was something dreary about directly pursuing efficiency and saving time in that process. I hope that the products with smiling characters, calming colors, and user-friendly designs can help parents to forget their stress, and thereby improve their efficiency. I would be really happy if the products could help them to relax and enrich the communication with their children.
Tako/Ika/Manbo (“Octopus/Squid/Sunfish”) products with unique design, created by the Shiseido’s Advertising and Design Department (1989)
The sunscreen packaging, shaped like the raccoon named Flavor, was produced after numerous prototypes, with a focus on the texture of the packaging.
Published in MApril 2017
- Ryohei Nagaiwa Copywriter
- Born in Tokyo. After graduating from Waseda University, he worked for two advertising companies before joining Shiseido in 2011. At present, he is in charge of the d program, advertisements in the Bungeishunju magazine, and ELIXIR.
- Yuka Nagasaki Art Director
- Born in Nagoya in 1982. Graduated from the Department of Design and Craft, Faculty of Art, Aichi University of the Arts, in 2006, and joined Shiseido the same year. Her main work as a designer includes the SHISEIDO and clé de peau BEAUTÉ brands. She is currently a member of the research team “DesignR&D,” which aims to create beautiful lifestyle culture by fusing design and technology. There, she proposes new approaches to design for e-commerce and cosmetics of the future.
- Yoshiyasu Hiraoka Designer
- Designer of Shiseido Advertising and Design Department. He joined Shiseido after graduating from Tama Art University. He has worked on the packaging design for MAQuillAGE and TSUBAKI, and is currently in charge of men’s brands and personal care brands.
- Yuka Nagasaki
- Yoshiyasu Hiraoka
- Ryohei Nagaiwa