In celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8, Australian luxury cosmetics brand Aesop presented its inaugural Women’s Library at its signature store on Dongping Road, Shanghai. The project debuted in Singapore in April 2022 to elevate women’s voices and stories, as well as to foster solidarity among women.
Between March 3 and 10, all products were removed from the shelves and replaced with a series of books related to feminism, which visitors could take for free. Meanwhile, the brand launched a series of discussion activities and podcast programs in partnership with renowned Chinese podcasters, exploring the relationship between women and literature.
The pop-up event was a hit in the city, with long queues forming outside of the store. The hashtag “Aesop Women’s Library” drove over 708,000 views on social platform Xiaohongshu. Users who snagged the free feminist books shared their picks and adoration of the marketing concept. “I feel so grateful for Aesop’s book list and really appreciate their genuineness in empowering women,” said Xiaohongshu user @kolonim.
Aesop’s minimalist aesthetic and dedication to using natural ingredients have resonated well with Chinese consumers who are increasingly concerned about the quality and safety of their personal care products. Now, it’s clear that the Australian label is diversifying beyond its clean beauty messaging to tell other stories that resonate with local customers.
But as Chinese consumers’ awareness of gender equality and women’s empowerment increases, brands must walk a fine line when developing their marketing narratives. Instead of making polarizing statements, Aesop aligned itself with the values and popular discourse of Chinese women, thus enhancing its position as a socially-conscious and responsible brand.
By transforming its offline boutique into a pop-up library with a curated selection of books, Aesop created a memorable and engaging experience for visitors. This provided them with added value and differentiated the beauty label from competitors that simply focus on promoting their products on International Women’s Day.