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In an ode to female authors, Aesop transforms Shanghai and Guangzhou stores into libraries

Skincare and fragrance brand Aesop has woven books into its identity, regularly removing all products from shelves to temporarily transform a store into a literary sanctuary. In China, it launched Aesop Women's Library in one Shanghai store in 2023. This year, the concept has expanded to three stores in Shanghai and Guangzhou, prompting the theme A Tale of Two Cities.

From 1 to 17 March 2024, the weeks surrounding International Women's Day, Aesop is dedicating its three mainland China stores to books written by women or centering the female experience. Dr. Shen Qilan, a Shanghai-based art critic and writer, has selected around 45 titles with the help of other authors and critics and will also be hosting reading sessions. 

After registering as an Aesop member, visitors can pick up a book free of charge, no purchase required. Selections are tailored to each store, and every book is stamped with a limited-edition, store-specific seal. Aesop is giving away thousands of copies and the response has been overwhelming, with crowds lining up for blocks.

People lining up outside one of Shanghai's two Aesop stores

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In a screen-centric world, Aesop's dedication to printed books stands out. The brand's embrace of literature as a conduit for reflection and connection is like a quiet rebellion against instant gratification and scattered attention. By encouraging moments of pause and contemplation, Aesop positions itself as a source of well-being and self-discovery.

How could your brand appeal to people's desire for deceleration and meaningful offline experiences? Could you adopt Aesop's 'slow marketing' approach to foster deeper emotional connections with your customers?

Related: Aesop's queer library hands out free books to celebrate London Pride