Our inaugural Digital IQ Index: Personal Care China report, released this week, assesses the digital performance of 73 local and foreign brands in the China personal care market. The brands span across six categories (Men’s Grooming, Bath and Shower, Deodorants, Hair Care, Oral Care, Tissue and Hygiene) and are ranked using four metrics (Site & E-Commerce, Digital Marketing, Social Media, and Mobile). L2 Researcher Emma Li, who led the study, tells us about the process of preparing the report.

Tell us about your work prior to the China Personal Care study.

I joined L2 in 2011 to become a core researcher for the second China Digital IQ Index, and have since been leading the China/APAC research initiatives to help tailor our Digital IQ methodology to local markets. Prior to switching my focus to Asia, I worked on a number of other research projects, mapping global digital footprints for Hotel and Fragrance brands, and helping Beauty and Fashion brands develop digital and organizational strategies for China.

How was doing a personal care study different from doing a luxury study?

Last year, we extended our annual ranking for prestige brands to different verticals (Beauty, Hotels, Fashion and Watches & Jewelry) and expanded our research focus to other APAC markets including Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore. This year, we rolled out our inaugural Personal Care study, which I enjoyed working on a lot. The Personal Care brands have been leaders of digital innovation in China, as this has been a sector not traditionally consumed by Chinese consumers, namely men’s grooming and deodorants. Digital is an effective way to reach and engage younger consumers who are digitally savvy and more willing to explore an urban western lifestyle than the generation before them. Looking at the sophistication of personal care brands’ CRM programs, online offline synergies and e-commerce adoption has been a great learning experience for me, personally. The brands are different from luxury brands in that they are more cautious about their digital investment in China. However, personal care brands’ often outdated websites and scattershot e-commerce strategies make mapping their digital footprint somewhat trickier.

What surprised you in your research for the China Personal Care study?

What surprised me the most is, despite having the advantage of local knowledge, local brands have not yet developed a clear digital strategy to engage local consumers. They have been heavily invested in traditional media and focused on penetration in lower tier cities, but have failed to build brand image and consumer loyalty online. They rely heavily on episodic social media campaigns to create buzz, instead of long-term and recyclable investments in ongoing conversations with local consumers.

Download an excerpt of our Digital IQ Index: Personal Care China here.

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