Global Beauty brands are under intense pressure in China amid increased competition with local and Korean brands. Chinese brands maintain the highest average Digital IQ in L2’s Digital IQ Index: Beauty China; although all the Genius brands in the study are Western, digitally they continue losing ground to their Asia-Pacific competitors.
The Paris-based brand expanded its Sina Weibo fan base this year by collaborating with multiple celebrities and a broad network of influencers in a series of social campaigns. For example, the Cushion CC cream campaign garnered 24.7 million impressions and 57,000 UGC mentions. Lancôme also leads on the more popular WeChat, accounting for half of the top 10 posts by Beauty brands. The brand’s account is boosted by advertising and tight integration with its loyalty program; Lancôme is also not above making direct pleas for brand engagement at the end of each post.
2. L’Oréal Paris
Digital IQ: 158
L’Oréal Paris distinguishes itself through its comprehensive loyalty program. Points are rewarded for both online and offline purchases, and users can redeem them on the brand site as well as by SMS and on the brand’s WeChat account, Tmall store, and mobile app.
The brand’s “House of Beauty” mobile app also provides a best-in-class experience, including bar code scanning for offline products and connection to Tmall for online purchases. Meanwhile, the brand’s experiments with sponsored filters on “In,” a mobile-based photo app, struck a chord with younger users.
3. Estée Lauder
Digital IQ: 150
Notably, the brand controls 100% of first-page organic brand search results on Tmall, eliminating disruption from the gray market. It also stands out on social. For example, one campaign on mobile social app “Nice” encouraged users to upload photos with sponsored “Stand Out To Be Cool” stickers – generating 144,288 UGC photos as a result.
Furthermore, Estée Lauder leverages the Baidu ecosystem to boost brand awareness, search volume, and organic search visibility. The brand drove consumers to Baidu Zhidao (similar to the Yahoo Answers Q&A site) hosted campaign pages by purchasing ads on relevant sites through Baidu’s programmatic network, ads in Baidu’s music app, a Brand Zone featuring video, and paid links against branded long-tail keywords.
Digital IQ: 146
Olay used mobile community app Mei Zhuang Xin De to discover potential influencers, inviting users to post screenshots of their personal pages with follower, posts, and engagement stats. To raise brand awareness, the 20 most active users were rewarded with full-size Olay products. The brand also leveraged Sina Weibo banner ads to drive traffic to its CSR campaign discussion page with the hashtag #The Same Appreciation to a Different Kind of Beauty.
5. Maybelline New York
Digital IQ: 137
Maybelline controls 67% of first-page organic brand search results on Baidu, the most of any Index brand. Maybelline is also the most popular Beauty brand on Youku, amassing more than 46 million views – more than four times the view count of the next-largest brand channel. That success was propelled by before-and-after transformation videos from popular CCTV6 reality show “Come on Cinderella,” which the brand sponsored. Maybelline’s contestant transformations were featured in vignettes throughout the show; the brand also launched a dedicated campaign site hosting show video clips.
Digital IQ: 134
SK-II is the most improved Index brand this year, rising in the ranks from Challenged to Gifted. The brand opened an official WeChat account in February 2014 and invested in the channel as the focus of its social strategy. In addition, SK-II engaged in concerted advertising efforts on both video platforms and mobile apps; its “Change Destiny” video is the Index’s most popular celebrity-commercial on Youku.
Digital IQ: 131
Innisfree’s increasing popularity is reflected in search volume on multiple platforms including Baidu and Taobao. Along with fellow Korean brand Etude House, Innisfree is the most searched Index brand on Youku. The brand gained share through a sophisticated direct-to-consumer brand site, gamified cross-channel loyalty program, and conversion of VIP customers into influencers.
Digital IQ: 130
The only local brand to join the top 10, Inoherb distinguished itself through a TV to Online marketing strategy. The brand sponsored the third season of popular TV show “Dad, Where Are We Going?” which airs on Mango TV. Using the Mango TV app, viewers could purchase Inoherb products while watching the show or enter contests to win coupons. The show’s star Liu Ye was named an Inoherb brand ambassador and frequently promoted Inoherb sweepstakes through his Sina Weibo posts, while the brand itself amplified buzz and engagement through its own presence on Sina Weibo and WeChat.
Digital IQ: 129
Like other Top 10 Beauty brands in China, Clinique built a social following by experimenting with the Nice app’s branded stickers. As a result of the #FaceForward campaign, 61,000 photos on Nice were tagged with Clinique #FaceForward stickers. The brand is also strong on WeChat, with a loyalty program that lets fans who interact with the brand’s account earn points and redeem them within the app.
Digital IQ: 125
Laneíge is the most mentioned brand on Sina Weibo, scoring more than 21,000 average monthly mentions. The brand’s popularity also extends to Youku and mobile-based beauty communities.
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