In L2’s Digital IQ Index: Beauty China 2018, Estée Lauder leads the ranking as the sole Genius brand for the second year in a row. The study tracks the performance of beauty brands across four dimensions: discoverability, consideration, path to purchase, and content. Below are the top 10 brands, which excel against their peers in areas like Tmall and JD.com visibility, WeChat functionality, and celebrity campaigns on Weibo and video platforms.

1. Estée Lauder
Digital IQ: 140

The only Genius brand on the list for the second year in a row, Estée Lauder generates strong social engagement, Baidu Index performance, and product demand with bets on a range of celebrity brand ambassadors. Its campaign featuring singer Hua Chenyu generated the top Weibo post among all Index brands, while its celebrity product collaboration with actress Yang Mi for a special-edition lipstick color drove massive online buzz. Estée Lauder products score high visibility on Tmall search result pages, and the brand also takes advantage of the e-tailer’s functionality with a video live chat beauty advisor.

2. L’Oréal Paris
Digital IQ: 134

Adding to its impressive visibility on e-tailers Tmall, JD.com, and VIP.com, L’Oréal invests in omnichannel with a unique WeChat loyalty program that provides links to coupons and an offline store locator that has a scannable bar code. This makes the program accessible across the wide range of locations where the brand is sold.

3. Lancôme
Digital IQ: 132

Lancôme has developed high functionality on both Tmall and its brand site, with AR makeup try-on through Tmall and a loyalty program integrated across multiple online platforms and offline stores. The brand also targets the ever-important traveling Chinese shopper with ads linking to a store locator that shows global duty-free locations, and is following consumers’ shifting viewing habits by shifting video ad spend to focus on OTT advertising through MI Box TV. Last but not least, Lancôme was also one of the first beauty brands to experiment with WeChat’s new brand zone.

4. Chando
Digital IQ: 127

The top-ranking Chinese brand in this year’s Index, Chando gained key social engagement and Tmall sales thanks to promotions featuring the ultra-popular Chinese boy band TFBoys. It strengthened its e-commerce presence by launching DTC sales, and partners with JD.com on data-sharing while maintaining high visibility across multiple e-tailers.

5. Maybelline
Digital IQ: 123

Maybelline has the highest product discoverability of all Index brands for the color cosmetics search categories thanks to strong performance across Tmall, JD.com, and VIP.com. Its Tmall store features reviews from popular beauty community site Kimiss, where its #TattooBrow sampling campaign generated buzz on the site and high Tmall sales. On WeChat, its official profile links to the VIP.com mini-app for purchase.

6. SK-II
Digital IQ: 122

SK-II relaunched its loyalty program this year with synchronism across its brand site, WeChat, Tmall, and physical stores. It saw the highest Baidu Index growth among Index brands thanks to a range of multiple popular campaigns that led to sustained growth in interest among consumers. Its Tmall Super Brand Day for its R.N.A Magnetic booster drove more than double the previous month’s sales in one day.

7. Avène
Digital IQ: 116

Part of a three-way tie for seventh place, the brand performed well among premium names for JD.com visibility. It also promoted an official launch on VIP.com at the beginning of this year with a campaign that offered a free gift with purchase.

7. Innisfree
Digital IQ: 116

Despite being a tough year for K-beauty in China, Innisfree was one of the top five most-mentioned brands on social and cross-border shopping app RED, where it maintains an official store. It also reached China’s post-95 generation through partnering on an interactive mobile product collaboration campaign with the age group’s preferred platform, Tencent’s QQ.

7. Laneige
Digital IQ: 116

The second AmorePacific-owned brand to make the top 10, Laneige tapped into the star power of Chinese actor Xu Weizhou to achieve high engagement on Weibo. It was an investment that paid off—although Xu’s follower count of 4.7 million is tiny compared to some of China’s mega-stars, he was able to achieve higher engagement for the brand than superstar Angelababy was able to achieve for Artistry with over 80 million followers.

10. Dior
Digital IQ: 114

The LVMH-owned brand went all-in on WeChat’s increasingly popular mini-apps. Like several peers, it adopted a standard gift card format mini-app that allows users to buy virtual “gift cards” for specific products and send them to friends over WeChat. The gift card mini-app links to a second mini-app used by the brand for e-commerce. Dior was also one of the first beauty brands to try out Weibo’s Snapchat-like Stories feature to promote its Rouge 999 lipstick.

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