Kiehl’s is an American brand very discreet in China but not that much…

Kiehl’s story

Kiehl’s has been created in 1851 in New York by the Kiehl family. At first, this brand was actually a simple pharmacy proposing home-made products. Then, rapidly, it became a real brand.

L'Oréal

In 2000, L’Oréal group decided to repurchase shares in order to make it one of its ally companies. 

Its reputation on search engines

The most used search engines worldwide is Google, hence in China, it is censored. That is why Chinese users are doing their researches on the Chinese Google, Baidu. I had to check the Clinique reputation on Baidu.

On Baidu by typing the key word « Kiehl’s, » the three-first results are :

  1. The Chinese website of the brand
  2. The american website of the brand
  3. The brand products sold in one of the two Chinese ecommerce leaders, Tmall 

Kiehl's Baidu

We can notice a predominance of Chinese versions websites. Kiehl’s possesses thus a quite good reputation in China. Moreover, it does not happen a lot but the brand’s American website appears as the third choice on Baidu.

Its marketing strategy on social networks

In China, American social networks are also censored. Thus, Twitter and Facebook are unavailable here without a VPN connection. I also checked the marketing strategy of the brand on the 2 main Chinese social networks Weibo (the Chinese Facebook) and on WeChat (the Chinese Facebook Messenger).

The brand does a better scoring on Chinese social networks than on the American one.

  • Weibo : more than 420,000 subscribers and the communication with the Chinese consumers is identical to the one with the American consumers on the American social networks.

Kiehl's Weibo

On WeChat, the number of subscribers to the page is impossible to know, however the number of posts is. Thus, this one posts at least 1 article/post per week. This figure is fine. It’s even better than other bigger foreign brands such as M•A•C which only posted 2 within 2 years of subscription.

Thus, the marketing communication of Keihl’s on the Chinese social networks is good quality. It attracts various Chinese consumers.

I also check the brand results on Youku (the Chinese YouTube). Hence, I noticed that there was none Kiehl’s official channel. This is not a good strategy since Chinese consumers love streaming videos because it is faster to get information from them.

Chinese cosmetics market trends

In China, cosmetics market trends are really high. To compare with the makeup ones which are really basic. Chinese women mostly use several products such as :

  • Makeup remover (liquid, gel, cream, oil, milk…)
  • Face cleanser (with an additional action like whitening)
  • Moisturizer cream
  • Serum
  • Mask (liquid or tissue masks)
  • Body cream
  • Face mist…

tissu mask

The products proposed in the West are less numerous, we are their opposite, Chinese people use basic makeup products while we prefer using basic dermo-cosmetics products.

Kiehl's JD

Kiehl’s results on JD.com

When you’re looking for the brand Kiehl’s on the two Chinese ecommerce leaders, JD.com and Tmall, just like on its own online shopping website, products that we can find remain the brand’s basic products although they are all various :

  • JD.com : moisturizer (liquid, cream, gel…) for the face and the eyes, serum, tonic and even UV cream…
  • Tmall : Similar to JD.com.
Kiehl's Tmall

Kiehl’s results on Tmall

However, the brand did not adapt to Chinese consumers expectations, exit the whitening effect, the brand wants to keep it home-made reputation by proposing products with still an additional action that Chinese consumers are expecting a lot such as unclog pores, UV protection…

Its retailing process

Just like I just said, Kiehl’s product are sold online but also at stores.Thus, online, Chinese consumers can buy on the brand online shopping website, nevertheless they are not used to do so, they prefer order on Chinese websites such as the 2 main Chinese online retailers JD.com and Tmall.

JD.com

JD.com sells more than 4200 references of the brand but these ones are only done by resellers. On Tmall, it is the same, it is only resellers that through Tmall website, they are selling Kiehl’s products to Chinese consumers. Tmall possesses only a little bit less than 100 references of the brand on its website.

Tmall

Regarding physical stores, Kiehl’s only owns 17 stores in China and 5 of them are situated in Shanghai. It’s retailing process is thus limited for a good exportation in China.

Its market shares

Regarding market shares of the brand, it is impossible to know the figures only about Chine. The brand still owns worldwide sales results reaching the million of dollars. Plus, since the brand belongs now at 51% to the French group L’Oréal, it is this last one’s market share that come first. Indeed, L’Oréal is by itself a really popular brand in China.

Kiehl's store

Kiehl’s has a long story behind it. It has been created at the 19th century. Even L’Oréal ta repurchased 51% of the company has been created later. In China, Kiehl’s is not really well-known either it is about its physical stores or online. Yet, it is popular. When it was created, the brand was only a pharmacy offering home-made beauty products. Today, the brand want to keep this image/reputation by retailing uniform cosmetics products in China. Moreover, its packaging is remaining simple with a really home-made and very simple style. Its exportation in China stays thus to look after.

To know more about marketing in China, click here.