Did Estée Lauder succeed in exporting M•A•C Cosmestics in China ?

After repurchasing the total shares of the company, Estée Lauder is exporting M•A•C in China.

M•A•C story

M•A•C has been created in 1985 in Canada by 2 American men. In 1994, Estée Lauder repurchased 51% of the company shares. But in 1997, with Frank Angelo’s death, the second director decided to resell the 49% shares remaining to Estée Lauder which is now the owner of the brand at 100%.

estée lauder

Estée Lauder opened its first store in Shanghai in 1993 and it decided then to do the same with its partner brands. Thus, the brand M•A•C started its exportation in China around the 2000s.

Its search engine reputation

Google is the most used search engine in the world, hence in China, it is censored. That is why Chinese internet users are doing their research on Chinese Google, and BaiduI had to check the reputation of M•A•C on Baidu and the results are not surprising.

On Baidu, by typing the keyword « M.A.C, » the 3 first results are :

  1. The Chinese website of the brand
  2. The Baidu Baike page (Chinese Wikipedia, the American one is also censored)
  3. The brand products sold on one of the eCommerce leaders in China, JD.com
  4. And the French website
M.A.C Baidu

On Baidu, no matter the keyword, the American website won’t appear on the first results page. Indeed, by trying the keyword « M.A.C Cosmetics », on Baidu, 4 websites of the brand will appear on the front line: the French website, the Hong Kong one, the Australian one and finally, the Chinese one.

We see that although there is censorship of the American website on the Baidu first page, M•A•C still has a good enough reputation on search engines in China.

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).

Communication with consumers on Chinese social networks is complicated.

  • Weibo: more than 100,000 subscribers and the communication with them is really bad if not non-existent.
M.A.C Weibo

On WeChat, the number of subscribers to the page can’t be seen, but we can see how many posts they did. Thus, this one only posted 2 articles since its registration: the first one in May 2014 and the second one in April 2015.

Is the problem bad communication on the Chinese social networks organized by the brand or is it the Chinese consumers that are not that interested in the information provided by this?

I also check the results of the brand on Youku (the Chinese YouTube). Thus, we see that M•A•C has a minimal reputation in these social networks.

  • Youku: 140,000 total views for 63 videos.

The brand videos don’t seem to interest Chinese consumers despite a lot of makeup tutorial videos.

The cosmetics market trends

In China, the cosmetics products market trends are basic. Chinese women mainly use :

  • Liquid foundation
  • Pinky blush
  • Black pencil and eyeliner
  • Black mascara
  • A little bit of eyes powder but mainly dark shades (black or brown, if not cream and glitter)
  • Brown eyebrows pencil
  • Red (blood-red and dark red), pinky, or orange lipsticks

The products that are often used in the West such as flesh-colored face powder, peachy blush, highlighter, and sun powder, all colors of eyes powders just like lipsticks and even accessories like eyelash curlers are not really popular in China.

That is why when you’re looking for M•A•C products on the 2 main Chinese eCommerce leaders, JD.com and Tmall, just like on the brand shopping online website, we mainly find :

  • JD.com: Mainly lipsticks (followed by some eyeliner, powders, and foundations).
  • Tmall: Lipsticks, eyeliner, liquid foundations, and dark colors eyes powders.

Its retailing process

Just like I just said, M•A•C brand products are sold at the same time online and at stores. Thus, online, Chinese consumers can buy on the brand online shopping website, nevertheless, they are not used to doing so, they prefer to order on Chinese websites such as the 2 main Chinese eCommerce JD.com and Tmall.


JD.com is selling more than 1000 references of the brand but these sales are done by resellers. On Tmall, it’s the same thing, resellers through the website are selling M•A•C products to Chinese consumers. Tmall has 100 references for the brand on its website.


Nevertheless, in order to do research on these websites, sometimes it’s needed to type the Chinese name of the brand which is 魅可. Indeed, by typing « MAC » or «  M.A.C », you might end up on Apple’s computers.

Regarding physical stores, M•A•C owns 70 of them within the whole of China, and 8 of them are in Shanghai. Its retailing process is thus pretty satisfying for a set up in China.

M.A.C Cosmetics

Its market shares

Regarding market shares of the brand, it is impossible to know the figures about only China. Moreover, the brand now belongs to the American group Estée Lauder, thus this last one’s market shares will appear first. Indeed, Estée Lauder is a really popular brand in China. Besides, it is the first on Baidu’s rank of the best foreign brands in China.

Estée lauder 2

To conclude, the makeup brand M•A•C was set up in China after being repurchased by the American group Estée Lauder. Based on the already well-set reputation of the group, M•A•C succeed in creating a place for itself in the Chinese cosmetics market. Nevertheless, this reputation is limited since Chine beauty product consumers prefer dermo-cosmetics to makeup. It might be because of this reason that the brand is having a hard time imposing itself definitively within the Chinese cosmetics market. Plus, the huge beauty products competition from the neighboring country of China, and South Korea is tarnishing European and foreign brands.

If you want to know more about marketing in China, click here.

For more information about cosmetics in China

Read (New) the Top Guide for Export Brands to China 

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