The digital strategy of L’Oreal in China

欧莱雅 (ou lai ya) also known as l’Oreal has taken a great grasp of how the Chinese market works and how important the web and digital are in this market. In this article, I will provide you with the key elements of L’Oreal’s digital strategy in China.

General overview of l’Oreal


L’Oreal, one of the biggest makeup brands in the world has seen tremendous expansion throughout these last few years. According to L’Oreal’s official financial statement, the brand sold over 25.26 billion euros of product value and generated 4.388 of profit revenue in 2015 worldwide. As for online L’Oreal sales, they increased by 40% from  2014 to 2015 reaching over 1 billion euros of revenue and accounting for 5% of the total turnover of the group.

What about China?

China is the second biggest market in terms of sales for L’Oreal after the USA and even before France it’s home country. Despite the current Chinese economic slump down, L’Oreal enjoyed a slight increase of 3.5% in sales from 2014 to 2015. Among all international beauty and makeup brands,  L’Oreal Paris was the first one to open a store on Tmall.  As for the mass-market Maybelline was first as well as the following brands: Magic in the skincare mask segment market and Men’s expert men cosmetics brands.

Going digital in China

With over 700 million internet users in China, people are very tech-savvy and heavy users of the internet. According to the last data, about 90% of Chinese netizens use their mobile phone to access the internet. Needless to say, expanding on the Chinese market requires a thorough digital marketing strategy.

Marc Menesguen, the president in charge of L’Oreal’s consumer products divisions shared during a 2014 earnings call that over 10% of the brand’s sales come from e-commerce in the Chinese market. Also, sales online doubled year-over-year between 2013 and 2014. As for the active cosmetics division, about 70% of the product sales were made online in 2014.   In addition, according to China Internet Watch, in 2015, 56% of luxury e-commerce buyers purchased cosmetic products, and obviously, women are the highest spenders in this category.  Another thing you should know is that 8 out of 10 Chinese consumers are online shoppers!

How did L’Oreal become a powerful brand using digital marketing strategies?


L’Oreal went mobile with mobile apps

As I told you earlier, most Chinese netizens use mobile phones to search for information, buy products, or even get food delivered.

As a matter of fact, over 80% of Baidu’s searches are done on mobile. The same goes for online shopping in China with about 9 out of 10 consumers using their mobile phones to buy online.

After opening their own Tmall shop in 2010, L’Oreal took a step further and created a specific brand for the Chinese market called “Magic” and a unique innovative app called Makeup Genius. This mobile app was specifically designed by Loreal to enable any woman to try on some makeup products virtually. The lady just has to hold on to the phone like a mirror and wait for the “magic” to happen.


Makeup Genius launched in 2014 is very successful. As of 2015, more than 14 million downloaded the app worldwide among which 4.7 million were from the Chinese market! Several factors from the number of Chinese netizens as well as an easy way to try on heavy makeup which is not a common thing to do in China. As Asmita Dubey, in charge of the Chinese marketing strategy at L’Oreal stated:  “Girls in China can be shy to apply makeup if they are at the counter or if they are going out with friends — they don’t want to put on very dark lipstick, very dark eye shadow,”

Use of social media and KOLs


Having an app extended brand awareness by making cosmetics more accessible to young women interested in makeup. However, the strategy would not be complete without social media. The two main Chinese social media platforms ( at least today) are WeChat, an instant messaging mobile app, and Weibo, a micro-blogging platform similar to Twitter. WeChat has over 600 million monthly active users in China while Weibo enjoys about 222 million active users.

The Makeup Genius possesses a feature that enables the user to directly purchase online and to share their on WeChat with their friend during their makeover.

In order to attract even more consumers, several videos were posted on both WeChat and Weibo to present to different L’Oreal brands.

fan bing bing

In 2015, L’Oreal launched a video online campaign on WeChat during France’s annual Cannes Film festival. The group used a picture of their beautiful brand ambassador Fan Bing Bing, a famous Chinese actress, and singer, to attract WeChat users to click on the image to watch a video asking for the viewers to join her ( a bit like Snapchat stories) in her journey at the Cannes Film Festival. This campaign helped L’Oreal to gain more followers and even bought online.

As for the men’s cosmetics products of L’Oreal, the company created a specific avatar for their brand ambassador Jing Boran and inserted it into Cool Run every day, a very famous online video game on WeChat. Afterward, players could receive some coupons to buy L’Oreal products.

SEO & Content Strategy on Their Website.

It is really interesting to see a brand finally settled on its site, quality information for users: beauty tips.

This is beneficial for SEO … but mostly it gives a reason for curious girls to go on the site for beauty tips. Most of the official websites of brands do not have so many visitors because of a lack of interesting content.

L'Oreal China

and here… L’Oreal change it!

For the Landing Page … (or product page) They use the same template as Tmall .

Clever strategy gives a maximum of information to the user on their website and gives opportunities to people to buy with the same introduction as Taobao/Tmall. And you save your effort at the same time.

L'oreal website China

E-reputation and word of mouth

One of the most traditional cultural traits in China or should I say aspects of the Chinese culture is the principle of “Guan Xi”. Guan Xi means “connection” but is a bit different from our western concept of the social network. It encompasses long-term reciprocal relationships and a wide network made of relatives, friends, and co-workers. Knowing this, you must also know that Chinese people heavily rely on reviews, comments, and general advice coming from others whether they are coming from family members or the internet. That is the reason why word-of-mouth is big in China.

L’Oreal understood it well and opened for their Lancome brand, a website called Rose Beauty, which enables visitors to read product reviews coming from users. It also has several other features like makeup tutorials, and product information and even provides some samples for those who want to post a review.  For Amista Dubey, “It becomes your product review platform, your community platform, your beauty platform.”

loreal China

As you can see from L’Oreal’s well-though digital marketing plan, o2o (online-to-offline) is important in China and should include several traits: social media, e-reputation, KOLs (key opinion leaders) or influencers and a diversity of content to keep the visitors/fans engaged.

Other articles about cosmetics in China

Chinese users behaviours on WeChat (Report): The 2016 report by Tencent Pinguin Research was published to mak…

— Olivier VEROT (@Olivierverot) 19 juillet 2016

You can also read our full guide on the Top Marketing Strategies to Succeed in the Beauty Market

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