L’Occitane is a French skincare company founded in 1976 by Olivier Baussan. The company includes several brands such as L’Occitane in Provence, Le Couvent des Minimes, Melvita, L’Occitane au Brésil and Erborian. All of their products are made with natural ingredients. L’Occitane expanded its business to China in 2005 and currently is one of the most popular luxury cosmetic brands in China and is a honk-kong listed company. However, its success in China has an origin and a strategy behind it. Thanks to digital marketing strategies, the French beauty brand is well known among Chinese consumers, and its products are considered some of the best cosmetics in the world. As of 2020, l’Occitane group has 203 stores in China mainland
As of 2020, the group gross profit margin grew by +82% mainly thanks to its China market where it performed really well on e-commerce platforms (Tmall +30% / JD +50%) but also with the launch of its skincare brand Elemis in 125 Sephora store. China market is expected to topple l’Occitane’s biggest market (USA) in 2021 (read more here).
Although, online retail accounts for the group’s main channel, for Andre Offman (vice-chairman of l’Occitane international) brick and mortar is still essential to the business, meaning the group will keep going with an O2O (Online to Offline) strategy to bring the best of the two worlds together.
“We are convinced the progress with our online and omnichannel initiatives also rides on the existence of stores and believe our long-term success will be supported by a strong store network, online activities and CRM expertise.”Source
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L’Occitane on Chinese E-commerce Platforms:
L’Occitane knows that e-commerce in China is the key to success due to the increasing willingness of Chinese consumers to purchase products online. On the first of December 2014, the cosmetic brand launched its online store on Tmall.com with the aim to increase its sales. Its products had been accessible on the Chinese Online marketplace for a while by third-party vendors.
source for this part: L’Occitane going big with e-commerce
Back then, l’Occitane decision to open its own flagship store was motivated by a will to have full control over its distribution. Indeed, the products sold by third-party vendors more often than not came from the gray market and were bought outside of China and sold to buyers on Tmall. Direct selling was the decision made back then and it was definitely the right one as well as the beginning of a big “direct selling” journey in China. The French brand is the only authorized seller of L’Occitane products and ensures quality cosmetics to Chinese consumers. Not only do they have full control over their distribution but they are also protecting the brand from the wrath of customers who would have possibly bought counterfeit from third-party vendors.
Since then l’Occitane has also opened a JD flagship store that has recorded stellar growth in 2020.
On top of the flagship store on various Chinese platforms, l’Occitane also has a website in Mandarin optimized for Baidu. When typing l’Occitane on Baidu, you’ll be sent to the brand Brand Zone. Where you’ll be able to access their Website, Baike Page (Chinese Wiki), links to buy products, online reviews, videos, and so on. The brand zone includes ads and is part of the ads that Baidu Ads offers. It is fully customizable. L’occtiane with this immersive brand zone, ensure that netizen will click on their links instead of others. The Baidu brand zone attracts the eyes but also takes a significant amount of space on the page. By including reviews in there, l’Occitane pushes visitors to see the results that they have chosen. Quite a smart move in terms of Online Reputation Management.
L’Occitane to push its Digital Channel in China (and Asia)
As the group Online sales in Asia have grown by 95% in Asia in 2021, it will obviously keep pushing all its online channels. Digital Marketing plays a major role in building your e-reputation, promoting, and in the success of your brand in China. Moreover, given China has its own platforms, it is important for companies and brands to learn which platforms will be the most useful to them. Listed below are the major e-commerce platforms regarding selling and promoting a brand.
In China, the brand has received good feedback from the public with its live-streaming campaigns on diverse social media.
Live streaming certainly played in our impressive sales recovery in China through April to June, as well as in the 95.8% growth we saw in our online channels at the Group level. With COVID-19 likely to change some shopping patterns for the foreseeable future, we plan to do more of this kind of marketing.Hoffmann
L’occitane on Chinese Social media platforms:
Does l’occitane use the full potential of Wechat?
It would seem that l’Occitane is rather active on Wechat, launching frequently paid ad campaigns at the moment as well as posting content regularly on both its official account and Wechat Chanel. The brand also has a mini-program within which you’ll find on the online store as well as a link to previous live-streaming and information to the coming one.
If there is one point on which l’Occitane could improve, it would be its Wechat Brand zone (you can find it through the WeChat search tool – read more about WeChat SEO here) which lakes in customization especially when compared to its Baidu Brand Zone.
L’occitane on Xiaohongshu :
Xiahongshu is also known as Little Red Book (LRB). On this platform, Chinese users have the possibility to share photos and videos. Compared to Instagram, shopping on social media is way more common in China. The store incorporated on Xiahongshu is a simple and effective way to maintain your brand’s image and increase your company’s sales. It is a smart move for l’Occitane to be present on the app as its customer base falls right into the little red book target audience.
Read our Guide to Xiaohongshu Marketing
Weibo a good place for high-end cosmetics brands in China?
Weibo is a great platform to use to promote your brand, as it will enable you to build your brand image by posting qualitative content like photographs or videos of your campaigns. This is a great social media to use in order to maximize your exposure and grow and also keep in touch with your community.
For l’Occitane, Weibo is a fun platform to interact with its target audience through contests & lucky draws and gain a massive following quickly. Although the brand is present on Weibo, it has not gathered a huge amount of followers yet. However, we believe it is about to change with the growth of the brand online channels in China.
Chinese KOLs & Live streaming: Growth factor for cosmetics brands in China.
We mentioned earlier, the growth of l’Occitane in 2020 in China was intertwined with its live-streaming strategy, so here are some tips to succeed with your live streaming & Kolsstrategy in China.
Key Opinion Leaders are also known as KOLs and Key Opinion Consumers (KOC) are major assets to reach a wide community and retain them. Finding the right KOL might seem tiring but it is absolutely necessary if you want to perfectly target and attract your consumers. If you manage to find the right KOL with a community that shares your company’s values, you can be sure that your marketing strategy will be efficient.
Chinese consumers are sensitive to feedback when buying an item. So, in order to reassure and seduce your customer target, it is necessary for you to share as much product information and characteristics as possible with the KOL you’ve chosen, this way they will be able to properly present and describe your product to their followers.
L’occitane is aware of the potential of Chinese social media platforms. In order to take advantage of the power of social networks, the brand has built a strong presence on them with the purpose to reach a huge number of consumers and interact and engage them.