Slowly but surely beauty brands are making digital strides.

L2, a digital think tank and intelligence firm, released its fifth annual Digital IQ Index for Beauty on Dec. 17, reporting that L’Oréal Paris was the number-one brand, while Lancôme came in second and Clinique in third.

“Typically, [the number-one brand in digital] has been more prestige, but L’Oréal Paris has made a lot of strides, mainly in personalization within the site itself,” said Eunice Byun, vice president of beauty and CPG at L2 Inc. “They released the app Makeup Genius, which has garnered a lot of publicity and buzz.”

Lancôme’s ranking was due to its loyalty program with an omnichannel focus, Instagram campaigns and e-gifting initiative that began before the holiday season. Clinique was praised for its updated mobile page, its StartBetter campaign and the relaunched site that integrates its Skin Diagnostics tool.

But according to the study, Em Cosmetics, a brand most would have expected to flourish due to Michelle Phan’s following, lost ground this year versus last.

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Em Cosmetics declined to comment on the L2 study.

“They haven’t been able to find a way to transition their efforts from an e-commerce perspective,” noted Byun, adding that Juicy Couture fragrance was also down particularly because it removed ratings and reviews from its Web site this year.

To that end, Jenny Shen, beauty research lead at L2, declared that mass brands are “increasing their digital savvy and how they partner with retailers.

“From all the research that we’ve seen in the prestige market, their sales are still growing and mass sales overall are still kind of sluggish,” said Shen, “but there’s a greater impedance for mass brands because of Amazon, Wal-Mart and Target, who are really upping their game.”

As beauty continues to up the ante in digital, consumers are opting for smaller screens. The report included that mobile search volume grew from 36 to 45 percent.

“Mobile optimized experience is pretty much nearing ubiquity [in terms of research and product information],” said Byun, noting that for the 49 brands L2 looked at, 98 percent have mobile optimized sites.

Meanwhile, sponsored posts spending has gone up by 75 percent.

Byun declared, “As a beauty brand, if you are not investing at a similar level [in digital], you’re actually falling behind the curve.”

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