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Maybelline Shifts Focus to Online in China

This change coincides with the rise of C-beauty brands, as well as L’Oréal gradually pivoting its focus toward the prestige category. 

The L’Oréal-owned American cosmetic brand Maybelline is gradually adjusting its online and offline mix in China as it aims to shift its focus to the online market, the brand confirmed Wednesday.

Local media reported that the brand is gradually phasing out all physical stores in China.

Maybelline clarified that it is only shutting down underperforming and end of leasing contract stores in the market. The brand still operates around 10,000 offline stores, including those in Watsons and cosmetics stores in China, as well as online flagships on Tmall and JD.com.

The brand also claimed that it gained online market share in the second quarter of 2022.

In a statement sent to WWD, the brand said “In order to adapt to the changes in the market and consumer demand, starting from 2020, Maybelline New York in China has gradually carried out the strategic transformation from traditional channels to Online + Offline channels, thus bringing consumers a diversified and interactive beauty shopping experience.”

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The century-old beauty brand, acquired by L’Oréal in 1996, entered the Chinese market in 1997 and soon became a popular choice for a large number of women who moved from the countryside to big cities in pursuit of an office jobs as the nation was shifting to a service industry-led economy at the time.

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Maybelline was a key player in the affordable cosmetic sector through brick-and-mortar channels such as supermarkets and department stores, but the brand in recent years failed to catch up with local competitors and adapt to the disruptive Chinese e-commerce model.

The brand withdrew from the supermarket channel in 2018 and began to leave department stores in 2020.

This shift coincides with the rise of C-beauty brands, as well as L’Oréal gradually pivoting its focus toward the prestige category.

Data from market researcher Qianzhan Industry Research Institute shows that Maybelline’s market share in the Chinese market fell to 4.9 percent last year from 10.7 percent in 2018, while Florasis and Perfect Diary became two of the most popular brands, taking market shares of 6.8 percent and 6.4 percent, respectively.

L’Oréal’s consumer products division grew 4.5 percent to 12.23 billion euros in 2021 year-over-year, while its luxe division reported a 21.3 percent increase in the same period to 12.35 billion euros, becoming the company’s largest business unit for the first time.

While shutting all the Maybelline stores, the group earlier this month introduced Carita, the luxury skin care brand from 11 Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris, in China and is opening two stores in Nanjing and Beijing later this year.