Luhan is the new China ambassador for L'Occitane.

HONG KONG — Provence-inspired beauty company L’Occitane Group saw its China quarterly sales surge thanks to new celebrity brand ambassador, Luhan.  

For the three months ended June 30, unaudited China sales overall grew 26.9 percent in local currency terms to 29.8 million euros. On online marketplaces, however, the growth was even more pronounced, with sales on third-party e-commerce platforms such as JD.com and Tmall growing 250 percent in the first quarter.

The company did not disclose profit figures. Known for its natural and organic approach to skin care, the firm reported global net sales increased 2.7 percent for the quarter ended June 30 to 279.5 million euros. 

Appointed in May by L’Occitane, Luhan is an actor-singer formerly of the boy band EXO and is sometimes dubbed China’s “Justin Bieber.” Lu’s first appearance for the brand was a campaign for its cherry blossom body- and hand-care collection. 

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While China sales last year grew substantially when musician Xue Zhiqian was the brand’s China spokesperson, the growth of 11 percent in 2016 pales in comparison to the most recent set of results.

Kim Leitzes, the ceo of ParkLU, a China influencer marketing agency said, “Luhan is the number one ‘nuan nan’ a heart throb with a friendly, sunny personality that fits perfectly with the L’Occitane brand. Every thing Luhan does sells out. He is only rivaled by Xue Zhiqian, who also has an extensive female following but his humor is a better fit for KFC than a personal care brand.”

“The fan fervor for K-pop stars like Luhan is on a completely different level compared to celebrities like Angelababy,” she continued. “Weibo following alone doesn’t capture this loyalty index, if simply comparing Luhan’s 36 million followers vs. Angelababy’s 82 million. Luhan’s core audience is younger, and fan base is very well-organized with regional support across Mainland China.  The moment he collaborates with a brand, his fan apparatus gets set in motion.”

The company operates 199 stores in China, although 10 belong to its secondary brand Melvita. 

The group also saw Hong Kong return to profit, up 5.4 percent which it credited to “improved contributions from travel retail and distribution channels.”

Brazil and Japan were strong markets for the group, growing 13.7 percent and 4 percent in local currency terms, respectively. The U.K. and the U.S. were weak spots, falling 14.3 percent and 7.3 percent respectively.

Reinold Geiger, chairman and chief executive officer of L’Occitane, said, “We are pleased to report a solid start to fiscal year 2018, which was supported by good returns from our ongoing marketing activities, particularly in China and Japan. We hope that our new ‘Sunshine concept’ stores, which will open soon in strategic markets, will further support this momentum.

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“We will also invest further in our new product pipeline, including the relaunch of the classic Devine range later this year and the introduction of an all-new hydration range in early 2018. This will enable us to appeal to new and existing customers and increase our visibility in the highly competitive marketplace.”