L’Oréal’s online KOL innovation with a Chinese startup

A while ago, we talked about L’Oréal has been at the forefront of the consumer-centric digital innovation in China(see link here). This time we updated another interesting move from the beauty giant.

L’Oréal is now turning its own BA(beauty advisor) into powerful online beauty influencer in order to bring in more revenues. The strategy has been achieved by working with a local startup called Meione which is established in 2014 and invested by Alibaba. L’Oréal started the pilot project with Meione back in October 2016 and it is said their partnership grows substantial traction and momentum.

As much easy as we might imagine starting from the grassroots to online celebrities can happen within overnight, the mechanism is actually a lot more complex. Similiar to those talent agencies or modeling agencies in Hollywood, Meione is specializing in transforming a nobody from nowhere into a powerful online influencer.

Every year L’Oréal would handpick a bunch of candidates from its BA talent pool and hand them over to Meione to do the online stardom packaging. Meione is mainly in charge of the responsibilities of:

  • photo shooting
  • online video streaming
  • campaign content generation
  • social media follower curation
  • App and social community operation
  • social e-commerce distribution

One successful case built by Meione is L’Oréal’s BA called Austin. He is now touted as the “Iron Lip Man” who can test over 300 different lipsticks during 7 hours video streaming demo and amassing 640,000 fans on Sina weibo.

It is said whatever Austin promotes woman buys, and sometimes the lipsticks he recommends could be sold out within seconds. Furthermore, he was contributing solid sales for L’Oréal for a while, but not for long. He had the humble beginning to work for L’Oréal as a BA at the monthly salary around RMB5000 (USD735), though L’Oréal elevated him to the position of beauty KOL, he is now setting up his independent studio with a team of 8 people, making millions of income, and more often than not promoting other cosmetics brands such as Tom Ford. The KOLs L’Oréal has nurtured will very likely fly away from the nest once their wings have become full-fledged.

L’Oréal’s e-commerce channel now accounts for at least 27% of its total sales and the figure is expected to rise continuously. L’Oréal should and must walk adeptly on this digital innovation path; online KOL is one very important vertical to dig into, even though it often means no small investment for the beauty conglomerate.

By: Cecilia Wu