Branding Beauty for Global Markets

Category: International Business

Standards of beauty around the world vary as much as language and culture. Any cosmetics or beauty company hoping to turn heads in a new market has to adapt to the local idea of beauty. A look at how global cosmetics companies like L’Oréal and Estée Lauder localize their brands and products for China, the fastest-growing beauty and personal care market in the world, gives some insight on localization that’s more than skin deep.

L’Oréal and Estée Lauder are major players in China’s beauty market, despite competition from companies like Shiseido and Amorepacific. Even though L’Oréal entered China relatively late, its acquisition of local brands and segmented deployment of its existing brands have helped it achieve double-digit growth over the last decade, with 17% to 18% growth in 2011. An in-country research institute helps them innovate products specifically for their Asian markets by focusing on hair and skin differences and preferences. And it can only help that the majority of L’Oréal China’s employees are Chinese and therefore the best equipped to understand the local market, customers, and their unique needs.

Estée Lauder, which up to now has focused mostly on selling 12 of its 28 brands through airport and online retail, is taking a major leap by developing not just a product but an entire brand for the Chinese market. Called Osiao (a name chosen for both its symmetry and lucky five-letter spelling), the new brand is a skincare line that draws on more than four years of research and development. From choosing herbal ingredients that appeal to a cultural belief in the medicinal power of plants, to designing in-store counters influenced by the traditional look of Chinese apothecaries, Estée Lauder has paid careful attention to local customs and beliefs about beauty, skincare, and luxury products.

Efforts like these prove that beauty and personal care localization requires more than a few cosmetic touches.  

Photo attribution: theinvisiblewombat