When China’s TikTok counterpart, Douyin, first launched its e-commerce strategy in the country, most brands that chose to engage this particular channel were local. However, as traffic on Douyin continues to accelerate, and the new eco-system becomes established (thanks in large part to its interest-focused approach), more and more prestige beauty brands have decided to join in. 

In 2022, first quarter retail sales of beauty products in China grew by 1.8%, with e-commerce beauty sales increasing by 8%. This is impressive growth, especially as the country was facing uncertainty and limited social interactions due to COVID-19. However, what truly surprised me was learning of beauty product sales on Douyin over the same time period, which increased 164%. 

While most international beauty brands are struggling with offline sales due to COVID-19 lockdowns and less foot traffic in retail stores, mobile apps present new channel growth opportunities as lockdowns increase consumers’ time spent on their mobile devices. 

Lancôme opened its store on Douyin in May 2022 because the platform has a large consumer pool of 600 million daily active users supported by a wide range of high-quality content allowing them to connect emotionally with consumers. The success of Lancôme’s entry to Douyin is based on the well-prepared collaboration with more than 20 top beauty influencers on the platform. In fact, as of May 2022, “Lancôme”, “Lancôme 196,” and “Lancôme 888,” are three topics that have already generated more than 2 billion views on Douyin.

Thanks to strong marketing and PR, including collaborating with some of the country’s top beauty influencers, Lancôme’s sales success in China after just 10 days on Douyin cannot be disputed. And in order to maintain sales momentum and increase organic sales growth, Lancôme launched self-livestreaming every day from 4:00 p.m. to midnight, used a membership program and fan chat rooms to grow private domain traffic and to engage its consumers directly to increase repeat purchasing. Unlike traditional e-commerce platforms, more Gen Z are users of Douyin, so knowing how to create content that adapts to their preference will be critical to any brand’s success on Douyin.

For beauty brands that are watching Lancôme’s success on Douyin and considering a similar approach, I suggest the following: 

  1. Collaborate with top beauty influencers and create hot topics before officially launching on the platform.
  2. Focus on private domain traffic and utilize effective tools to manage and engage consumers (i.e., membership program, fan chat rooms, self-livestreaming, etc.).
  3. Be cautious on item selection, hot makeup items and pillar skincare items are among the top-selling products on Douyin for beauty.
  4. Content matters. Unlike traditional e-commerce platforms where price and product availability are key considerations for purchase, content is extremely important on Douyin to drive traffic and convert sales. Gen Z is a key consumer group here, so brands need to understand this generations mentality and speak their language to better cultivate them and increase exposure and awareness.
  5. Establish a well-organized omni-channel strategy so that you can convert your offline/ traditional e-commerce customers to Douyin to not only sell product but also to help spread content to new customers.