BEIJING: Estée Lauder, Lancôme and Benefit are the beauty brands making the most effective use of digital channels to connect with Chinese consumers, a new report has argued.

L2, the think tank, analysed 20 leading members of this category regarding how well they were leveraging social media, mobile, digital marketing and official websites.

Estée Lauder led the charts on 156 points. It was praised for utilising six local social media platforms, running the EL-Lady online community and optimising its websites for Chinese search engines.

Lancôme came next on 142 points. The "Rouge in Love" television ad tailored for Shanghai has been highly popular on the net, while its RoseBeauty community and activity on female-led social sites Meilishuo and Mogujie have engaged shoppers.

Benefit, made by LVMH, was third on 129 points, and combined a presence on seven social services with "best-in-class" email marketing. Clarins and Shiseido recorded 120 points apiece, having both moved ahead in the ecommerce space.

All of the featured operators were using Sina Weibo, the microblog. They had an average of 168k fans on this service, versus 1.9m on Facebook, which is not accessible in China.

Elsewhere, exactly 50% ran accounts on Kaixin, the social network. Video-sharing services Youku and Tudou logged 45% and 35% on this metric in turn.

All of the brand websites assessed had store locators, while 75% allowed for consumer reviews and had local currency prices. An extra 55% had sharing tools for Chinese social media properties.

Scott Galloway, L2's founder, added that seven beauty brands boasted dedicated bulletin board systems (BBS), typically yielding major benefits.

He said: "Brand BBS sites, including Lancôme's RoseBeauty and Estée Lauder's EL-Lady, provide robust consumer engagement platforms to manage sampling, content and consumer data capture."

Some 14 operators also offered ecommerce purchase options, with 72% supplying free shipping where shoppers met a minimum order value, averaging out at $78 overall.

Kline & Company, the consultancy, has predicted that online beauty sales will hit $20bn in China by 2016, measured against a total of approximately $8bn in 2011.

Data sourced from L2; additional content by Warc staff