NEW YORK: Most major cosmetics and beauty brands have not yet adapted to the digital era, a study has found.

Consultancy L2 argued magazines now deliver 6% of US media consumption, but firms making skincare products, anti-ageing creams and similar ranges allocate 44.7% of ad budgets to these titles.

TV is also over-represented, taking 32% of the time spent with communications channels and 44.7% of advertising funds.

However, although the web commands 26% of shopper attention, internet display receives 3.5% of category expenditure.

"For an industry built on the promise of youth and vitality, its marketing strategy is, well, ageing," L2 said.

When assessing the online and mobile performance of these brands, L2 gave a 40% weighting to official websites, covering positioning, interface, technology and e-commerce capabilities.

Digital marketing, from search to blogs, held a 30% importance, with social media on 20%, and mobile sites, apps and iPad integration on 10%.

Clinique claimed first with 145 points, credited for introducing user reviews and "live chats" on its website, alongside the "My Skin Consultation" feature, which "brings the experience of the beauty counter to life."

Moreover, an excellent search engine, the ability to buy online and an "auto-replenish" function were supplemented by a globally targeted Facebook page.

MAC, in second on 143 points, was the only other "genius" named by L2, as 50% of its web visitors are between 18 and 34 years old, partly due to a tie-up with pop star Lady Gaga.

Its status as a "passion" brand was confirmed by the fact its number of Facebook "likes", over 1.2m, registered an index rating six times greater than corresponding Google enquiries.

Third-placed Lancôme, described as "gifted" on 134 points, was one of the top performers on Twitter and has developed an iPad app offering a "virtual palette", product information and further services.

Another driver of its success is Michelle Phan, a young makeup artist who uploads monthly videos, boasting 1m followers and 50m hits on YouTube, and boosting Lancôme's Facebook fan base by 263% since March.

Aveda, L'Oreal Paris and Bare Escentuals completed the top five, with Perricone MD, Bobbi Brown, Avon and Benefit the next-best brands, with each member of this group being defined as "gifted"

Netizens spent nearly two minutes longer on the websites for Clinique and MAC than those for "gifted" and "average" operators.

They also typically racked up 4.3 visits per person, measured against.3.7 concerning the second and third tiers.

At the corporate level, the eight Estée Lauder brands in the rankings, including Clinique, recorded a median figure of 118 points, having recognised "economies of scale" that can be deployed across the web.

L'Oréal was slightly behind its rival, but posted a social media rating four points greater than Estée Lauder.

A lack of consistency was almost universally observable elsewhere, as demonstrated by the substantial gap between the highest and lowest scoring Shiseido products, reaching 79 points.

Such a difference stood at 59 points for LVMH, the world's biggest luxury conglomerate.

Social sharing was the interactive tool most commonly hosted by brand sites, on 62.5%, with consumer reviews on 42.5% and live chat on 30%, but email remains the dominant medium.

Amazon and Sephora drove a considerable amount of traffic to official websites, with digitally advanced manufacturers diverting shoppers in the opposite direction, creating a "win-win" situation.

Facebook was also in the top eight sources of traffic for 78% of monitored brands, although it yielded just 8% of unique visitors, falling to 25% and 5% for YouTube, and 10% and 4% regarding Twitter.

Data sourced from L2; additional content by Warc staff