BEIJING: Estée Lauder, Audi and Chow Tai Fook are the high-end brands making the most effective use of digital channels to engage Chinese consumers, a study has argued.

L2, the think tank, assessed how well 100 companies in the "prestige" segment deployed official websites, new media marketing, mobile and social platforms like Sina Weibo, Renren and Youku.

Estée Lauder, the cosmetics group, received the strongest total overall, on 156 points. It came in ahead of Audi, the automaker, on 152 points and Chow Tai Fook, the jewellery firm, on 151 points.

Lancôme, made by L'Oréal, logged 142 points. It was the final brand to be afforded "genius" status, requiring a rating of more than 140 points and using digital to achieve genuine differentiation.

The next four members of the charts were all from the auto sector, led by Volvo, a unit of Chinese firm Geely, on 138 points. BMW and Buick followed on 136 points, with Land Rover on 133 points.

Completing the top ten were BeneFit, manufactured by LVMH, on 129 points, and Burberry, the fashion label, on 124 points. They were among 18 "gifted" companies that are "experimenting and innovating".

The lowest scorers included Ralph Lauren, from the fashion category, on 26 points, alongside Patek Philippe, the jeweller, on 27 points. Baccarat, from the same industry, was on 29 points.

Other players with weak returns incorporated Prada on 31 points, Shanghai Tang, owned by Richemont, on 32 points, and Versace, on 34 points, once again from the fashion sector.

Some 96% of brand websites had store locators for China and 64% boasted international equivalents. A 53% majority hosted social sharing tools, while 44% allowed shoppers to view prices in Chinese currency, and a more modest 18% let visitors upload reviews.

Bobbi Brown, the cosmetics brand, was among the operators leveraging organic search on both Baidu and Google with the best results, the analysis added.

Just five brands had no social presence. Of those that did, fully 88% used Sina Weibo, the microblog, with Youku, the video platform, on 60%, and Kaixin, the networking service, on 26%.

Only 23% of brands had mobile-optimised versions of their Chinese sites, and roughly a third of these provided e-commerce options. Another 22% had apps for Google's Android operating system, which leads China's smartphone sector in volume terms.

Data sourced from L2; additional content by Warc staff