China represents the future of commerce, according to the chief digital officer at L’Oréal China: it’s a place where brands can learn, experiment and grow in the omnichannel space.

“China is about two things: it’s about speed, and scale,” Hagen Wuelferth told a recent Paris conference. “You can see that in the digital revolution, because the digital revolution in China is a consumer revolution.”

There is no longer online and offline retail in the beauty category, he explained: the two are completely intertwined. For L’Oréal, more than a third of its sales overall are in digital channels – well above competitors.

“In beauty, we see that trend perhaps even faster because digital and beauty is a perfect match,” he said. (For more, read WARC’s report: China transforms L’Oréal’s omnichannel approach to beauty.)

“The consumer is neither a purely online nor purely offline consumer,” he noted. “She is the digital consumer who’s constantly on the mobile phone.

“That’s something which I don’t believe exists anywhere else in the world – the consumer is constantly in a physical and digital world. Even if she is in a physical experience, she’s checking her reviews, she’s taking photos, and she’s buying online.”

It’s not enough to have a product or advertising. Young Chinese women expect brands to make an effort to attract them whether it is online or offline and to get shoppers into traditional retail stores, brands need be creative and offer shoppers digital and social activations.

They also expect brands to help them – through consumer reviews and influencers online, or immersive experiences at the offline point of sale – but “things have to be easy”, Wuelferth stressed.

The provision of great brand experiences requires a lot of data and AI, he added, whether that’s to filter the one million plus influencers in the country or identify product trends.

Despite its success to date – L’Oréal-owned brands make up five of the top seven beauty brands in China when it comes to ‘digital capability’ – Wuelferth cautioned against overconfidence.

“We must be humble – we’re right at the beginning of this journey,” he said.

Sourced from WARC