According to figures from market researchers Euromonitor and the NPD Group, the $8 billion beauty industry in France declined 2% in the first half of 2013; although a new report Digital IQ from U.S.-based L2 thinktank suggests that the online business has been seeing gains.
Total French e-commerce sales grew 10% last year, according to eMarketer, and, in beauty, e-commerce is the lone channel experiencing consistent growth. It is estimated that 8-12% of fragrance, skin care, and colour cosmetics sales in France now occur online.
The top ranked firms in France by L2, are Clarins and L’Occitane which were the only two to achieve the analysts ‘Genius’ status for their digital efforts.
The marketer also says that a lot of firms are turning online to build their brands. Although ad spending in TV, magazines, and newspapers is flat or declining, digital advertising is expected to experience solid growth.
Mobile ad spending is projected to grow 80% in 2014, on the back of explosive growth in smartphone and tablet adoption (64% and 43% of the French population, respectively, will use the devices by 2017).
For smartphone users, email is cited as the most frequent mobile internet activity, consistent with French internet users’ preference for email over other marketing vehicles.
The latest study does come with a slight warning though, as L2 highlights that some beauty brands have been distracted by the prospect of emerging markets, and this has been at the expense of their home market in France.
As brands fail to repatriate investments and innovation in other markets back to France, digital properties suffer. Specifically L2 highlights:
- 56% of brands fall into the Challenged and Feeble categories
- Just half of sites include video, of which only 21% supply all videos in French
- Brands are losing paid search share to online retailers, and just 56% of prestige brands and 46% of mass brands are purchasing Google.fr ads for brand terms
- Only 48% of sites are optimized for mobile, compared with 75% in the U.S.
- Brands send an average of 0.5 emails per week, lower than in sister markets, the UK and Germany
- Brand activity on social media is anemic, averaging 3.8 posts per week on Facebook, 0.5 videos per week on YouTube, and 6.3 tweets per week.
The full report can be downloaded here.