Selfies help drive L'Oreal's China sales amid a beauty craze

Selfies help drive L'Oreal's China sales amid a beauty craze

French cosmetics giant L'Oreal SA said it now sells more in China than it does in its own country.

Chief Executive Officer Alexis Perakis-Valat said on Thursday in Shanghai that its Chinese sales increased 4.6 per cent to 14.96 billion yuan ($2.29 billion) last year.

One of the major growth engines driving the sales of the company last year is the multi-brand make-up boom.

And he attributed the boom to the sweeping craze for "selfies", with women, he said, demanding products which make them look "instantly good".

Despite that annual sales rise in China actually falling 3.1 per cent on 2014, Perakis-Valat said he is confident that China "will soon become" the company's number one market. The United States is now the largest market of the company.

L'Oreal first entered China in 1996 and within nine years the country was in its top 10 markets, rising to its third by 2010.

In recent years, Perakis-Valat said, China has been "really waking-up to makeup".

The latest figures showed last year the French firm's cosmetics sales grew 10.9 per cent, while those for other skincare products increased 2 per cent and perfume by 6.2 per cent.

It does not give out exact growth rates for specific types of sales in China, but the CEO said "in China, things are always bigger and faster".

He did reveal, however, that on the Nov 11 online shopping carnival, its cosmetics brand Maybelline sold 100,000 lipsticks in 24 hours. And he said e-commerce sales in China recorded upward of 60 per cent growth during the whole year.

While China's overall luxury market has reported sluggish, if not negative, growth in recent years, Perakis-Valat said L'Oreal has not seen any slowdown in the sector.

He used the company's 600-yuan face serums as one of its luxury items, for instance, and said he remains optimistic that those types of product will continue to enjoy solid and healthy growth in China.

Its biggest luxury brand here is Lancome, which he claimed rose to number one in the luxury market in China during 2015.

The company also announced the appointment of Stephane Rinderknech as its China CEO. Perakis-Valat will continue to be responsible for the Asia-Pacific region as executive vice-president and a member of L'Oreal's executive committee.

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