L’Occitane set to open shop on China’s largest ecommerce market

By Lucy Whitehouse

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Retailing Online shopping Brand

L’Occitane set to open shop on China’s largest ecommerce market
L’Occitane en Provence is in the final stages of confirming a deal with internet retailer Alibaba, which will see it launch a digital retail platform on the popular Tmall site.

The French manufacturer of high-end skin care products aims to launch on the platform by the end of this year, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Tmall hosts more than 70,000 sellers, controlling just under half of China’s online sales.

L’Occitane’s expansion onto the giant ecommerce platform will strengthen its position as a cosmetics player in the country; though critics worry it will dilute the prestige identity of the brand.

Brand identity

Higher-end brands have been cautious about opening up on the Tmall platform because of the site’s emphasis on discounting and its lack of exclusivity: indeed, Benefit Cosmetics lasted only a few months on the site in 2012.

The strong sales performance of Tmall, though, has brought about a shift in attitudes from prestige brands: over the last three years, the site enjoyed a tenfold sales growth to 273.7 billion yuan (US$43.9 billion).

Burberry was the first high-end brand to take the plunge, opening its web store on Tmall in April, where it retails its entire range, including its beauty products.

With L’Occitane now following suit, it appears cosmetics companies are realising the potential of third-party marketplaces.

Global focus

Although L’Occitane’s brand identity rests on the idea of local production within the Provence region of France (where it is concerned with preserving traditional personal care production techniques), the brand is becoming increasingly dominant internationally.

The brand boasts stores in 90 countries, including North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia, and has a particularly strong foothold across the States, where it has 170 stores.

In 2013 the company employed 6,600 people around the world, and created a new brand, L’Occitane au Brésil, which focused on products from the booming emerging market that is Brazil.    

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