Under the influence – L’Oréal versus the livestreaming room

During the Singles Day shopping festival, L’Oréal sold products at the lowest price in its own live streaming room rather than in the top influencers' as they had promised.

Photo from CFP

Photo from CFP



China’s top live streamers LI Jiaqi and Weiya announced on November 17 that they had suspended cooperation with cosmetics giant L’Oréal following accusations of false promotion during this year’s Singles Day shopping bonanza.

Li sold packs of L’Oréal facemasks for 429 yuan (US$67) each, which, according to the brand, was the “biggest discount of the year.” However, a few days later, the same masks were available for only 257.7 yuan on L’Oréal’s own site, with coupons worth 200 yuan for any purchase over 999 yuan.

L’Oréal then removed the product from Taobao so customers couldn’t ask for their money back and L’Oréal's customer service refused to make up the price difference.

"Li Jiaqi is just someone who helps sell our products and has no right to determine the pricing," a L'Oreal customer service staff said to a customer on Tmall. Around 10 thousand complaints have been uploaded to customer service platforms.

On November 16, L’Oreal insisted that promotions and coupons during the shopping festival meant the final price could differ from customer to customer.

Li and Weiya issued statements that they had failed to reach an agreement with the brand and would stop working with L’Oréal. If the brand failed to give a reasonable solution within 24 hours, the influencers claimed they would compensate their customers who bought the more expensive masks from them.

Before Li made his fame by his conical "OH MY GOD! Gals, buy it!", he was L’Oréal's champion sales clerk. And it was L’Oréal's influencer project in 2016 that guided Li into the live streaming business. 

On Thursday night – having called the influencers bluff - L’Oréal apologized for a “too complicated” promotion and said they would offer more coupons to the customers on Tmall as compensation.

But the customers didn't buy it. State media People's Daily said the sellers should not take advantage of the Singles Day shopping festival as their excuse to play tricks on the customers. 

Li and Weiya’s popularity is entirely down to their reputation and, most importantly, lower prices. Live streamers minimize prices to sell more, but some brands feel their brand image is damaged by low prices and are breaking away from influencers by opening their own live streaming rooms.

While it may look as if the influencers are chastising L’Oréal, but if more big brands followed suit, it would be a totally different story. And some are seriously considering to do so, business insiders who asked not to be named told Jiemian News.