L'Oréal's tech strategy is "apt" for its customers. Source: Shutterstock

L’Oréal’s tech strategy is “apt” for its customers. Source: Shutterstock

L’Oréal proves tech is key to thriving in the digital age

ORGANIZATIONS in every industry are using technology in one way or another.

In the case of L’Oréal, with so much going on with product development and providing real-world experiences, it’s easy to think that digital transformation isn’t really a priority — but L’Oréal Digital Director Christian Skaar tells us otherwise.

“At L’Oréal, we are fully committed to continuously lifting the customer experience at all touchpoints to the next level,” Skaar told Tech Wire Asia.

The company is geared towards showcasing itself as a total beauty care company, and a large part of that experience is driven by salons.

The brand, Skaar explained, works with local salons across the globe to transform their offline presence.

The company provides physical shelves that feature shelf-talkers with top-selling products, and digital frames that showcase their latest services, among other exciting solutions, to make every salon visit a positive experience for the consumers — and works towards replicating this success in the digital world.

“We take into account that consumers are searching and request our products online. Therefore we work with our e-retail partners to underline our professional difference also in the digital space.”

Bridging the gap between online and offline

“We are ensuring a recognizable standard for each brand when it comes to both online and offline experience. This might sound trivial but with a lot of players on the market, offline and online, one of our key priorities is to have a common brand perception.”

While L’Oréal primarily works with salon professionals, Skaar emphasizes that digital era allows them to reach a lot more consumers directly.

“Salon brands traditionally did not focus on ‘direct to consumer’ communications. Our spokespersons were the stylists in a salon who had a one on one communication with their clients. Today, we can amplify this and spread the message to a lot more consumers [via digital].”

Skaar actually sees digital as a big factor in the company’s growth.

Co-created content where L’Oréal collaborates with stylists, for example, emphasizes the company’s “professional salon” heritage and proves effective in earning the trust of consumers who tend to trust stylists’ opinions and reviews.

To be honest, Skaar seems to really appreciate the fact that digital marketing allows the company to maximize their advertising budget “better than in the analog past”.

“[Using digital marketing], we can reach consumers that are open to salon products but haven’t used them yet. The challenge is always to spread the right content to the right person. One size fits all was yesterday, hence we are enabling our teams to overcome this challenge and offer the right talk to each and everyone by offering different content.”

A smart digital strategy amplifies the brand image

Having a smart digital strategy has not only helped L’Oreal acquire new customers but also make more targeted investments than in the analogue past.

“The difference we need to make online is [provide] the consultation which we offer offline.”

Skaar believes that in the digital world, customers are unable to ask a stylist about products — which is quite a deviation from the customer-friendly experience that L’Oréal works so hard to create.

“As a result, we require our online partners to provide a hotline for consumers in case of questions. In order to have the best experience we also train the teams of our partners on our products to be able to better support their clients.”

L’Oréal continues to work towards getting an edge over its competitors by integrating new technology to improve its customer experience.

“Be it a virtual try on of hair colors via our professional stylemyhairapp (powered by modiface) or via my UV patch the first connected patch that educates on sun-smart behavior. These and many more technologies enable us to answer consumers needs in a clever way, sometimes even in ways that they did not even think they were possible.”

Skaar will be speaking more about his company’s strategy at the upcoming eTail Asia 2019 event in Singapore next month, but an important milestone he shares is his company’s acquisition of Modiface, a Canadian provider of augmented reality (AR) solutions.

In fact, just a few months ago, through Modiface, L’Oréal created AR-powered make up try-on experiences from the world’s leading beauty brands, such as Maybelline, L’Oréal Paris, NYX Professional Makeup, Lancôme, Giorgio Armani, Yves Saint Laurent, Urban Decay, and Shu Uemura — in partnership with Facebook.

At the end of the day, Skaar seems excited about digital and confident that L’Oréal can benefit from digital — although the company is careful about how it utilizes its resources.

There’s an intentional bias for technologies that help them excite and engage the customer — a strategy that seems to be working out for the billion-dollar company with double-digit growth in operating margins.