Peter: Hello and welcome to episode 8 of The Corporate Digital Marketing Podcast. I’m your host: Peter Applebaum and we have, as we always do, we have a treat in store today.
We’re speaking to Christophe from L’Oréal, who you’ll meet in a little while. He’s a great communicator, but just as importantly he has a lot to communicate about from a digital point of view. L’Oréal has shown a lot of commitment and foresight when it comes to incorporating digital marketing in to the way they do their business, deal with their trade partners and most importantly engage with their customers or their end consumers. So, I think you’ll get a huge amount out of this. It was one of the longest interviews we’ve done, in fact it was the longest interview we’ve ever recorded on the podcast. But I don’t think you’ll be bored for a single second.
Peter: I would like to welcome Christoph Eymery from L’Oréal who’s the Head of Digital and Media for Australia New Zealand. Welcome Christophe.
Christophe: Thank you. I appreciate the possibility to be with you today.
Peter: And we are also joined by the Tick Yes Director of Digital Strategy, Susan Werkner, who was particularly interested in being involved in this podcast given that she is a fan of L’Oréal products. Welcome Susan.
Susan: Thank you very much. Very happy to be here and excited to chat to Christophe.
Peter: So Christophe, if we can just briefly ask what your background is. We can obviously look at what you’ve done on LinkedIn and we’ll have that on our show notes but just briefly, what is your background leading up to your position now?
Christophe: So, around 16 years ago I started at Lancôme which is part of the L’Oréal group in Paris as an intern and I discovered the world of beauty and the industry in general. I really loved it but I also wanted to travel and discover the world. So, combining that with my personal ambitions and professional goals, I ended up in Australia working in marketing and focusing mainly on digital marketing for a car manufacturer. A few years later I moved to the agency side to become a specialist and expert in digital media buying for Zenith Optimedia which is part of the Publicis Group. Then I was basically called back to focus on beauty at L’Oréal when they created this role to accelerate their digital transformation around four years and a half ago. Since then I’ve been privileged to basically drive the change internally for the business which accelerates our digital goals and make sure that we transform the business to meet the new consumer requirements in this world which is about meeting their beauty needs.
Peter: That’s one of the questions we’re going to be asking you later in the podcast and that is, is there across the board support within L’Oréal for digital initiatives. But we can wait to hear the answer to that. So, I’m going to ask a very general broad question but I think it is relevant to framing our conversation. What are the challenges and opportunities in the beauty industry overall, not just from a digital point of view?
Christophe: So, overall for the industry the main challenge is how to universalise beauty and I will explain a bit more about that concept. L’Oréal is the global leader in beauty because we have products and brands covering absolutely all the different segments of the markets. So, really trying to understand individual specific needs powering our offering VR technology and new products innovation to enhance those specific needs. But we did try to empower each consumer to achieve their own beauty. So that’s what we call the universalisation of beauty and we are simplifying these concepts under our signature of L’Oréal beauty for all. So, trying to help consumers define what beauty means for them and then delivering the right products and services for them.
The challenge in this ambition is that once you define beauty for each single individual, you manufacture and distribute the relevant products in markets for those individual consumers and you end up with a massive diversity and complexity in our offering. Today in Australia New Zealand we have more than 4,500 different products so you can imagine that when you walk into Priceline or Chemist’s Warehouse or the department stores like Myer or David Jones or the selective channels like Sephora you are faced with a huge diversity of products. So, if you truly want to deliver the beauty for all the goal is not just deliver the products but also educate consumers on how to use the products and provide them with new services and tools to achieve their own beauty and complement the product offering. We have tools that helps to understand how to use them and which one is the right one for each consumer.
Susan: Well, I think you pick the right industry because obviously Christophe, over the last 10 years the beauty and cosmetics industry has grown, while many have contracted. So according to The Huffington Post, they said this was due to the Internet. So just to get your thoughts on this and what is the impact on the beauty industry and why it has grown?
Christophe: I would say that the key driver for the beauty industry and not in the past 10 years but almost forever is education and driving beauty education at mass is the best way to drive a good understanding of the products. And if consumers understand the product and the potential benefits for themselves it will indirectly drive more purchases and more recurrent purchases of those products. It’s also a way to drive awareness about new trends. So, when the internet has changed over the past 10 years or bit more it is first giving us the possibility to have a more tailored education process for beauty. So, we launched new YouTube channels to educate consumers on hair trends and how to achieve new looks. We’ve done the same for makeup. We have a huge amount of content to educate on skin care that is available online either on our brand websites or through mobile applications.
As we know that more than 50 per cent of the entertainment consumption is on mobile we’ve created a platform that is available on those devices, the YouTube channels, the Facebook Brand accounts or Instagram global accounts. All of that is a fantastic way to not only maximise our beauty education but also to leverage data to personalise that education message. And that would be the key benefit of the Internet to me. The second aspect is that the social media revolution and the culture of the selfie has totally changed how consumers behave and socialise among themselves. And when you’re in the context of there’s a certain emphasis on marketing ourselves in the social media environment, it means to improve how you look and you prove your brand in a way your own personal branding in the social media environments will gain favour of supporting the use of makeup and looking for better skin care or hair care and hairstyle. So for me the expression of social media, the rise of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and all the different social media networks and the rise of the culture of the selfie have been key drivers for the expansion of the beauty industry because it’s really highlighting the need to look after yourself and look your best not just in the physical world but also in your new digital environments.
Peter: So, the selfie culture has really been a great driver and leads into my next question which is your stated goal globally is to have 2 billion customers by 2020. Well, firstly are you on track to achieve that objective which is only three and a half years away?
Christophe: That’s probably a question for our global CEO. But I will basically say that we’ve made significant progress in particular in the emerging markets where you have large volumes of consumers. We had a big expansion in India and in China. We’ve also increased the consumption of our products in developed countries like Australia and New Zealand by emphasising e-commerce. And when we talk about e-commerce it’s really focussing on our e-retailer partnerships with the existing brick and mortar clients which distribute our products and who have launched e-commerce platforms in Australia and New Zealand in the past six years like Priceline online, Chemist’s warehouse online, Woolworths online, Coles online, David Jones online, Myer online, etc. Although traditional brick and mortar clients, we’ve worked closely with them to accelerate that expansion which is a fantastic way to reach out to potentially new customers and also drive more frequency of purchases. And today, when we look at the growth of our business, e-commerce is one of the key drivers for incremental growth on top of the natural forecast growth for the business.
Peter: E-commerce is very much front and centre, particularly with Amazon’s launch later this year in Australia. A lot of organisations are saying that they want to sell their products online but obviously you have identified the consumer experience via your established bricks and mortar trade partners who have their own online stores. Is your strategy to always go through your third-party trade partners from an e-commerce perspective or to do it yourselves?
Christophe: It is our main priority. We’ve developed our own e-boutiques for certain brands. We launched Lancôme.com.au roughly three, four years ago. It was followed by a few others and just a couple of weeks ago we launched Giorgio Armani beauty and that would be followed by a few other luxury brands. But the big work of our e-commerce focus is really on our existing e-retailers, clients we’ve been working with for many, many years and for the past five years we’ve also expanding the whole partnerships with ‘pure players’ such as adult beauty which is our longest standing partner in this region but also RY and a few other players. They’ve achieved fantastic growth over the past few years on the back of really nailing the consumer experience providing sophisticated marketplaces for consumers to shop in beauty and that positions themselves quite strongly with the arrival of Amazon as you mentioned.
Peter: What I love about what you’ve just been outlining, Christophe is that you’re doing exactly what a lot of corporates or established organisations, and L’Oréal and your brands have been around for many decades, is that looking at digital and the Internet as a huge opportunity to expand your businesses, get new customers and get closer to your customers using those variety of channels be it in e-commerce through to social media, mobile et cetera et cetera. And I think that that is where I hope that one of the benefits of this podcast is that organisations can see wow this is a huge opportunity as opposed to a possible threat to the way we do business, which is exciting.
Susan: And I think following on from there I know that as I mentioned before I’m a loyal L’Oréal customer so I have been buying your creams, face creams and products for a long time and makeup as well. Normally I must say I buy from Priceline and Chemist’s Warehouse which I do find has a lot of price competition. I know that there’s also some foreign make-up. But first of all, is L’Oréal available through Sephora make-up and in those cosmetics as well at the moment or not?
Christophe: Yes, definitely. Maybe I should explain a bit more about the structure of the L’Oréal group. Often there’s a confusion amongst consumers and people of the industry in general. L’Oréal is not just one brand. The L’Oréal Paris brand is our historical brand. But over time it has become a group of brands covering absolutely all the different beauty segments. L’Oréal Paris is still our biggest brand and is available in the mass distribution such as Coles, Woolworths, Priceline, Chemist’s Warehouse, the pharmacy network etc. as you mentioned. But when it comes to the selective distribution channels like Sephora and MECCA we have possibly 15 brands that are part of what we call the luxury division which is the second largest division in our business in Australia. Then we have a few brands for hair salons which are part of the professional product division. And finally, we have a pool of brands for pharmacies only called the Active Cosmetic Division. So those brands have active ingredients in their formulas, hence the terminology of active cosmetics.
Susan: You obviously have a huge number of distribution partners and you’re looking to do your own sales obviously online. Where do you generate the most revenue across all your lines? Or do they differ?
Christophe: I would think that it differs. You honestly look at it as completing each other but more as complementing each other. And of course, at the core of it is the consumer. We need to look at our distribution channel and all have different levels of services and consumers are always at the centre to decide basically which channel they prefer and each retailer is developing a certain experience that will please the consumers in different ways. So, our focus is really to well continue that experience with each single retail partner.
But at the end of the day we need to deliver what the consumer wants so when they want to shop directly from the brands we are slowly offering that for certain brands but for most of the brands we mainly partnership with distributors who have the expertise and the historical knowledge to achieve that. If I take an example with MECCA we have just launched an online exclusive new palette a couple of days ago and it has been an absolute success breaking all the records in terms of sales. So, for us it was a key learning to show that when we deploy an exclusive for a certain client and have an execution that is digital online for a launch that can find its audience in this channel. This can be very very effective but it’s not necessarily the answer to each of our business changes and to all the different product launches that we must manage.
Susan: Ah, that’s interesting. I just discovered Urban Decay on a recent European trip in Nice. I went and bought Urban Decay Foundation which I didn’t know about because it doesn’t have SPF and I was looking for some that did not have SPF but I didn’t realise it is part of L’Oréal. So, I guess a lot of customer education. And that leads to another question, Christophe. How do you track to make sure there’s not any cannibalisation across all these different brands and segments and is there a way that you can track that?
Christophe: We have a centralized reporting structure hosted in the platform where we capture all our marketing activities and we try to mitigate competition internally. At the same time, there’s also a reasonable healthy level of competition internally where the brands will be sometimes communicating with the same consumer. But that’s also to maintain the need from the consumer perspective to have offering coming from different brands and each brand has their own brand territory for the customer experience but also in terms of our product offering. So, we have a certain level of internal healthy competition that we don’t necessarily want to totally remove. We still encourage it in a very healthy fashion.
Peter: So, with a portfolio of 32 international brands, do you use digital strategies and platforms primarily to localise the customer experience both in Australia and New Zealand. I realise obviously there are many customer touch points but is digital a central and primary part of that customization?
Christophe: Definitely. Digital has become the number one priority during the past four years. First it starts with the brand website which is at the centre of the digital ecosystem and overall marketing ecosystem for the brands and then it breaches out into YouTube channels. We recently relaunched the L’Oréal Paris YouTube channel and the Maybelline one as well which are now sources of content for consumers in Australia to learn about new trends and new techniques to use the products. And we are managing those channels as little TV network where we distribute very regularly contents that update consumers on how to use a product.
Peter: And I guess central to that, we talked about this a little earlier, is there across the board support within L’Oréal for the digital initiatives from the top down?
Christophe: Very strongly. So it starts at the global level where we have our global CEO defining the vision and the ambitions for the business and today we are still under the plan for 2020 where we have very clear objectives. These directions are re-emphasized in his team from the global chief officer who not only reports directly to the global CEO but also sits at the board of the company and then at the regional level our regional leads, our voicing the overall direction of the business and when it comes down to the country level, the country manager has a strong focus on digital, too. So at the most senior level of the organisation whether it’s at a global level, regional level or country level, there’s a very big push and support for digital initiatives which then makes it quite effective at my level to drive the change and get the support of the local management and push the agenda across the organisation.
Peter: Would digital sit within marketing or customer experience or is it a separate standalone division?
Christophe: It’s both, a separate and integrated organisation within the organisation we have a team of high level experts in media at a corporate level like a media director, a CRM director and a customer experience director to look at all the social media channels and the call centre and we have a big focus on the e-commerce as well. And then, within the divisions you have teams of digital experts especially in CRM e-commerce and content management that are fully part of the marketing teams and working very closely with both marketing and brand teams and the sales department, too.
Susan: So, you have wonderful support across the organisation for digital overall. What do you find are the most effective digital strategies that you’ve used? I guess why have some worked and if there aren’t any others, can you tell us why they haven’t worked?
Christophe: Probably the best success story today is the L’Oréal Paris Makeup Genius app that we launched a couple of years ago which has achieved eight hundred thousand downloads in Australia and New Zealand.
Peter: Wow, so that’s your app, that’s your mobile app.
Christophe: Definitely, yes. And that’s another possibility to have a beauty advisor in your pocket. The idea of this application was to make a form of service available to everyone on your mobile with the possibility to get advice on what are the new makeup trends and how they fit with me, offering a virtual trial within the application and then offering how to videos to achieve those specific looks and ultimately, closing the look with a purchase as we have a click to buy going out to Priceline and you can buy either the individual product or the whole look at once. If you are in the store environments, you also have the option to scan the barcode of the products to immediately virtually try those products on. So the app is leveraging augmented reality and the way it works is that when you are facing your screen the app would identify 64 different points on your face. And as you move around looking at your mobile as if it was a mirror it will keep positioning the makeup in the right spots and really give this amazing experience showing you how you would look like if you were to really try one of these products in a virtual way.
Susan: I tried it the other day and I thought it was fantastic. I was playing for myself and I think it’s an amazing app.
Peter: So, you liked the cats-eye look?
Susan: I did like the cats-eye look.
Peter: And what colour lipstick suited you, Susan?
Susan: Oh, I think the purple. It was fantastic. I can see why you had hundreds of thousands of downloads. So how do you think the app is going to change the way you do business and have your retail partners been supportive of the app? How do you feel that they see the app helping their sales?
Christophe: The app is becoming an example of how we can have a fully comprehensive experience from the actual product discovery to the virtual trial to learning about the how to’s and actual purchases. It’s been very well received by both consumers and our clients or the retailers and in particular by Priceline, so it’s a possibility for their own customers create a better experience by linking the experience in-store to the actual purchase within the app. We have a very strong partnership with Priceline but in the future, you can imagine that potentially the shopping experience will expand to other retailers. But at this stage we are really focusing on Priceline.
Susan: That’s interesting. I want to ask you as I mentioned I buy my L’Oréal products from Priceline. It’s something I was thinking about when we’re going to interview Christophe. As one of the customers of Priceline I receive their e-mails and coupons and if I spent enough money I have a 5 or 15 dollars discount. I’ve never received or never been asked by L’Oréal at any of my touch points to give you my e-mail address so I’d be interested to know how do you see e-mail marketing in all the different activities you are currently working on?
Christophe: So you’re absolutely right. Traditionally L’Oréal is a B2B, so business to business player, where we primarily manufacture and market products that we sell to retailers and they would then sell to the end users. We are trying to build a closer relationship with end users which is not necessarily what we’ve done historically speaking so this is fairly new territory for us but the possibility there is by having a more direct relationship with consumers to have a better understanding of what are their needs and better communicate with them on beauty education in particular. So, we have embarked on this journey to build our CRM platform so around two years ago we started the partnership with Salesforce in Australia. And today we have achieved to build one customer database across our brands in the country and we start to have a more engaging and then personalised communication with users and the way we capture data is very, very open. And it’s primarily through the brand websites when consumers proactively join the database and ask to receive more information from the brands. So, there’s a vary form of incentivisation. It is primarily based on consumers of proactivity who want to be informed which creates a very loyal and truthfully connected consumer base for our selling program and today we have close to one million consumers in these markets who are part part of our databases across the different brands. So that’s a very significant number of consumers trying to get it on a regular basis.
Peter: You have a million opted in e-mail addresses for customers in Australia?
Christophe: Correct. Yes.
Peter: That is awesome and just one more thing. You’ve been able to segment who those customers are and what they purchase and what their interests are or is it just e-mail addresses, names and postcodes.
Christophe: The goal is really to deliver a personalised communication over time. And so we are segmenting the different databases over time. And as you can imagine it is a journey that you have to take.
Peter: The customer journey.
Christophe: Exactly. And we are progressing well. But there’s still lots of work to do in that space.
Peter: A million opted in e-mails is a pretty damn good foundation. I must say to start with.
Susan: I think so. I guess from my point of view someone who hasn’t visited L’Oréal’s website and hasn’t signed up but I obviously buy the product so would you be looking at maybe on pack promotions to entice customers like myself? I’m sure there’s not just myself but many others who may not have visited the site but still buy your product so would you look to capture by email through product pack promotions for example?
Christophe: The first priority was to build the infrastructure. And then over time we’ll move into different ways of acquiring new people to the database and then having a more engaging and more personalised form of communication as well.
Peter: OK. And in our very first podcast we spoke to Tony Karras who’s the Marketing Director of Weight Watchers. Like L’Oréal it has been around for several decades and built their business on face to face engagement with people who are interested in losing weight. Your business has obviously had that face to face interaction with beauty consultants primarily in department stores and other shops and stores like that. Do you see digital complementing or over time replacing that personal touch?
Christophe: It is definitely complementing and not necessarily replacing. I will give you an example that brings it to life in a very good way. We launched a test for Lancôme in the US to customise foundations for our consumers in department stores and the concept is called “Le teint particulier” which in French basically means your own personalised foundation products and the way it works is at the counter, the consumers go through a consultation with a beauty advisor and then the foundation is actually made in store using digital technology to deliver it on the spot. It was quite successful in the US and we are now rolling it out in the UK and Canada. That’s a beauty service which is likely to come in the future in our region as well. So, to me that’s a perfect example of how you combine the digital experience and the touch points with our experts and the beauty advisors at the point of sale.
Peter: And leading on from that point of sale, I have read that you use iBeacons in many retailers.
Christophe: It’s probably still a testing ground for us. We have been considering that technology for a little while and the opportunity will maximize itself when we find the right context with the right retailers to make it happen.
Susan: I believe Westfield and Scentre group have implemented iBeacon technology in their centres already.
Christophe: So that could be a good opportunity to partner and test.
Susan: I think so.
Susan: I think so. So with the fact you have 4,500 products how do you actually decide which one to focus your marketing efforts on? Is it by sales or market share or some other measure?
Christophe: For the 4,500 different products that we focus on to really prioritise we look at the consumer first. It’s about what consumers are looking for. This will be what determines the prioritisation. We have a big intelligence unit around so we can see what are the beauty trends and our consumer insights department will gather insights from traditional research but we also have a big focus on all social listening on trends rising out of search as we work very closely with Google and Facebook to capture those trends. Then it’s looking at our competition to define what would be the priorities because competition can drive a certain direction for the market as well. Innovation from laboratories can drive the prioritisation of the product planning and retailers can also definitely influence the prioritisation of the product planning depending on what they want to achieve for their constant consumers in terms of consumer experience or complementarity with the rest of their retail portfolio. We have a department called category management team that works very closely with the retailers to define those strategies. And then of course the profitability of the products is a key element to prioritise.
Peter: And I know this is going to be quite a big question but what does success look like from a digital point of view for L’Oréal. How are your efforts measured and how is that success focused on from within the organisation?
Christophe: So we have a long list of KPIs and…
Peter: Lucky you Christophe.
Christophe: Just to keep it interesting and number focused. We work very closely with external partners such as our media agency Carat. We have an independent auditing company called Ubiquity. So we work with lots of different excellent partners to try to assess what is success in their marketing environments. Ultimately it all goes back to how many sales we drive but also an even bigger and bigger mission is to build love brands and that’s our ultimate ambition to deliver beauty for all and to have love brands and relationships with customers and customers who love engaging with our brands. How do we measure the love aspect? We type a lot into social media metrics such as self mentions of the brands, the sentiments behind those mentions and then the impact that it has on our ecosystems in terms of site visits time spent on the sites etc.
Peter: OK. So talking about love brands that opens up a whole range of thoughts obviously. But what is your ideal customer experience and you may be there or you may be working towards there and obviously I know that’s a combination of real world and digital but what is a L’Oréal customer’s ideal experience?
Christophe: So potentially to bring it back to the example put on Urban Decay and the launch of their new palettes earlier this week with MECCA as an online exclusive. To me that’s a good example to illustrate what success can look like to be an effective digital strategy and MECCA basically built a platform that is personalised. So when you visit the website depending on what you’ve done before you would see different kind of content so acknowledging the user for who they are and personalising the experience in the shopping environments to me is definitely best practice. And then the strength of their loyalty program was key to achieve the success of the launch of the urban decay palette. That new product launch was available first for tier one of their customers. So it’s rewarding loyal customers with the possibility to purchase first and in an environment where we know that the expense will be the best. So that’s a good example on best practice currently in the beauty industry I would say.
Susan: Obviously with digital you’ve had years of experience in the digital arena. So looking across companies and organisations, which organisations do you think do digital most effectively and why?
Christophe: I will say that you have a broad range of players who are doing quite well in that space. The opportunity for us in the past five years has been to change our perception. It’s only for the past two or three years that we made it to the top 50 of most innovative companies as measured by PWC globally. And we made that.
And so we made it to the ranking particularly through the launch of the make up genius application but also through the broader focus on digital activation we launch the UV patch which is a patch you wear on your skin and that would help you to measure your exposure to UV radiation to prompt you to apply skin protection and suncare. We launched also a brochure at the last innovation summit in Las Vegas for Kerastase which has a radio sensor that sends information to your mobile about the health of your hair and provide advice on which type of hair care to use to protect your hair. We’ve also launched digital experiences in the retail environment for our brand Metrics where when you go to the salon you can virtually try on new hairstyles which is often the main barrier to try new colours when you cannot see how you would look like first. So it’s basically providing a tool which addresses to remove that kind of anxiety from consumers to try new colours. So there’s a whole range of innovation that has been deployed and that has been contributing to the fact that now L’Oréal is a very innovative company in the world and being part of the top 50 put us next to the likes of Apple and Google or Nike and other players which in the past where traditionally more antisocially to innovation. So for us it’s a great recognition of the efforts made to change the game and be part of that. And yet we’re one of innovative companies in the world.
Susan: So would you suggest that those are the companies that you see doing digital well, the Apples and the Googles of this world? Is that really your aspiration to be as good as those on top of those?
Christophe: In terms of consumer centricity. Definitely.
Susan: And one other question I want to ask you which I think would probably intrigue a lot of corporate marketers because I know that many companies now are using apps for various areas of their business. How long did it take you to develop the make up genius app, was it shorter than expected – I imagine longer than expected – and how expensive was it?
Christophe: So it’s a very interesting question because practically it requires a strong internal focus first and to give you the full background, basically every year in the US there’s a competition open to any team to participate to bring some new ideas and around three, four years ago a team had the idea of creating a virtual neurone. This challenge was passed on to what we called a digital beauty incubator which is a team to focus on innovation based in New York as well. They looked at different technologies to bring this idea to life. After doing some research they realised that we required external partnership to make it happen and we ended up collaborating with Image Metrics which is a company that’s powered the technology for the Benjamin Button movie with Brad Pitt where he is getting older and younger. So playing in the moving image environments where you have a true leverage of augmented reality and making it very very very real. As you know there’s a few other apps available that don’t actually give you a great experience. What is an amazing success with make up genius is that you really feel that you are looking at yourself in the mirror and the make up feels really real on you. So the app also had to factor in different type of skin so there’s more than 200 different skin types that we’re factoring into the app to give this true real experience feeling. But the key learning of that is it took a bit of time of course to develop but the key reason for success was the internal collaboration being humbled about it as well and collaborating with external experts to bring it to life. So being capable of at partnering and seeking for external expertise to make it happen and then in terms of roll out L’Oréal is very good as a product launch machine and we’ve applied the same principles to roll out make up genius which was launched as a brand new product as a part of L’Oréal Paris’ portfolio and this happened at the Cannes Film Festival which is a key time of the year when we have all our brand ambassadors from around the world coming to Cannes and having them playing with the app at around 2, 3 years ago was a great platform to launch and then roll out in all the different countries.
Peter: Well you can’t accuse L’Oréal of thinking small, that’s for sure. Obviously, anyone who hasn’t tried the make up genius should, I have as well. I’m not ashamed to admit it and it is quite extraordinary it’s one of the most amazing commercial or brand focused apps that I have ever seen in my life which is incredible.
Susan: It’s entertaining as well. That’s what I love about it.
Peter: That’s right, it’s engaging and entertaining and I guess it helps that there’s such an emotional connection with the brand and the product that some brands may not have that and definitely won’t have that. But it’s just incredible that you’ve had the initiative and the commitment to do that. Christoph one of the last we’re getting towards the end of this fascinating conversation. But one of the things that we hear a lot lately is that customer experience is going to be more important than price by 2022. I don’t know who said that but it’s like it’s something that comes through quite a bit in the conversations we have on a regular basis. Have you found with all the many digital initiatives that L’Oréal has undertaken and is undertaking the price is becoming less important?
Christophe: Definitely, and that’s to the core of the L’Oréal business. If you go back to the 70s when we had the launch of our brands for ‘L’Oréal Paris. Because I’m worth it’. It’s really going back to that’s a concept that consumers would be ready to pay a slight premium when they have the best quality products and when you can access a technology that makes a true change in their beauty results. So we definitely believe that price matters but what matters the most is the experience for the consumers and the result that they can achieve with the product that we are distributing.
Peter: Well, that’s fantastic news for brand marketers who are always trying to justify the premium of why choose their branded products as opposed to cheaper alternatives. So Christophe where do you see that digital marketing will be in five years? I realise five years is a long time in the future but a lot of organisations like L’Oréal have been around for many many decades so five years in that context is not long. So do you have any predictions?
Christophe: It goes very fast indeed. Our big focus and I would say when we see the evolution of the technology and media landscape, virtual reality and augmented reality will continue being a big focus for us. And when you think about what’s going to change it would be primarily driven in that space as the key publishers such as Google and Facebook start rolling out this technology at mass. So if you can start to communicate and have augmented reality and experiences within those mass scale and communication network then you create a fantastic opportunity for consumer engagement and beauty education.
Peter: OK. And final question – we ask this all of our guests – and just for people who are listening to this as you have succeeded so much in digital as has your organisation, what are the top three tips you would give to other marketers who are also keen to succeed in digital?
Christophe: That’s an interesting question to answer. I would say that passion is the number one driver to be always focused on what are the new trends, how consumers are involved in the marketplace and how can we better connect with them and provide more engaging experiences has always been my number one focus. And the second part is a reinvention. Always reinvent how we think and follow the trends and a certain amount is simplicity. Simplicity is key to make it happen. Often the danger in your marketing landscape is that we have a language that is too complicated to be understood not just by consumers or customers like retailers but also internally when we need to drive the agenda with a broader team of stakeholders so simplifying our message and that ambition making it very concrete for the business is absolutely key to achieve the end goal. So in summary, passion, reinvention and simplicity.
Susan: Would you use those three words for yourself as well, Christophe, in terms of your career highlights I guess success?
Christophe: Yes, to some extent. I have been lucky enough to follow my passion for discovering the world and live in my home country and settle in in Australia and becoming Australian and being very proud of that. There’s an element of passion and reinvention into that and I feel that I have achieved the lifestyle here. Maybe links back to simplicity in terms of being very happy in the environment that I live in and having reinvented my life but in a way that is really true to my personality and that’s what I feel is the simplicity of the situation.
Peter: Well Christophe, you’ve achieved a record! This is the longest interview we’ve ever recorded on the corporate digital marketing podcast. We’ve talked for 46 and a half minutes. We could probably go for another two hours there’s so much to talk about.
Christophe: Thank you so much for the opportunity.
Peter: So Christophe Eymery thank you very much for joining us on the podcast and I’m sure there are many, many lessons that anyone who listens to this will take away from it. And look there are many things that L’Oréal is doing, that you have done personally from a corporate point of view that people can learn from. So, thank you for what you’ve given us.
Christophe: My pleasure. Thanks to you.
Peter: Draw a breath, ladies and gentlemen. That was quite an incredible discussion with Christophe as we said at the top of the podcast. There’s a hell of a lot to talk about when it comes to L’Oréal. There are many organisations of the same size if not bigger that have not done anything as much as L’Oréal has done. You could argue that being in the beauty industry there is a much greater emotional engagement with their brands than with others. And you would be right to a degree. But as we’ve heard it also comes down to will and I would like to thank Susan Werkner, our wonderful director of digital strategy who is very much an important part of this because she knows things about the beauty industry that I will never know. So what are your thoughts Susan?
Susan: Well I thought Christophe was fantastic. I mean he’s certainly in the right position in the right job in the right company. His passion I think was very obvious throughout the interview. But really what I thought was fascinating was they’re an incredibly large organisation and yet from what we’ve learned from the chat with Christophe that they do have different brands and different divisions and those brands will have a healthy as he mentioned healthy competition between them to try and increase their share of sales and customers. So I guess one can think about the fact that the culture within L’Oréal must be quite entrepreneurial to allow them to have so many digital activities so many different digital products or products I should say and brands that compete with each other and yet they still have to maintain the excitement and continually launch new brands for different channels. I think that’s what was also very interesting that they really have a multi-channel multi-brand focus for such a large organisation in the beauty industry.
Peter: And digital is at the heart of everything they do now not just because it’s a channel it’s because of what digital can bring to the organisation. And I think that’s critical to anyone’s thinking when it comes to planning what they’re doing. It’s not just as we often have said on this podcast it’s not just about doing an app it’s not just about doing an e-mail or a website. It really is incorporating into your toolkit your competitive toolkit as to how you’re going to better engage with your customers and consumers, trade partners et cetera et cetera and really get to help and really focus on how are these channels strategies and platforms going to help me to achieve my sales marketing and commercial objectives.
Susan: No I loved it. I love the fact that he has really shown that organisations can see digital as an opportunity. It is a huge opportunity and they’re certainly embracing it whereas a lot of companies even now a lot of industry still they still see it as a threat rather than an opportunity. And I think that’s a shame. I think it shows that companies do need to embrace the Internet and understand that they have to actually wade out into that water. Social media included I think a lot of companies still are shy of social media. I love the fact Christophe said they monitor their social media so closely dovetail that with Web site traffic so they can see what consumers are doing where are they coming from how are brands being affected by the digital strategies that they’re using.
Peter: One of the key advantages that I took from Christophe’s discussion is that digital is helping price to become less of an issue. What a huge opportunity an advantage that would be for any branded marketer. So I think that in and of itself what they say if you can take just one good idea from a book, a podcasts or a conference it’s worth the time that you’ve invested. I think that in and of itself is a wonderful way of looking at things. And so rather than saying Oh they’ve got this and they’ve got all this access because in the beauty industry it’s got this it’s much more emotional engaging. That is true depending on what you’re marketing. But if you can look at it as a way to take price not out of the equation but certainly make it less important and much more important because you have to engage your customer more effectively. You’ve done a good job as a marketer. So, Susan thank you.
Susan: You’re welcome, Peter. That was a fascinating discussion. I was very pleased to be part of it. Thank you.
Peter: And you brought the feminine touch which was critically important in this case because we were talking about the beauty industry, if I can say that. So, thank you very much for listening to this episode of The Corporate Digital Marketing Podcast and we will speak to you very soon.