L’Oreal’s CMO on how it is evolving its marketing strategy through consumer insight

L’Oreal is expanding its insights team in an effort to “embrace new technologies, consumer behaviours and trends” as it readies awareness campaigns for its Garnier Nutrisse and Essie brands.

L’Oreal UK, whose wide portfolio includes the likes of L’Oreal Paris, La Roche Posay, Essie, Maybelline and Urban Decay, is looking to better understand its fashion and beauty consumers as part of a new strategy which involves “looking external to drive internal change”, according to the company.

Hugh Pile, who joined the company as CMO nearly nine months ago, told Marketing Week: “We want to be inspired by the world out there, whether its technologies, new consumer behaviours, trends and new partnerships, and then use that to drive internal change to make sure we’re absolutely the forefront of where we need to be as a business.”

Pile says the company is bringing in data analysts in hopes of getting them to become “a strategic part of the business”.

He also says L’Oreal is looking to partner with new technologies, including a neuroscience company, which will allow the company’s insights team to measure the brain’s response to a piece of creative through electromagnetic pulse caps.

“What this allows us to do is understand the essence to driving great creativity,” Pile says. “That will ultimately be the thing that separates us from our competition.”

Increasing influencer partnerships

Pile says that the company has a wide range of consumers who each require a different approach, something it is trying to target through partnerships such as its tie with Helen Mirren for its L’Oreal Age Perfect brand, who Pile says reached “all consumers”.

“It’s not about targeting ages,” he says. “You target what your brand stands for. As long as you can tightly define your essence and the aspiration you share with your consumer, I actually think age is but a number.”

The company is also working with influencers such as vloggers and bloggers, who add credibility to a brand and allow the company to identify and capitalise on trends, according to Pile.

“The more excitement you get from user-generated content, independent bloggers and vloggers, it just drives engagement, consideration and ultimately purchase, which exactly what we’re in the business for,” he says, adding that the company is also looking to partner with content providers, publishers and journalists in an effort to “feed the hunger for innovation and beauty on this constant 24/7 rotation”.

Engaging consumers through digital and personalisation

makeup geniusIn an effort to engage its wide-ranging consumers, Pile says the company will also increase personalisation offers to consumers to create a “dialogue and not a monologue” through a live chat in its customer care division.

This will also be through the likes of its upcoming Garnier Nutrisse campaign in the second half of 2015 which Pile says will involve a “hair colour advisory service” to help consumers engage with the brand.

In January, the company also launched its L’Oreal Paris Makeup Genius app, which allows consumers to virtually apply makeup using augmented reality.

The moves are part of what Pile calls a “more efficient and effective marketing model” moving from traditional channels to start embracing “the way the consumer moves”.

“It’s not ‘we need to start spending on digital’, but how to digitise your existing offering, because TV, outdoor and print are becoming more digital,” he adds.

“With new technology growth we can be even smarter with our advertising. With things like programmatic and precision advertising, you can really identify people that are right for a particular brand and still reach them at scale.”

Spreading awareness to lesser-known brands

While the company will use its new strategy to continue to promote its popular brands such as L’Oreal Paris and Maybelline, it is also readying campaigns to drive awareness of some of its lesser-known products.

Later this year, it will launch a campaign in order to drive more people to try its La Roche Posay skincare brand. It will also kick off a campaign for its Essie nail polish line, which has low awareness according to Pile.

“It’s a loved brand, but our challenge is how do we explode engagement behind it,” he says.

However, he adds that working in beauty is “like pushing a rock down a hill”.

“The reason I love working in beauty is our consumers are so passionate about this category,” Pile says.

“There’s no effort behind this. It’s an amazingly fertile territory if we can bring the right creativity to it.”

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