How beauty tech sits pretty at the core of L’Oréal's brand action

L’Oréal India Chief Digital Officer Anil Chilla elaborates on the beauty brand’s heightened focus on technology and digital aspects in the new-age beauty business

e4m by Mansi Sharma
Published: Jul 6, 2021 8:10 AM  | 4 min read

The pandemic hasn’t been easy on any industry. An unprecedented calamity for modern times, Covid-19 made its menacing presence felt on the balance sheets of all the businesses, creating a challenging atmosphere to work in. For the beauty industry, which largely depends on the touch-and-feel of products and trial stories, it was a unique challenge to maintain the customers and also acquiring new ones.

As per estimates, the industry slipped by 8 per cent in 2020, the first-ever slump in its recorded history. However, the contented first-ever cosmetics group worldwide, L’Oréal used this moment in history as an opportunity to push forwards its digitisation plans and curated a unique experience for its customers.

Speaking about their heightened digitisation efforts here, L’Oréal India Chief Digital Officer Anil Chilla shared, “The pandemic has undoubtedly led to changes and, in some areas, acceleration of existing trends in the consumer behaviour within the beauty category. There is a heightened concern for health and safety. Online purchasing habits are evolving, presenting new opportunities for brands.”

L’Oréal India Chief Digital Officer Anil Chilla

He elaborated that people are increasingly getting interested in self-care and DIY solutions for hair colouring etc.

“Our brands have moved to address this trend effectively by educating them on DIY and enabling them to pick the best care solutions digitally. Using digital channels and online training to guide consumers in their DIY journey. We have hosted numerous live streaming sessions with our brand experts as well as influencers to interact with consumers and help educate them on DIY hair colouration, eye makeup trends, makeup for video-conferences etc.”

But the buck doesn’t stop at DIY. People are still conscious about how they look and won’t deny expert guidance on several matters. That pushed the brand to build a new social commerce model for its salon partners, driving retail business to more than 20K salons and training over 80K hairdressers in the process.

All this truly evolved L’Oréal into a beauty tech company, which is expanding on the back of the digital revolution within all its domains.

Chill noted, “We use digital extensively both in the upper funnel and the lower funnel. In the upper funnel, we use a combination of video, display, search, brand websites and partnerships with influencers to build awareness of our brands. In the lower funnel, we use a variety of media vehicles and content incl. search, geographic targeting, with influencer content and tools provided by e-commerce platforms for driving conversion and purchase.”
From online consultations to using modern technologies for skin diagnostics and virtual try-on to bringing new products to market or purchase through voice technology, the brand is creating a bespoke and fully integrated physical and digital experience, based on customer expectations.

Chilla elaborated, “As a digital-first organisation, we use digital tools extensively throughout the organization. Our research and innovation teams use social listening and online review analysis tools to understand the emerging ingredient trends and feedback on existing products in the market.

“For digital asset management, we have recently implemented a Product information management (PIM) and digital asset management (DAM) solution. This has enabled our teams to be more agile in meeting the requirements of marketing and e-commerce partners.”

All this is partnered with the expertise of ModiFace – an augmented reality company it acquired in 2018 – to offer virtual try-on for make-up and hair colour and one-on-one beauty consultations via video chat; which has provided a compelling proposition especially during the lockdown with stores closed.

“Trying-on the product virtually also removes the friction from the physical environment of access to multiple shades, removal after every trial, safety & cleanliness, which are important in the current COVID context etc. After the pandemic hit us, we removed all physical testers from the stores. Now we have built QR codes mapped to the SKUs that allow a consumer to scan the QR code & virtually try on the product right then & there. This allows for an enhanced consumer experience, without compromising safety,” Chilla explained.

Going ahead, Chilla is quite positive that digital-led beauty companies are going to have an edge over the competition. However, more than that a tight grasp on the consumer needs is going to define the winners.

He concluded by saying, “At the end of the day, the truth still remains, for brands to win, they need to closely listen to the consumers and cater to their evolving needs.”

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