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L’Oréal USA’s CMO Highlights Company’s New Digital Purchase Path

“Health and beauty represent the new digital battleground,” according to Marc Speichert, CMO at L’Oréal USA.  He noted that as beauty purchases are shifting from in-store to digital, this has prompted the company to follow a “new consumer decision journey.”

Speichert spoke in New York on Monday at the Brite ’12 conference hosted by Columbia Business School’s Center on Global Brand Leadership. The two-day event focused on innovation, brands, and technology.

L’Oréal, a global cosmetics company with a portfolio of twenty-three brands across professional, consumer, and luxury products, has seventy million U.S. customers. As Speichert noted, “business innovation is a key growth engine.” The topic of how digital has changed existing marcoms models, including the brand purchase funnel, has been widely covered. Now more companies have moved from theory to practice, and Speichert elaborated on each phase of L’Oréal USA’s process and gave examples.

Consideration: This phase provides the occasion to inform consumers about the product category. L’Oréal partnered with YouTube to launch the Destination Beauty channel on YouTube.

Speichert cited a case study of DermaBlend, L’Oréal’s professional skincare brand that covers up medical scars. The brand has a loyal customer base but a more limited ad budget. The company partnered with Zombie Boy, whose body is covered head-to-toe with tattoos. They created a YouTube video as an extreme case to demonstrate the product’s efficacy. That video is attached above.

Evaluation: This is an important phase since so many consumers do evaluation research before they buy. Speichert said L’Oréal found thirty to fifty percent of cosmetics customers do so. He also pointed out that online search queries now are more specific and sophisticated, such as “How to fake a vacation glow.” However he noted that not enough relevant information currently exists. In response, L’Oréal partnered with Demand Media to create cosmetics-related “how to” content.

Buy: The dynamics and location of the purchase phase have changed from in-store to digital and beyond. L’Oréal took out-of-the-store shopping one step further during New York’s Fashion Week in February. For its Lancome and Saint Laurent beauté brands, they partnered with Glamour magazine and created videos where their more exclusive customer segments could buy on the spot. The videos were shown in fifty specially equipped taxis that transported attendees to and from Lincoln Center, the event venue.

Advocacy: This phase involves monitoring and connecting to customers via social media. Speichert said L’Oréal is focused on listening to its customers and creating forums where they can interact, such as the platform they created for their salon products. He explained that this forms the final chain in the cycle for L’Oréal, and the peer-to-peer bonding leads to an ongoing loyalty loop that generates future purchases.

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