L'Oreal Sets its Sights on the Modern Shopper with Augmented Reality, Unified Brands

The cosmetic company's head of digital for L'Oreal Australia and New Zealand discusses the company's customer engagement road map.
Customer Experience

Sustaining customer loyalty in the beauty and cosmetics industry isn't pretty; it's a constant challenge. Given the growing competition, voluminous number of products, and array of prices, marketers must find innovative ways to engage today's empowered and tech-savvy shoppers.

Christophe Eymery knows firsthand the intricacies of marketing to today's beauty obsessed consumers. As the head of digital for L'Oreal Australia and New Zealand, he oversees digital development for a portfolio of 27 brands. 1to1 Media recently sat down with Eymery to discuss the company's strategy for interacting with mobile-first consumers and the challenge of coordinating operations and customer experiences across a huge mix of brands and products.

1to1 Media: What is the mobile landscape like in Australia?
Christophe Eymery: Mobile marketing in Australia is on par with the U.S. About 80 percent of the population are smartphone users and iOS dominates the market. In terms of web traffic, more than half of the traffic we [L'Oreal Australia] see on our websites comes from from mobile. App usage is also high.

How do you personalize your interactions with your customers?
When we run a campaign, our target audience is mostly women ages 18 to 45. Our products appeal to a wide audience but we need to help our customers navigate our many products. Maybelline alone has more than 600 products. We have a mobile app, Makeup Genius, which helps consumers find the right products for themselves using augmented reality.

We launched the app a year ago in the U.S. We're up to 1.5 million downloads in the U.S., half a million downloads in Australia, and globally it's getting close to 12 million downloads. The app scans your face and identifies features like your nose, lips, and eyes. The idea is to show you what products look like on your face so if you scan the barcode of a lipstick, the app will provide an overlay that's matched to your lips. We also show you the products celebrities used on the red carpet so you can recreate that look.

How does the user buy the suggested products?
CE: Let's assume you want a lipstick. You tap "buy here" on the app and it links you to a retailer like Walmart or Amazon. The app also has how-to videos to show you how to best use the makeup. Makeup Genius gives you a reason to engage with our brands by helping you navigate the many products we offer.

What type of user data does the app provide?
CE: We know what products people are experimenting with, which ones they're buying, and the app usage frequency. We're also looking at activating the SDK for iBeacon within the app to retarget users. For example, let's say you tried a certain look with the app while you were in the store. So, the next time you're in the store, we might send a prompt to try another look. The SDK will also link data from the Makeup Genius app to our Salesforce platform and Salesforce can handle the various points of the customer journey.

How do you connect your brands to provide a consistent experience?
CE: Connecting our many brands has been a journey that we're still working on. For instance, it took some convincing but all our brands [in Australia and the U.S.] are now using Salesforce.com's [Marketing Cloud] platform. This lets us do upselling across multiple brands. For example, a customer may use a Clarisonic cleanser and we can also tell her about a toner from Lancome that complements it. The challenge is engaging customers who are multibrand buyers with a connected strategy, which is not something we're used to doing.

Which Salesforce tools are you using?
We [L'Oreal Australia] are using Salesforce's Journey Builder and its social listening tool Radian6. We're also interested in using Active Audiences to link our CRM data to our social media channels and target the audiences that are already interested in L'Oreal.

What are your thoughts on Google's and Pinterest's buy buttons?
CE: Anything that shortens the path from exposure to the actual purchase is a good thing. As a consumer, I'd love to jump straight to making a purchase within the ad and make my experience faster. Actually, I got an email last night asking if we could look at Pinterest for next year. The answer is yes, but in the past, we had to focus on managing Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter before any other social media networks [like Pinterest]. But now we're seen as one of Facebook and Instagram's strongest partners in Australia so that gives us the confidence to divert our focus to other social media sites.