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WWD Digital Forum: L’Oréal and the Savvy Customer

Marc Speichert, U.S. chief marketing officer, discussed the new consumer decision cycle and identifying innovative digital initiatives.

“How do we find white spaces? How do we break through and how do we leverage digital to drive consideration in a new way?” asked Marc Speichert, L’Oréal USA’s chief marketing officer, about the ever-evolving digital beauty marketplace.

Speichert, who oversees L’Oréal USA’s four divisions, including consumer, luxury and professional products, as well as active cosmetics, discussed the new consumer decision cycle and his focus on identifying innovative digital initiatives for L’Oréal’s 23 brands.

Speichert said that “2010 has been declared the year of digital by our ceo, Jean-Paul Agon. [This has] really mobilized our entire organization to bring digital to a whole new level.”

Charged also with the tasks of creating synergy among L’Oréal’s cross-category divisions and stimulating innovation on multiple levels, Speichert said that while in the past the shopping process was mostly a linear one, the new model involves an educated, discerning consumer who is evaluating products online many times before purchasing them.

“[It’s a] much more circular more complex process,” but also one that’s exciting and lets us talk to consumers in a very different way,” said Speichert.

While Speichert said that L’Oréal still relies on traditional push advertising for many of its brands, a rich, contextually relevant and consumer-specific digital presence is essential.

“The sophistication level that consumers have in terms of research of content is getting greater and greater,” said Speichert. “Instead of creating one video that will generate a million views, how do we create thousands of videos that will answer those very specific content needs?”

To that end, Speichert identified L’Oréal’s recent partnership with Demand Media, a company that monitors consumer behavior and matches it with relevant content, as one of the beauty company’s biggest investments to date from a digital perspective. He also named 23-year-old beauty blogger Michelle Phan as a “virtual beauty adviser” who has reached millions of women through her how-to videos.

“She’s inspiring consumers to try new looks and doing it with our brands,” said Speichert.

He also cited L’Oréal’s recent collaboration with Telemundo Communications Group as a way the company has been reaching potential Hispanic consumers. Billed as the first official club for Telemundo’s loyal telenovela fan base, Club De Noveleras is sponsored by L’Oréal brands like Maybelline and Garnier. The “first Hispanic beauty blogger” will also have space on the site, said Speichert.

“This is the beginning of a journey that is going to be very transformational for us,” he said. “We need to reinvent ourselves and be very visionary in terms of where we think beauty will be going.”