How L’Oréal builds genuine connections with beauty shoppers

Marie Gulin-Merle

We’re at a tipping point for digital marketing. Our tools keep getting better: more precise, more focused, more powerful. New channels and formats pop up on a regular basis, bringing us closer to consumers than ever before.

But our audience has become more sophisticated, too. Today’s consumers have control over how, when and where to shop. They have information at their fingertips and easy access to product reviews. Plus, they’re fickle. They’re less brand loyal, and quick to dismiss content that feels pushy or irrelevant. 

These dynamics create both trying challenges and vast opportunities. At L’Oréal, we’re always seeking new ways to build genuine connections with beauty shoppers. We can build for one-to-one moments, where we’re communicating directly with consumers and giving them personal, inspiring content. 

Here are some of the ways we build genuine, story-driven connections with our audience: 

Make your storytelling unique

Research shows that people are much more likely to remember stories than facts.1 We ground our marketing in stories that speak to our consumers’ needs and values. It’s not about what we as a brand want to say: it’s about what the consumer, as a shopper, needs to hear. We map her shopping process so we understand how she thinks about beauty decisions and what information she needs along the way.

Segment content throughout the journey

We plan campaigns that can take someone from browsing to buying in an authentic way. That means content that’s segmented against the consumer journey, and mapped to the channels people use for each part of the process. 

We often use video to introduce new products since it allows for immersive storytelling. We were the first beauty brand to adopt Pinterest’s Promoted Video with autoplay, using it to launch L'Oréal Paris Air Dry It. Autoplay helped us create a strong first impression and broad product awareness. To drive further product awareness, we provide engaging, fun tutorials that help her envision the product in her life. Finally, we retarget people who already interacted with our content. At that point, it is about conversion, so we focus on specific product benefits.

Focus on high-quality creative

We see high quality creative as one of our target levers for increasing engagement and sales. The average consumer sees more than 350 ads in a day—and we want to be the brand that makes her thumbs stop mid-scroll.2 Our goal is to master every medium we work with and design custom content.

Our recent Pinterest campaign for essie’s “Wild Nudes” line is a great example. essie is the top saved nail brand on Pinterest, so we’ve been familiar with the platform for a while. To launch the Wild Nudes line, we worked with Pinterest to find the right insights for effective lifestyle creative. Two stats stood out: nude nails were up nearly 9x on Pinterest year over year, and an essie color was actually the most popular shade.

From there, we worked with a content creator from the Pin Collective to develop beautiful, bespoke content. That investment paid off. People saved the Pins at double and triple our usual rates. That means our ads captured her attention so much, she saved the content for later to refer to it again.

“We see high quality creative as one of our target levers for increasing engagement and sales. ”
Marie Gulin-Merle
CMO, L’Oréal USA
Embrace visual technology

Technology is speeding up how we handle decisions, from merchandising to branding. These days, we can collect consumer feedback on concepts modeled in virtual reality—and trim weeks off our usual processes. At our US headquarters in New York, we have a virtual reality room where merchandising and marketing departments can simulate a real-store setting. The technology offers brands and retail partners a better way to understand how consumers interact with products in real life, drastically speeding the time it takes to bring new displays and designs to stores.

We apply this same tech-forward approach to marketing and love experimenting with new formats. Right now, we’re especially excited about visual technology, both on Pinterest and elsewhere. Visual technology is helping us merge digital tools with more traditional shopping behaviors. Images and visual cues guide people to relevant, inspiring content—much like when they're shopping in a store.

Today, we’re mostly using visual tech to guide her along as she shops. But in the future, we’re hoping to use visual technology to improve our content sequencing, too. Tools that analyze image characteristics (like hair or makeup styles) can help us determine which content or products to show next.

Make every moment shoppable

Since our audience increasingly uses mobile devices for research and purchasing, we’re mobile-first too. Shoppers pivot between awareness and buying without even thinking about it. All of the moments where they encounter our brand need to be shoppable, even during discovery. On Pinterest, we often use Buyable Pins, so she can shop directly on the platform for brands like Urban Decay and NYX Professional Makeup.

To make sure we’re top of mind, we’re always on with search ads on platforms like Pinterest. That guarantees that we show up when she’s thinking about our category. No matter the mindset she’s in when she starts to browse, she can make the moment shoppable.

We’re committed to creating relevant, inspiring content that truly helps our consumers. As marketing continues to evolve, we’ll keep adopting the tools and practices that help us tell the strongest stories. Our success depends on it.

—Marie Gulin-Merle, CMO at L'Oréal USA, currently saving to For the Home

Jennifer Aaker, Professor of Marketing at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, "Harnessing the Power of Stories," 2014

2 Media Dynamics, Inc., "America’s Media Usage & Ad Exposure, 1945-2014," 2014