DUBAI: The coronavirus pandemic noticed brick-and-mortar shops drop their shutters and pivot to on-line channels. Though on-line gross sales in some classes had been sluggish, customers had been fast to undertake resulting from a scarcity of in-store choices in the course of the COVID-19 lockdown. However the e-commerce pattern continued whilst restrictions had been lifted owing to the comfort and fast supply occasions.
The worldwide magnificence business, which generates SR1.9 trillion ($500 billion) in annual gross sales, noticed a weak first quarter in 2020 with widespread retailer closures, based on a 2020 report by McKinsey & Firm. From producing hand sanitizers to introducing modern methods of purchasing on-line, magnificence manufacturers needed to change the best way they market themselves.
With this because the backdrop, Arab Information spoke to Mehdi Moutaoukil, L’Oréal Center East’s CMO about e-commerce, digitization, and the best way ahead.
Inform us about L’Oréal’s presence within the e-commerce house previous to the pandemic.
As a digital-first firm, e-commerce has been an integral a part of L’Oréal’s shopper journey effectively earlier than the pandemic. Because the No. 1 magnificence group out there, we had been the primary movers in magnificence to develop long-standing strategic partnerships with key e-commerce gamers to develop the e-beauty class and elevate the patron expertise.
We additionally invested very early, earlier than COVID-19, in our capabilities to have the ability to construct this channel within the area, each from a folks in addition to instruments and know-how perspective.
How did that technique change throughout and post-COVID?
The pandemic accelerated our e-commerce enterprise, particularly in the course of the lockdown interval. Final 12 months, we delivered triple-digit development with e-commerce compensating for nearly half of the brick and mortar losses. We additionally upskilled our whole group’s digital expertise and launched extra direct-to-consumer platforms comparable to Yves Saint Laurent Magnificence.
Since then, we’ve got continued the e-commerce momentum, and right now all our manufacturers can be found on-line on key e-commerce platforms comparable to Midday, Amazon, Namshi, Ounass, Sephora, Lookfantastic, Basharacare, Boutiquaat, and others. We’ve additionally developed personalised magnificence experiences which might be powered by synthetic intelligence instruments, offering customers with entry to the most recent magnificence improvements that enable them to find, try to buy the merchandise they love.
In the course of the pandemic, it was additionally crucial for us to stay related to our customers, so we ensured that we maintained a communication channel by launching a platform referred to as Magnificence Tracker in March 2020. It served as an efficient device permitting us to attach with our customers on an ongoing foundation by way of focus teams or personalised one-on-one classes. These interactions allowed us to take a deep dive into customers’ shifting perceptions on magnificence, the challenges they had been dealing with, their underlying expectations from manufacturers, and their evolving magnificence necessities.
Are you able to share some insights as regards to in-store versus on-line purchasing?
53 p.c of customers within the GCC nations have spent extra time looking and purchasing on-line in the course of the pandemic they usually expressed that they’d proceed to buy on-line submit the pandemic.
E-commerce is now effectively established in each Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as 72 p.c of GCC customers have bought extra magnificence merchandise on-line for the reason that starting of the pandemic (versus 79 p.c offline) and is poised to remain as a key channel for magnificence.
In September, with the progress achieved because of the vaccine rollout, we witnessed the bounce-back of brick-and-mortar purchasing within the magnificence class, primarily within the UAE. However, there haven’t been any direct penalties on digital purchases, which have remained secure over that interval.
At present, on-line and offline consumers demand an omnichannel expertise, and the trail of buy has now merged. Shoppers throughout the GCC anticipate personalised digital experiences and fast on-line providers, which have performed an integral function of their decision-making course of when buying merchandise in addition to their general purchasing journey. We’ve seen this elevated demand amongst millennials and the Gen Z era.
Internet buyers are additionally now demanding sooner supply, which is why gamers comparable to Namshi and Bloomingdale’s are providing same-day supply and Ounass is delivering inside a number of hours. Furthermore, on-line customers are demanding a extra expansive assortment domestically to keep away from longer delivery occasions of merchandise from abroad.
What are among the initiatives L’Oréal launched primarily based on these insights?
We’ve been dedicated to delivering the in-store expertise to the shoppers’ doorsteps whereas preserving the expertise and try-on element. As an illustration, we launched digital try-ons throughout our magnificence manufacturers’ web sites comparable to Yves Saint Laurent Magnificence and Lancôme the place customers are capable of attempt make-up nearly. We’ve applied the identical idea with nail polish model Essie with a digital try-on salon that makes for a handy and enjoyable on-line purchasing expertise.
As per Modiface, the augmented actuality and AI firm acquired by L’Oréal, try-ons utilization was up 5 occasions in the course of the pandemic with twice the engagement and 3 times the conversion, which is a testomony to the effectivity and likeability of this technique amongst customers.
One other key on-line service our luxurious manufacturers use is the ‘On-line Concierge’ function, which permits customers to interact with our magnificence advisors, get personalised suggestions on merchandise in addition to study extra about their key options. This service continues to be essential as increasingly individuals are accustomed to on-line purchasing even after the pandemic.
What about L’Oréal’s in-store versus on-line gross sales?
The previous few years have been integral to the group’s digital journey, and as we propel ahead, our digital activation methods will turn into increasingly knowledge optimized. E-commerce gross sales are actually above 27 p.c of our gross sales globally and we’re investing to be prepared for when e-commerce represents 50 p.c of all gross sales. That doesn’t forestall the group from working on each ft as brick-and-mortar channels are selecting up at 17.8 p.c and reinventing themselves.
How would you sum up L’Oréal’s advertising and marketing technique over the past 12 months?
In recent times, our overarching technique throughout all our manufacturers has been to undertake a personalised method to magnificence by leveraging analysis and growth, know-how, and AI to cater to the distinctive wants of all our customers. We constantly consider the ecosystem wherein our customers function and adapt our advertising and marketing technique in step with their evolving magnificence necessities.
We’ve additionally shifted extra in the direction of digital in our advertising and marketing technique over the previous few years because of the large shift within the shopper journey, which is now largely on cell and net. We’ve been creating shopper engagement that’s designed for digital-first and data-driven shopper resolution journeys — with the suitable touchpoints and tailored content material. This shift comes with the growth of our direct-to-consumer channels and particular person model web sites which have confirmed to be nice touchpoints with our finish customers.