L'Oréal aspires to beauty tech crown
EXECUTIVE'S THOUGHTS: Firm's brands succeeded with customer engagement and growth in the digital arena
Leading cosmetic company L'Oréal announces it is on the path to becoming the most prominent beauty tech company in Thailand.
Inês Caldeira, L'Oréal's chief executive for Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia, told the Bangkok Post that her brands have had astounding success with customer engagement and growth in the digital arena.
This occurred following the firm's pioneering expansion in online services and personalised virtual experiences through beauty tech innovations.
"What we know today is that there are a lot of new consumers that get to know our brands primarily through digital. Beauty is not just about your external appearance and how it makes you feel. People like the experience of using beauty. We recreate that same experience and excitement in the virtual world," said the chief executive of L'Oréal Thailand.
Claiming numerous recognitions, including Thailand Digital Excellence Awards 2021 in the category of Thai Digital Champion for Go to Market Reimagination, Mrs Caldeira highlighted a series of top initiatives powered by augmented reality and artificial intelligence that L'Oréal introduced to the Thai market to enhance customers' experiences.
UNPRECEDENTED BEAUTY TECH INITIATIVES
The first is the Spotscan from the La Roche-Posay programme. It is an AI-based innovation that scans clients' facial appearances through photo submissions, then automatically conducts personalised acne diagnosis and provides skincare recommendations.
The 20-year-tenure L'Oréal veteran said that while most Thai consumers are concerned about acne and skin imperfections, only 10% of the population can afford to see a dermatologist. Hence, this initiative stresses L'Oréal's key principle of supporting the communities.
Second, as a pioneer in beauty tech, L'Oréal launched the Virtual Try-On tool to offer online customers the quintessential element of the in-store experience. Hundreds of cosmetics and hair colouring products from major brands such as L'Oréal Paris, Maybelline, YSL and Giorgio Armani are available online for clients to creatively transform their looks in just a few clicks and then purchase the products from the comfort of their own home or at the stores.
"We develop a tool that allows you to try the products virtually to check through facial recognition about the effects on your skin. And you can only imagine that when the stores were closed that was brilliant because you can continue buying your make up for the video calls without leaving your house or office," Mrs Caldeira said.
Nonetheless, one of the biggest challenges for most people who wear cosmetics is purchasing the correct foundation shade.
The chief executive of L'Oréal Thailand explained that this process could be tricky because human skin has primary and sub colour tones with different levels of warmth and coldness. These colours are not visible to the naked eye, and they all contribute to the complexity of finding the perfect shade that matches the client's exact complexion.
Hence, the beauty giant launched the Shade Finder by Lancôme with an AI-based technology to scan the skin and recommend the ideal foundation shade to the clients.
These initiatives are examples of a handful of beauty technologies that L'Oréal engages in to elevate its services and customer shopping experience.
STRONG SENSE OF PURPOSE
L'Oréal's success today is driven by its three core areas of focus -- the people, the planet and the products. These crucial components have prepared L'Oréal and allowed its winning teams to create beauty that moves the world continuously.
Mrs Caldeira added that she strongly believes in diversity and inclusion as they foster an environment that encourages the exchange of ideas and celebrates all expressions of beauty.
The practice of having a workforce that is representative of the people it serves always drives better business results, more sound decision-making and cutting-edge innovations.
"We serve consumers that are females and males every day so having people in our team that understand the consumers is crucial," she said. "The world is highly competitive and it'd be a waste not to bring everyone together."
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN THAILAND
Building a better tomorrow through sustainability is also at the heart of L'Oréal's business operations. Through the global programme named L'Oréal for the Future, the beauty tech firm sets ambitious and measureable sustainability targets from now until 2030.
Some of the ongoing projects in Thailand include rice bran oil sourced from local producers in the Isan region. The unique oil then gets incorporated into L'Oréal anti-dandruff hair care products.
The firm also built its first green distribution centre in Asia, sporting a LEED-certified silver level in Thailand. The new distribution centre reduces long-term energy costs and water consumption.
This year, L'Oréal Thailand purchased carbon credits to offset the amount of greenhouse gas emissions the company released and Mrs Caldeira also took action on a personal level, resulting in her certification as the first carbon-neutral chief executive in the beauty industry from Thailand Greenhouse Gas Management Administration.
L'Oréal also donated products worth of 300 million baht in 2020 and again this year to affected communities and the healthcare sector to fully help Thailand recover as a whole from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, L'Oréal has continued to support women. The firm partners with several organisations in Thailand to promote women's empowerment and sponsor several scholarships and fellowships such as the "For Women in Science" programme to further women's education, especially in the science and technology fields.
Accordingly, L'Oréal Thailand has also won the UN Women 2021 Thailand Women's Empowerment Principles Awards (WEPs) in the category of Community Engagement and Partnerships.
This was the first-ever UN Women WEPS Award held in Thailand to honour organisations with good practices based on the principles of women's empowerment and the promotion of gender equality in the business sector.
As 2022 is on the horizon, the chief executive of L'Oréal Thailand said that the firm will double down on its initiatives and continue on the mission to be the number one beauty tech company in Thailand.
"It's fair to say that everyone in Thailand, not just L'Oréal, is on a race to get back to 2019 levels," Mrs Caldeira said. "We have no intention to stop and no one can stop us now."
Such vision to become the number one is inching closer to realisation, according to Mrs Caldeira, through the firm's ongoing efforts in digital acceleration, consumer satisfaction enhancement, stronger dermatology market penetration and sustainability imperative.