In this Brand Innovator Spotlight, Marc Speichert, CMO of L’Oreal USA, explains how the beauty company is leading consumers down the purchase funnel digitally and provides vivid examples.
Brandon Gutman: The digital revolution has changed the way consumers buy products. How are you addressing this in the beauty category?
Marc Speichert: Consumers are clearly moving outside the traditional purchasing funnel, changing the way they research and buy products. It used to be that consumers would select what to purchase from a large portfolio of brands and products. Following their purchase, a customer’s relationship with the brand was relegated to their experience with the product or service – a model that we referred to as the “Consider” and “Buy” stages.
That was the old model. As I discussed at the IAB’s recent “Future of Display” conference, the path to purchase has changed enormously becoming more multi-dimensional with new media making the “Evalute” and “Advocate” stages of purchasing product increasingly relevant. There is an extended evaluation phase in which customers consider what brands to purchase. Following that, they often enter into a relationship with that brand and share their experience online. The bottom line is that your customers wield power and control over your brand like never before.
Can you give some examples of how L’Oréal USA is putting this “path to purchase” into practice?
We have created some unique ways to achieve this that illustrate the different dimensions of a consumer’s path to purchase – consider, buy, evaluate and advocate. Allow me to illustrate.
Last August, our L’Oréal Paris brand launched its Destination Beauty channel on YouTube. The site features videos on Beauty Basics, Makeup Trends, Special Event Looks, eye looks and All About Hair. Viewers can share these videos with their friends on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and Google Buzz. It is the most viewed program in YouTube history with 22M partner videos viewed garnering 287MM impressions. This program targets the “Consider” stage of purchasing in that customers can add or subtract brands from their consideration list.
Beauty is personal and specific and in order to connect with women around their specific beauty needs, we recently launched a partnership with Demand Media utilizing two of their properties, typeF.com and the eHow Style channel. These platforms enable us to deliver a meaningful, personalized experience in contextually relevant environments. This multi-dimensional initiative combines custom content and exclusive media to connect L’Oréal brands with women seeking personal beauty solutions. It is one of our most transversal endeavors with 15 L’Oréal USA brands participating. Targeting the “Evaluate” stage, we are able to create unique opportunities for brands to engage with qualified purchase intenders.
An example of the “Buy” stage can be found in our Kiehl’s brand with digital being used to enhance the Kiehl’s experience. The retail experience — storytelling, design, attitude, sampling and customer service – for which Kiehl’s is known in its brick and mortar stores is translated in a very consistent manner online. This extends to helping in the decision to buy through Kiehl’s online Peer to Peer Interaction page.
An example of making customers into brand advocates can be found in our collaboration with Telemundo Communications. Together we launched Club de Noveleras to reach potential Hispanic customers. The partnership targets one of the Hispanic community’s strongest passions, telenovelas. Fans have the opportunity to connect with one another, engage with their favorite Telenovela stars while earning points to win prizes, Telemundo brand premiums and L’Oréal USA products from our collection of brands.
You’ve shared how the brand is working with some large partners. How about any successful partnerships with some more early stage companies?
We’re always looking to push the boundaries. Our partnership with cloud-based advertising platform, Flite is a good example of joining forces with an emerging, innovative company in the use of interactive display banners. This allows us to enter the customers’ path to purchase during the “consider” stage by allowing them to actually interact with the ad in real time thus engaging them in a unique way.
Follow Brandon on Twitter at http://twitter.com/brandongutman