Why L'Oréal Indonesia remained bullish in its product launches amidst the pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected physical retail for businesses worldwide, and L'Oréal Indonesia was also not spared from its impact. According to its chief consumer officer, Aswaina Seroja, many of its points of sales were closed during the COVID-19 period. However, that did not stop the beauty brand from engaging its consumers during the period. Instead, it ramped up its online marketing strategies, tapping on online channels such as eCommerce and social commerce. 

With consumers mainly staying at home during this period, L'Oréal Indonesia boldly chose to launch a product for its Garnier brand online before making it available in convenience stores. Seroja (pictured) told Marketing Interactive that it first launched the "Garnier Light Complete Booster Serum" with a 360-degree marketing launch via eCommerce channels, with the help of its eCommerce partners such as Lazada and Shopee. The product was then made available in convenience stores after. Besides relying on its eCommerce channel during this time, which Seroja said has become “a very strong part” for the brand, L'Oréal Indonesia also placed its focus on social commerce. While like most companies, COVID-19 pushed L'Oréal's digitisation plans further, the journey towards digital for the company started way before the pandemic. Being in an industry that grows rapidly alongside with the advancement of technology, along with its ambition to be number one, gives the brand many opportunities to experiment, and aided its resilience during this period of tough times.

Even though both its staff and consumers had to stay home during the large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) in Indonesia, L'Oréal Indonesia ensured their services were still being provided to its consumers. For its luxury brands such as Kiehl’s and Lancôme, L'Oréal Indonesia equipped its beauty advisors with skills through social commerce, chat and shop, and livestreaming. This way, consumers could still experience online consultation and even purchase L'Oréal’s products from the comfort of their homes.

"What we know and have learned from our 100 years of experience, is beauty is a resilient market. The desire for beauty is eternal and so we were confident that consumers will continue to consume beauty albeit in different manners. Our business resilience was made possible by several key strengths: Our lead in the field of digital and e-commerce, which proved to be crucial during the crisis and is now even bigger; the power of our brands and our major products; and the tremendous teamwork of our talent here in Indonesia," she said.

As a result, its luxury division succeeded in recovering significant part of its sales even when 90% of the malls in Indonesia were closed, according to Seroja. This shift in marketing strategy came as L'Oréal Indonesia saw an increased demand for omnichannel marketing, since its consumers' lives are increasingly getting integrated over recent months, Consumers are now interacting with brands, purchasing products and services, and consuming content both on digital and offline, Seroja said, adding that it is hence imperative for beauty brands such as L’Oreal Indonesia to remain competitive in both digital and traditional platforms. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has also accelerated the growth of online channels for brands in Indonesia, which sees an increasingly competitive space when it comes to online channels. To be able to continue earning the trust and love from consumers during this period of uncertainty, Seroja said brands need to be able to show that they are relatable and relevant to the current needs of consumers. It also needs to stay true to its identity, and consistent across its multiple touchpoints. Additionally, she added, it was important for the numerous L'Oréal brands to “be where the consumers are” when they interact with them.

For L’Oreal Indonesia specifically, Seroja said the brand saw a recent increase in demand for in-home treatments such as masks and home-hair color, due to the fact that consumers are opting to stay at home. To cater to shift in consumer need, L'Oréal Indonesia trained its hairdressers in its hair salons to carry out its operations at home through “LPExpert@YourHome”. Through the initiative, its hairdressers are trained with safety protocols, and are able to provide services such as hair colouring and hair treatment in-house for their consumers. With this pivot, L'Oréal Indonesia was able to not only maintain interaction with consumers by providing what they need, but also ensure its staff are able to retain their jobs through the pandemic.

Seroja added that there has also been a rapid growth in products such as skincare, eye makeup, and hand cream. This comes as there is an increased use of protective masks and hand sanitisers. As such, during the pandemic, it was more vital than ever for the company to understand such change in demands in consumers, and for brands to be able to tailor a better consumer experience. “Tailoring a consumer experience needs to start from understanding consumers; how diverse they are and how personal beauty can be for them,” Seroja said. In efforts to provide a more personalised consumer experience, L'Oréal Indonesia identified different beauty consumer segments, and uses this identification to connect with different groups of consumers. It does that by providing the most relevant touchpoints with the most relevant mixes for each segment, according to Seroja.

Another way that L’Oreal Indonesia is looking to provide more relevant products and services to its consumers is by investing in data-driven marketing. In a conversation with Marketing Interactive, L'Oréal Indonesia’s head of digital and media, Fabian Prasetya Wijaya, said data-driven marketing allows it to provide more relevant messages to its consumers in the right timing and in the right manner.

“Consumer centricity will always be at the heart of how we do marketing, therefore a deeper understanding of consumers through advocacy and influence effort is becoming the next big thing, where you use technology to allow you draw closer proximity towards your audience," he said.

Wijaya added that when it comes to data-driven marketing, a lot of marketers has been trying to crack this space of precision at scale. As an FMCG company, L'Oréal Indonesia is also trying to put scale on this front, and looks to be able to lead this digital space. The beauty brand has been “tremendously increasing” its digital budget over the past couple of years, and it sees it “paramount” to spend even more over the next few years to reach relevant consumers with its products and services.

This is especially so with emerging new spaces in digital marketing, said Wijaya, who also cautioned about the constant learning curve when it comes to digital. With multiple new platforms emerging in the market, such as the rise of social media platform TikTok, understanding each platform and what it brings to the table can be challenging. Wijaya added that within each new emerging digital channel, measurement metrics may also change over time. This would result in the team needing to go back to the drawing board to redefine its objective and KPIs.

Join us on a three-week journey at Digital Marketing Asia 2020, where Seroja will be speaking, as we delve into the realm of digital transformation, data and analytics, and mobile and eCommerce from 10 to 26 November. Sign up here!

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