L’Oréal’s new CMO on why brands shouldn’t have a digital strategy

One thing becomes clear when meeting L’Oréal’s new chief marketing officer for Western Europe – he is feeling rather optimistic.

Stéphane Bérubé arrived in the UK two months ago, having spent 15 years with the business in Canada. He takes over from Hugh Pile, who is currently on sabbatical to help run his family business.

Having had close relationships with the Canadian media, Bérubé invited some of the trade press into L’Oréal’s Hammersmith head office last week to formally introduce himself and talk through his plans for the region.

Despite Brexit, inflation and dropping consumer confidence, Bérubé remains upbeat about the UK market and its growth potential. Besides the beauty category generally holding out in times of uncertainty, he believes Britain still has strong tech capabilities. The UK is currently the company’s fourth largest market – after the US, China and France – and thereby important to the growth of Western Europe overall.

“The UK is much more advanced in digital than a lot of countries in Western Europe. We’re at the forefront of [the region] in a lot of different ways. London is the Silicon Valley of Europe,” he said.

Introducing ‘O+O’

One of Bérubé’s biggest priorities is driving sales across all platforms – or as he likes to call it O+O (online plus offline). At the moment, roughly 20% of L’Oréal’s sales are delivered through ecommerce channels, but he wants digital to account for a much higher percentage. In order to achieve this, he said the brand must stop talking about ecommerce as a separate channel.

“I don’t believe we have an online and offline consumer. Marketing needs to move from having [separate] digital priorities. We need to stop talking about what is the digital strategy. I am making a big point of this [to change] in the culture at L’Oréal,” he said.

“I always smile when agencies claim they are doing digital. Honestly, maybe that was good in 2010, but in 2017 they should claim they just do marketing. We need to stop talking about digital – it’s all part of marketing.”

Brands also have a job to do to convince consumers of the benefits of sharing their data, as it will lead to more personalised ads, he said, while also increasing sales for L’Oréal.

He believes the fact brands are not using data correctly or know which data is most important is a wider problem, however. Bérubé said he still receives ads for nappies despite his youngest child being eight-years-old; something he describes as a “waste”.

“We are in the era where consumers don’t know the benefits of data and have a negative view of it. Our priority is to bring personalisation to consumers and be super relevant. From an industry standpoint, we have not done a very good job [of explaining] why data can bring relevancy and more meaningful content,” he commented.

Read more from Leonie Roderick on Marketing Week.

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