#SSWellnessWatch Kavita Angre on Loreal India navigating offline experience through online

Kavita Angre

Loreal India’s Kavita Angre sheds light on the evolving consumer trends in the beauty & wellness segment under the ‘new normal’ and how social media helps in walking the talk.

Harping onto consumer trends in the beauty and wellness category and serving the need of the hour has been at the core of Loreal India’s marketing strategy amidst the crisis. Kavita Angre, Director – Consumer & Marketing Insights & Media, Chief of Consumer Marketing & Insights, L’Oréal India speaks at length about the brand’s on-ground strategy and various content hooks that helped the brand keep the consumer of today engaged via digital.

Excerpts:

As a brand, how are you approaching COVID-19? How are you trying to help your consumers survive this difficult phase?

At L’Oréal, we have used this time to stand in solidarity with those in need, with the industry, the community, as well as addressing the needs of the consumer.

Our team innovated and in record time created L’Oréal hand sanitizers for donation to frontline heroes. We also ensured over 6000 migrant workers were given food and essentials and health care centers around our factory locations were equipped with PPEs.

As a company, education is the core of our DNA, we have continued to do that during the lockdown period with over 50000 hairdressers and beauty advisors trained by adopting technology and using virtual tools to deliver the same quality of training.


What were the on-ground measure undertaken?

In order for people to overcome anxiety around personal health and safety in salons, we have been closely working with salons and hairdressers to make the salons safe. This includes sharing guidelines for re-designing the salon environment, e.g. social distancing between workstations, removing magazines, and keeping sanitizers handy to new behaviors and practices for the staff.

We also announced a credit extension for all our distributors and direct salon partners during the lockdown. Additionally, we empowered 9000+ salons nationally for contactless delivery of hair care products.

How do you view the impact of COVID-19 on the Beauty and Wellness industry?

Given the situation, there is a heightened concern for health and safety. As expected, the skin-cleansing category has seen an increase in usage. Interestingly, this has also led to an increase in demand for skincare products – as people are washing more frequently, they experience dryness of skin, which leads to the usage of more care products. We saw an increased demand for intensive care products such as sheet masks

While usage of hair care products has remained the same and most consumers have continued to color their hair even in the lockdown period.

With social distancing, socializing has reduced and thus we have seen a temporary drop in usage of makeup products but as the lockdown lifts and people begin to step out again, we expect the focus on cosmetics picking up.

What we are seeing currently and our experience in other markets bears this out – is more of a supply crisis than a demand crisis. People have a fundamental need to feel and look good, and there has always been a strong appetite for beauty products.

When the pandemic became prominent in March, most brands had to revisit their marketing & communication strategy. What was it like for Loreal?

We have to be sensitive to the consumer’s frame of mind as we talk to them in this highly volatile situation. We have to show empathy over everything else. Garnier, with its Take Care purpose, has been talking of quarantine care and taking care of oneself and those around us. Loreal Paris has been talking about how we are even more ‘worth it’ in these times.

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We have transformed from a beauty company to a Beauty Tech company. Today e-commerce is the No. 1 growth driver for L’Oréal India.

In the Consumer Products Division, we have optimized our digital reach to help online purchasing habits and present new opportunities for brands. The emergence of a low touch economy is further helping us accelerate digital transformation and optimize our marketing efforts through enriching content.


We have mounted virtual try-on on all our digital assets and are delivering a much richer online experience with the consumer through our investments in VR/AR. We are in effect enabling a purely offline experience, online now.

The need for the hour is adapting and pivoting plans fast to catch changing consumer trends and needs. Aligned to that we have also planned a series of offerings, like wider DIY categories in our products, more focus on eyes in product development, like we recently launched eye masks by Garnier. We will also be looking at some innovations in the home hair-coloration segment.

How has social media been helpful in engaging with consumers?

The power of the medium has truly come to force during this pandemic. It has helped brands educate and engage consumers, basis their needs and requirements.

For example, at L’Oréal India, we have extensively used social media to educate and handhold consumers in their DIY journey. We have hosted numerous LIVE sessions with our brand experts from L’Oréal Paris and Maybelline as well as leveraged influencers to interact with consumers and help educate them on DIY hair coloration, eye makeup trends, back-to-office looks, makeup for video conferences, acing the light makeup look, etc.

We have utilized Facebook for full-funnel solutions, using video solutions to broaden consumer base and awareness, but also optimize the medium with conversion ads using a mix of campaign strategy and assets.

We have been delivering richer online experiences for our consumers through virtual platforms, VR/AR tools, LIVE sessions to enhance their DIY journeys. We have been capturing the DIY and digital trends through:

  • Delivering education in a virtual way 
  • Use VR/AR tools to try the product and see how it looks on you
  • Access to e-consultants who can further help answer queries (organized special sessions with our Hair Color expert to clarify all her questions)

So we educated, demonstrated, and consulted – all virtually!

Please take us through your media mix. What kind of a role does social media play?

Obviously, the lockdown has sparked broad changes to how consumers discover and shop for beauty and care products by pushing more activity online be it purchase or media consumption.

Therefore, our media mix has seen a significant shift towards digital channels and platforms. We have been delivering a much richer online experience for our consumers, capturing the DIY and digital trends through delivering education in a virtual way. Social media, like shared previously will continue to play a critical role in educating and engaging consumers through DIY and other new trends.

Social media influencers will also play a big role in driving brand advocacy and consumer engagement.

With changing consumer behavior at this time, what are the changes in consumer trends observed during the lockdown?

The biggest trend is the significant shift to e-commerce. 18% of people bought personal care or beauty products online for the first time during this crisis. As hygiene consciousness increases, we will see a demand for stronger claims on hygiene, efficacy, and safety.

Usage of masks has become mandatory, thus there is a shift to eye makeup. Hair color on the other hand has seen a rise in demand. In fact, according to a survey by Redquanta, salon visits were among the top 3 activities that people have missed the most during the lockdown, with 56% saying they missed going to salons.

Additionally, the intensity of cleansing has gone up due to safety concerns, which will drive the need for intensive skincare. Further, there is a higher adoption of digital tools and technologies such as VR/AR.

We have been in the business for 110 years and the desire for beauty has been with mankind for 100,000 years. Like everything else, the market will transform. With COVID, it might go through an accelerated phase of transformation in products, consumer use, distribution, etc. but as long as we are close to the consumers and thinking of satisfying their needs, the beauty market will be fine.

The pandemic has seen the A & M industry evolves to rise as one and help citizens. What are some of the marketing trends you have witnessed in these times?

Some of the trends were – focus on driving behavior change towards category adoption while downplaying the brand. A lot of the advertising has been more empathetic where brands recognize the COVID context and the times we are in, how consumers are coping with it.


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