Oct 2, 2023
The L’Oréal Paris teams rented a plush building in the 16th arrondissement of Paris, to prepare for its annual fashion show which took place on Sunday October 1 at 9pm under the Eiffel Tower. In the final days of preparations, FashionNetwork.com was able to catch up with Delphine Viguier-Hovasse, the international managing director of L’Oréal Paris, while the rest of the teams were busy finalising the cast of models and dancers that would accompany the twenty or so L’Oréal Paris ambassadors on the catwalk, or organizing the looks loaned to them by major fashion houses for the occasion. Since 2019, Delphine Viguier-Hovasse has been at the helm of the L’Oréal Group’s heavyweight cosmetics brand (with sales estimated at €6 billion). In the following interview she talks about women, building a world-leading beauty brand and innovation.
FashionNetwork.com: The sixth edition of the L’Oréal Paris fashion show will be held this Sunday at 9pm in Paris. Can you tell us what this event represents for the brand, and what makes this edition so special?
Delphine Viguier-Hovasse: The L’Oréal Paris fashion show is a very important event, because it sums up what the brand is all about. L’Oréal Paris is about women on the move, of all ages, all origins and all social backgrounds. It’s about the sisterhood and strength of women. We are also a brand that is immersed in fashion, a partner of Paris Fashion Week and Andam, of which I myself am on the jury. But above all we are a beauty brand, the number 1 beauty brand in the world.
We speak to ambitious women who want to break out of their environment, out of their condition. We give power to women who need it. Because L’Oréal Paris is an accessible luxury brand, with prices ranging from 4 to 40 euros. It’s important to make this clear, which is why our fashion show is not an intimate event, but open to the public.
And what’s new about this parade is that we’ve gone one step further – it’s taking place under the Eiffel Tower, not next to it. A monument that represents the history of L’Oréal Paris, a brand that was born in the capital 110 years ago. Being under the Eiffel Tower sums up what the brand is all about: powerful and Parisian, technological and festive. The show will feature around twenty L’Oréal Paris muses, including Olympic ski champion Marie Bochet, the extremely talented singer Camila Cabello, Viola Davis, a fantastic multi-award-winning American actress, and Kendall Jenner, a new member of the L’Oréal family whose free will I love.
FNW: How will the show be broadcast and, above all, how many people do you think you will reach?
DV-H: The show will be broadcast live on all L’Oréal Paris brand sites around the world, on our Instagram and via numerous TV partners, such as W9 in France. For the first time, it will also be broadcast, with a slight delay, on Roblox, the gaming platform that attracts 200 million unique visitors a month. This is a fairly young, fairly mixed, global audience, which is interesting for the brand. Last year, the figure we obtained after around ten days post-show was a reach (the media impact of a campaign or activation, editor’s note) of 8 billion potential contacts, representing around 2 billion people. This makes the L’Oréal Paris fashion show one of the most important events in the beauty industry.
FNW: As you pointed out, L’Oréal Paris is the number 1 beauty brand in the world. What is the aim of such an event?
DV-H: It’s to connect with the audience. Just because everyone knows our name doesn’t mean everyone knows us. It’s not the same thing to ask: “Do you know the L’Oréal brand?” and “What do you think of the L’Oréal Paris brand? I’d like people to say: “It’s a brand that has to offer beautiful, quality products, because their ambassadors are beautiful actresses who have to be demanding; it’s a brand that appeals to everyone, because on the catwalk there are women from all walks of life and of all ages; it’s a brand that’s a lot less serious than people think, because they look like they’re having fun on the catwalk…”. This runway show puts flesh on a name that everyone knows.
FNW: What does being a global beauty brand mean in practical terms in terms of sales outlets?
DV:H: L’Oréal Paris is present in 150 countries, but with the explosion of e-commerce, as is the case in China in particular, talking about the number of points of sale no longer makes much sense; it’s no longer necessarily indicative of a brand’s power. But I do think that the shop is very important, because when you experience a brand in 3D, you never forget it. E-commerce and digital are different, you can spend more time there, digging deeper. It’s just like listening to a record at home and going to a concert. Both are great!
FNW: There’s been talk of L’Oréal Paris boutiques in the past. Is this no longer a model you’re developing?
DV-H: We have about ten L’Oréal Paris boutiques in China because it’s adapted to local distribution. I think it’s very important for the brand’s image, but our job is not to do retail, our job is to support our retailers.
We invest around 3% of our sales each year in R&D.
FNW: In which markets does L’Oréal Paris perform best? Are there regions where the brand is not yet present?
DV-H: Of course, the beauty market is very competitive and very fragmented, so even if you are the world leader, you are doing so with a market share that is not that huge… Even though the L’Oréal Paris brand is huge in its own right. What’s really great about L’Oréal Paris is that it has become a geographically balanced brand.
First it was a European brand, then European and American, then European, American and Chinese. Today we are also a brand for emerging countries. And what I’m most proud of is the growth that L’Oréal Paris has recorded over the last five years in Brazil, Indonesia, Thailand, India, the Gulf States and South Africa. These are countries where the women’s place in the professional world was less important, where their time at school was not as long or less frequent, and where L’Oréal Paris now gives power to those who need it. Developing in these countries has given a fantastic boost to the brand’s growth.
FNW: L’Oréal Paris is a well-known and established brand, but how do you appeal to younger people, who often have different expectations to their elders?
DV-H: Of course you have to appeal to young people, talk to them on digital… But the main key remains the quality of the products. This is particularly true in skincare, thanks to our reconstructed skin technology, which we can age, tan, irritate and then repair. We also invest around 3% of our sales each year in R&D, so it’s difficult to challenge our formulas!
So L’Oréal Paris remains a brand of superior quality at an accessible price, that’s our point of difference, and that’s also what appeals to young people. We’re not going to rush into product launches at all costs, but we are going to make sure we have 48 foundation shades that cover 99% of the world’s skin colours, the right lipstick textures… Of course, to appeal to younger people, we also have younger models, which is also why Kendall Jenner is one of our ambassadors.
FNW: L’Oréal Paris is a brand that is present in all beauty segments, but what are its strongest categories?
DV-H: We were born with hair care and hair products, and we offer incredible formulas, such as hyaluronic acid, combined with several molecules, which plumps up the hair fibre. The Hyaluron Plump range, for example, is a worldwide success. We are also fortunate to have a Professional Division within the group, which brings a huge amount of expertise to L’Oréal Paris when it comes to hair products. Then we launched skincare over forty years ago, and this segment has accelerated dramatically, thanks in particular to our Pharmaceutical Division, which is far ahead in the repair of burns and acne, and thanks to which we benefit from cutting-edge research. Over time in this segment, for example, we have become the world leader in anti-ageing. This is something I feel very strongly about, because when you know how to make a good anti-ageing cream, you know how to make a good cream! And then a little more recently, in 1985, L’Oréal Paris make-up was launched in the United States.
FNW: L’Oréal Paris is the leading brand in the L’Oréal group portfolio. How many people work directly for the brand?
DV-H: There are about 180 people working centrally to develop products and advertising. This is the largest number of employees per brand in the group, but it makes no sense without the global ecosystem. The factories, the 5,000 researchers who work on the brand, the research teams who evaluate and test all the formulas, all those who test the molecules and formulas on reconstructed skin. So there are 180 of us, but we are supported by the very best in science.
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