Introduction: There was a clear energy at the last TFWA World Exhibition in Cannes, marking the undeniable return of physical events in the post-COVID world. Amidst all the buzz, few stands at the recent TFWA World Exhibition in Cannes felt as vibrant and buzzy as L’Oréal Travel Retail’s. The beauty giant’s Cannes showing offered an opportunity for the group to express how its strategy and priorities in the channel have evolved during the crisis. The clear focus? Beauty technology. As L’Oréal Travel Retail embarks on its mission to become the ‘Unicornasaurus Rex of Travel Retail’, The Moodie Davitt Report Brands Director Hannah Tan-Gillies caught up with the three women who are leading the company’s ambitious recovery programme.
In a ‘walking-talking’ conversation conducted during a tour of the L’Oréal Travel Retail suite, L’Oréal Paris Travel Retail General Manager Karina Behar-Lecuiller, Global Retail & Digital General Manager Sophie Neyertz-Ehrsam and Active Cosmetics & Professional Products Divisions General Manager Anne-Laure Lecerf discussed the biggest trends shaping the division’s product strategy, how it is embracing changed consumer expectations with vigour and, most importantly, how it is leveraging beauty tech to drive L’Oréal’s mission to give ‘beauty for all travellers’.
Karina Behar-Lecuiller on democratising beauty with L’Oréal Paris
In a recent survey conducted in partnership with m1nd-set, L’Oréal Paris asked over 700 travellers who had just come out of perfumes & cosmetics duty free stores in Dubai International Airport and Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport what brand led them to enter the shop. 13% of respondents — representing the biggest share in the survey — said that the brand that led them to enter the shop was L’Oréal Paris.
Commenting on the survey results, Behar-Lecuiller says: “This survey reaffirms our role as a traffic driver. When they do get inside the store, 68% of travellers end up buying another product in addition to L’Oréal Paris. This means that we are driving penetration, conversion and increasing basket size. This was a very significant study and acknowledges the role we play in driving growth.”
As a mid-priced brand, L’Oréal Paris is key in driving the Groupe’s mission to give ‘beauty for all travellers’. Behar-Lecuiller adds, “Our goal is to give all women affordable skincare, irresistible makeup, some personalisation to make their experience more exciting and a memorable souvenir of their shopping experience.”
The L’Oréal Paris Midnight Serum, the brand’s key launch of 2022, has now been introduced in travel retail-exclusive formats including pouches. The serum was the subject of a Moodie Davitt Spotlight Series eZine in early 2022 and is positioned to democratise luxury skincare for all travellers. “This year, we’re launching the serum’s partner in crime, the Midnight Cream, which completes the high-end L’Oréal Paris night-time ritual. This is the perfect match to the Midnight Serum, solidifying our reputation as a mid-priced, democratic luxury beauty brand.”
In addition to the Midnight Serum, our Hyaluronic Acid Serum is the number one serum in its category. We also have Retinol, and Vitamin C expressions. We have a very straightforward approach to serums with a clear focus on one key dermatological-grade ingredient per product.”
L’Oréal Paris is highlighting its serum offer through ‘The Serum Lab’ visual merchandising concept. The Serum Lab uses different colours and visual cues that help shoppers navigate different serums and educates them on the ingredients and efficacy of each expression.
L’Oréal Paris has also revealed a sleek new travel retail gondola which underscores the ‘premiumised’ identity of the brand. Behar-Lecuiller says: “It is so premium, elevated and gives us a personality and hook. There is a Parisian feeling, with chic gold and a mix of white and black.”
The new gondolas are already rolling out in Bangkok and Phuket and in the new cdf Haikou International Duty Free Shopping Complex. It also debuted at the newly opened Extime Duty Free space in Paris CDG Terminal 1. “The new gondola helps travellers navigate our products easily and quickly with a grab and go vertical display,” she explains.
“On the other side of the gondola is all about makeup. We have top plates to present the Lash Bar, Lip Bar and Face Bar, which make product discovery very easy to navigate. The gondolas also feature ‘before and after’ visuals which highlight the efficacy of all our products. It’s all organised very clearly into defined visual universes to help the customer understand our portfolio. In addition, the new gondolas also educate customers on our sustainable credentials in a clear and concise way.”
L’Oréal Paris has revealed new travel retail-exclusive formats for its Asia-focused Youth Code, Age Perfect and UV Perfect lines. The brand has also launched new pouches which are now made with 98% recycled plastics. She adds: “Our gifting collection is now packaged with recycled cotton and we’re going to put something on the packaging to signpost the sustainability credentials of our products and travel retail exclusives.”
Commenting on L’Oréal Paris’ upcoming launches, Behar-Lecuiller says: “Our next big launch next year is Nectare Royale – which is based on Manuka Honey. It’s a top seller in China and so we’re launching a new size and format for that product in travel retail.
“The Telescopic Mascara, one of our top sellers in travel retail, has been enhanced with a new formula and is getting a big push in 2023. L’Oréal Paris is very famous for our mascara and so I believe this will really boost our range.”
Men make up half of all travellers, yet are often overlooked in the perfumes and cosmetics category, Behar-Lecuiller says. “To address men’s beauty needs, we created a new ‘Orange Wave’ tower. This has convenience, styling, cream and deodorant products, because convenience is a key purchase driver for men in the perfumes & cosmetics category.”
Speaking on convenience, she adds: “We’re rolling out our convenience offer called ‘Last Call for Beauty’ and the response has been very positive. This concept has already rolled out in Qatar Duty Free’s Day 2 Day convenience concept, but we’re working on a smaller version of this for other airports too. This has everything from mini travel formats, to mini bottles of our best-selling lines.”
In line with the Groupe’s mission to ‘invent the beauty of tomorrow’, L’Oréal Paris has installed UV Printing Machines in top travel retail doors such as La Samaritaine and the cdf Haikou International Duty Free Shopping Complex. The printing machine enables travellers to customise their purchases from serums to lipsticks. “We’re really walking the walk of our mission to provide beauty for all travellers,” Behar-Lecuiller concludes. “Our goal is to provide accessible luxury beauty for all women, and I think we are achieving that.”
Anne Laure-Lecerf on the rise of dermacosmetics and haircare
According to L’Oréal Travel Retail Active Cosmetics & Professional Products Divisions General Manager Anne-Laure Lecerf, the dermacosmetics market grew by +13% in 2022, while the professional haircare category increased by +12%. She says: “This growth offers exciting opportunities for L’Oréal Travel Retail which has several brands with a strong foothold in both categories, particularly with our SkinCeuticals, Kérastase, Vichy and La Roche Posay brands.
“In terms of dermacosmetics and professional products, L’Oréal Groupe is doing four times the market,” Lecerf says. “For example, Kérastase has become the top haircare brand globally, even surpassing Head & Shoulders.”
In Cannes, Kérastase put beauty tech to the fore by bringing a hairdresser and a hair consultation tool which gave visitors an in-depth hair diagnosis. “In the professional haircare division, we really want to insist on the service, which has always been a part of the brand. With post-COVID and inflation, people are looking for assurance, efficacy and advice – and are therefore looking for a brand like Kérastase which has a lot of authority in the world of haircare.”
According to Lecerf, Kérastase is enjoying triple-digit growth in travel retail. “This performance is being driven by three pillars,” she explains. “The first is the strength of our portfolio with our premium line Chronoligiste, oil-infused Elixir range and our anti-hair fall collection Genysis.
“The second key to Kérastase’s success is luxury retail excellence,” Lecerf adds. “Kérastase is a luxury brand and we are keen to promote this image in-store. We’re introducing our new retail concept next year, which is more sophisticated, beauty-tech and expert driven.
“The third pillar is the power of the specialist,” she adds. “We are embracing the professional approach with Kérastase. The experience starts with a hair diagnosis, which is crucial to recruiting new people to the channel. Whenever we do a diagnosis, we increase conversion by +30%. Also, 49% of people who come to a shop to buy Kérastase are new to travel retail, which means that we are recruiting new customers into the channel too. People are amazed to see the brand in travel retail, and then when they enter the store the power of the specialist really helps conversion.”
Lecerf adds: “Through the in-store specialists, travellers can discover products they need, discover a new brand and be introduced to the travel retail channel. Today, travellers are looking for efficacy and the best value for money. In that sense – we have two brands that play a very strong role in addressing those needs: Vichy and La Roche Posay.”
Both Vichy and La Roche Posay have performed strongly in the last year. La Roche Posay is growing at twice the rate of the dermacosmetics market, which has grown by +13% in 2022. “La Roche Posay is growing in all continents and in nearly every country. It brings in a lot of growth to travel retail and is a major traffic generator for our retail partners.”
The Anthelios UVMune 400, La Roche Posay’s hero sun care product, is a key driver for this growth. The sunblock has recently been improved with a new formula which protects the skin against long UV rays. Long UV rays are some of the most insidious rays because they can cause skin cancer in the long-term. “A lot of travellers go to sunny destinations and so we feel it is our job to provide them with very strong skin protection. Many people don’t know about them but they are very toxic to skin cancer, ageing and pigmentation.
“Last summer, we launched a big La Roche Posay campaign across all Paris airports which ran across 450 digital screens. The campaign educated travellers about protecting their skin against cancer and underlines our mission to act for good. We have a role to play and it’s not just about selling products,” she explains.
“We also have a role to play in sustainability. Last year, we rolled out carton tubes which represents -70% reduction in plastic use for La Roche Posay. We have also introduced new formula with UV filters that don’t harm marine life.”
According to Lecerf, L’Oréal Travel Retail’s dermacosmetics and professional brands are way beyond recovery and have already surpassed 2019 levels. “Vichy is performing twice the market,” she says. “It is the top dermacosmetics brand in the entire anti-ageing category.”
Vichy’s serum line is centred around the concept of protecting the skin against the ‘Exposome’, which comprises both internal and external aggressors as well as UVA/UVB rays. Vichy’s serums are centred around key active ingredients which cater to specific skin needs: The Liftactiv Supreme 15% Pure Vitamin C Brightening Serum is for boosting skin brightness, the Liftactiv HA Epidermal Filler Serum is for lifting, while the new launch, the B3 Dark Spot Specialist targets skin pigmentation. The latest launch features a specialist blend of actives that tackle all aspects of skin pigmentation. It decreases melanin production as well as the transfer of pigmentation to the skin.
Sophie Neyertz-Ehrsam on hacking the traveller funnel
As L’Oréal continues on its mission to become the ‘Unicornasaurus Rex’ of travel retail, simultaneously leveraging its size and portfolio with a beauty-tech driven approach to innovation, Global Retail & Digital General Manager Sophie Neyertz-Ehrsam discusses all the exciting digital innovations in the pipeline.
She says, “As a leader in the beauty industry we are hacking the traveller funnel at every step of the journey. Pre-trip, at the airport and at destination in order to drive customer engagement and to encourage travellers to go shop both online and offline.”
One of the most interesting initiatives is L’Oréal Travel Retail’s new partnerships with digital travel industry giants such as Tripadvisor. Neyertz-Ehrsam says: “We did two initiatives with TripAdvisor, one in European and the other in Americas travel retail. We engaged outbound travellers from the UK and with Americans travelling to Cancun for vacation.
“Most of our brands were part of the initiative and this encompassed everyone from Luxe to dermacosmetics and other divisions. The results have been very positive and it’s only just the beginning. These projects have significantly helped grow our market share, enhance our reach and boost conversion. We plan to scale these partnerships to a much bigger scale in 2023.
“In Asia, we did the same with Alibaba,” Neyertz-Ehrsam adds. “Through a new strategic partnership through Alipay, Alibaba has become an important partner for us to drive this type of digital engagement in Asia where the lines between digital and physical retail are becoming more blurred. We have also teamed up with Douyin – to drive travellers to our shops and e-shops in Hainan.”
When asked if digital should be seen as a threat to physical commerce, Neyertz-Ehrsam says: “For me, ecommerce will not take customers away from the shops. Ecommerce and travel retail are really complementary channels. When you look at all the studies, ecommerce taps into the travellers who are looking for convenience in airports or downtown, whereas physical stores, which offer retail theatre and experience, are for shoppers who have more time to really get lost in the experience.
“Digital has reinvented the role of the POS as it helps to augment the experience that travellers have in-store. There is no cannibalisation within the two.”✈