L’Oréal Hong Kong is set to be the first beauty giant to turn to digital tech inventions, a milestone achievement for the company. L’Oréal has previously found much success with its campaigns, such as its collaboration with the Watsons Group on the ‘Beauty for the Future’ campaign. The citywide initiative enabled local beauty consumers to recycle their empty cosmetics and skincare containers from any brand in all Watsons stores.
L’Oréal has consistently prioritised customer experience in its business development strategy, in particular through the integration of tech in the beauty sector. For example, Yves Saint Laurent Beauté’s Rouge Sur Mesure programme, which was launched early last year. The system, powered by AI, created thousands of personalized lipstick shades for customers. Similarly, Kérastase developed an online hair consultation programme, where consumers are able to get in touch with the brand’s representative from home.
Embedded in the brand’s innovative DNA, L’Oréal is set to continue its effort to enrich their digital footprint with a wide range of transformational products and services that address consumers’ needs. Retail in Asia had the exclusive opportunity to interview Eva Yu, President and Managing Director of L’Oréal Hong Kong. Together we discussed the company’s upcoming digital initiatives, the future of personalization in beauty and L’Oréal’s approach to sustainability.
RiA: As one of the biggest giants in the beauty industry, what made L’Oréal turn into digital tech inventions?
Eva: From our first product launched over 100 years ago to our latest beauty tech innovations, L’Oréal was born through science and has always shaped the future of beauty. This has earned L’Oréal’s current position as an uncontested beauty leader worldwide, including in Hong Kong. Being in this leading position, there’s one thing we are sure of – the future of beauty will be powered by tech. And our purpose of creating the beauty that moves the world also requires tech.
Beauty is a permanent quest, and the way our consumers discover, test and buy our products is changing – they expect enhanced services, customization and personalization. Therefore, we look for new ways to create beauty by harnessing the power of our innovation to continually improve the performance of our products and services to satisfy all beauty needs and desires in their infinite diversity. Beauty tech innovations enable us to reach our goals of diversity and inclusion, responsibility to people and the planet, and the growth of our business.
For example, our beauty tech offering exponentially augments L’Oréal’s game-changing science with innovative technologies at scale to deliver unsurpassed personalized and unparalleled beauty experiences. In addition, our Beauty Tech work powered by Green Science is benefitting the planet by pushing the boundaries of the traditional beauty market to create new products and services for everyone.
RiA: How is tech beneficial to L’Oréal’s customers?
Eva: At L’Oréal, we believe that beauty experiences are all about being inclusive, personalized, convenient and sustainable.
Thanks to digital technologies, we have already created a wide range of transformational products and services that put the needs of our consumers first and are tailored for their unique experiences. Here are a few examples:
Beauty tech enables virtual consultation. Because not every consumer has access to a dermatologist or a stylist, with the availability of beauty tech innovations, consumers can virtually try on the perfect hair or lip-colour whenever they want with ModiFace or do an online hair consultation via Kérastase’s website. You can imagine how this accelerated during the pandemic, where convenience and flexibility are crucial.
Tech makes personalization the easiest ever. For example, Yves Saint Laurent Beauté’s Rouge Sur Mesure, powered by Perso, is an AI-powered at-home system that creates thousands of personalized lipstick shades with less plastic within minutes in the comfort of your home for any occasion to suit your outfit or your mood.
Tech enhances customers’ retail experience by combining the best of online and offline to create the retail of the future. With a range of beauty tech innovations available at Lancôme, such as Lancôme Shade Finder, Skin Screen and Pro-Radiance Booster, our consumers can tap into personalized and one-stop immersive experiences to discover and explore our products, services and technologies.
Last but not least, beauty tech enables us to get closer to and act on consumer feedback in real-time and better understand post-launch consumer data. This helps us create unsurpassed consumer experiences, from personal consultation to product trial and purchase, equally top-notch physically and virtually, at the point of sale or in the comfort of home.
RiA: Not only limited to technological hardware, L’Oréal is also tapping into AI and AR development, can you give us a sneak peek on what’s next for the company?
Eva: Last month, L’Oréal shared its vision for the Future of Beauty at Viva Technology (Viva Tech) 2022. In short, L’Oréal will continue to shape the Future of Beauty, leveraging over a century of industry expertise to create unique, multi-sensory beauty experiences. Having pioneered Web2-enabled advances in skin diagnostics, teleconsultation and virtual try-ons, L’Oréal is laying the foundations for Web3 beauty experiences that encompasses VR and AR, to reach a new generation of consumers. ‘On-chain beauty’ through NFT and metaverse signifies where beauty consumers and creators will converge on emerging platforms to participate in the new beauty economy.
Talking about metaverse, one of our brands – Yves Saint Laurent Beauté is launching a metaverse campaign in Hong Kong in August that combines personalized avatars, virtual games and e-commerce experiences to engage our consumers.
RiA: As suggested on the company’s website – “With beauty tech, we are creating beauty that is more inclusive for everyone.” Do you think tech is the answer to the future of personalisation in beauty?
Eva: Beauty tech is making beauty more inclusive than ever. Hyper-personalization can now be powered by tech and science that provides consumers with an infinity of choices, through products and services tailor-made to individuals’ wants and aspirations, in the exact quantities they need and at the time they want.
RiA: As adopted by a few brands under the L’Oréal group, do you think personalized skincare products will ever replace traditional skincare products?
Eva: The future of beauty, like our society, is inclusive. Therefore, our business, brands, and products must be for everyone with different preferences and needs. I believe skincare products and services in all forms are complementary. Personalized products mean we add value to our consumers who seek customized products tailored to their specific needs and desires.
RiA: What is the company’s approach to sustainability like? What kind of changes can we expect from L’Oréal?
Beauty’s positive impact goes so much beyond merely how we look or feel. In 2020, we launched ‘L’Oréal for the Future,’ our sustainability journey to protect the beauty of the planet by fighting climate change, respecting biodiversity and preserving natural resources while contributing to solving the challenges of the world. This is our pledge to use technology and green science to make better products – for us and our world – and to minimize our carbon footprint.
By 2025, all L’Oréal’s sites will have achieved carbon neutrality by improving energy efficiency and using 100% renewable energy. Most recently, L’Oréal Group’s North Asia Zone, where Hong Kong is part of it, became the first of the company’s zones worldwide to achieve carbon neutrality across all sites.
Through interactive technologies such as QR codes, we provide instant, full transparency about our products’ composition, safety, and social and environmental impacts. In Hong Kong, Valentino has been our pilot brand to roll this out, and we expect to expand this to our other brands gradually.
We also invent and champion new business models that unlock, enable, and encourage the adoption of a circular economy and social inclusion.
In 2021, L’Oréal Hong Kong launched the first cross-brand recycling programme involving 18 of its beauty brands. Customers can return the empties to L’Oréal Hong Kong’s over 100 freestanding stores and department store counters. The future annual target is 150,000 containers.
In 2022, L’Oréal Hong Kong scaled up its recycling initiative. Through the partnership with A. S. Watson Group to roll out the ‘Beauty for the Future’ recycling campaign, customers can recycle the cleaned containers of any beauty brand, including foundation bottles, mascara wands, skincare tubs, and lipstick tubes at around 170 Watsons stores across the city in exchange for rewards. Once collected, V Cycle will break down the wastes, separate them by materials, and work with local partners to transform them into new raw materials. The campaign aims to collect 250,000 containers in 12 months following the official launch.
RiA: Can you detail L’Oréal’s recent project with Gjosa on reducing household water consumption?
Eva: L’Oréal Water Saver is an example of how tech allows us to be kind to the planet. Developed in partnership with Gjosa, a Swiss environmental innovation company, it combines a micronization technology with a showerhead cartridge containing haircare products to cut water usage by 60%. The result is a showerhead that divides the flow of water to create 10 times smaller droplets. Water Saver only uses 2.4 liters of water per minute compared to the 7 liters consumed by a standard showerhead. The system not only saves water, but also helps reduce CO2 emissions from heating water.
RiA: The Lancôme Shade Finder being one of the initiatives under L’Oréal’s technology incubation program, can you tell us more about this? What is the mechanism behind it?
Eva: Lancôme Shade Finder makes beauty more inclusive and allows everyone to find the perfect shade and hydration for their skin, using a database of over 22,000 skin tones. It is an advanced technology that uses a proprietary algorithm based on data based on extensive research. This innovation can recommend a foundation shade ideally suited to meet customers’ needs, directly at the point of sale.