Ideas Are Cheap, Execution Is Everything

Ideas Are Cheap, Execution Is Everything

Behind the scenes of L’Oréal Innovation Factory with Portia Banerjee

For a young creative marketer, L’Oréal has always been an aspirational brand to observe and learn from. During my master’s degree, I had opportunities to participate in consulting projects, masterclasses, and the L’Oréal Innovation Factory in which they took the concept of seminars to a whole new level. The Innovation Factory had everything we would want to explore and learn in the field of marketing and beyond. When I was signing up for the event, I could see the list of experts taking part in the event and I knew it was one of those opportunities where you get to experience a “behind the scenes” look at a groundbreaking company in the field of beauty. 

The event perfectly lived up to my expectations. I wanted to find a connecting thread between my master’s degree and the professional world. L’Oréal Innovation Factory built the bridge between my theoretical knowledge and the practical wisdom that I would need to apply in the real world. It started with a masterclass with Lubomira Rochet, Chief Digital Officer, where she spoke about the recent developments in the market and the acceleration of social commerce. She shared the values and the trends of the digital future amid this crisis. The next two days were hosted by Alex Bennet and made of intensive sessions related to various aspects of innovations in the industry. What made the event different from any other was the fact that they gave equal importance to the content delivery part and the Q&A part. Being able to ask as many questions as needed really enriched the whole experience. In addition to getting an inside view of the company, the sessions were designed in such a way that the learnings could be implemented in our day-to-day professional life. 

“Ideas are cheap, execution is everything.”

This was the thread that connected each session. Successful ideas are not enough to build a company. Mistakes in the execution and how you overcome them are key to progression.  It is more about “The Journey”: the resilient nature required to progress in a competitive industry, the importance of entrepreneur skills to excel at an individual level and most importantly the ability to learn things on a daily basis. The essence of these three days is summarized below.


  • L’Oréal for the future

Session by Nicolas LECOCQ, Beauty Tech Stream Leader (Augmented Products)

The digitalization/digital transformation of the consumer journey delivered many innovative ways to create consumer engagement. For companies, the whole point is to understand how to benefit from a web of enterprise data intelligence that can in return give better and easy consumer interaction. This also brings in ethical questions and this is what Nicolas guided us through. As a new generation of professionals, it is our responsibility to always consider sustainable choices. He illustrated those points by sharing his project of creating a digital identity that will have elements of transparency and traceability. Discussions around “L’Oréal for the future” trained the participants to think creatively when it comes to creating sustainable and personalized experiences for the consumers. 


  • Marketing 3.0

Session by Cyriaque HOUDOUX, Senior Brand Business Manager – Cadum, Ushuaïa, Savon Le Naturel

In this ever-changing VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous) world, rapidity is key. Rapidity to think, to act but also to adapt. When it comes to creating a brand image, adopting a marketing 3.0 approach relies on encouraging holistic marketing. Holistic marketing helps a company keep momentum even during a crisis. This can be executed by changing the old vertical pyramid into a circular approach, thus bringing the concept of departments working together towards a common goal. This approach helps with decentralization within the organization. This leads to de-siloing, in-sourcing, mutual upskilling, and focusing on a common goal by all the departments, thus making the operation and execution part easier. 


  • Freeze the moment

Session by Max DANTE, International Marketing Project Manager – Giorgio Armani

Every single detail has its importance while creating a luxury brand! After getting insights into the international and operational marketing of Giorgio Armani, we went through the journey from product creation to aligning products, and from promotional assets to the local market. We got exposure to the Armani fragrance portfolio with a 360 example of the famous advertisement: “Freeze the moment”. The most interesting part was learning about the thought process behind the packaging design and the main inspiration behind the product. This campaign was the personal narrative of the founder and that made the whole idea even more beautiful. This session answered the most asked question in the world: “How to be creative?”. The session encouraged us to draw inspiration from our day-to-day lives. Creativity comes easily when you try to include it in your everyday life. 


  • Fish where the fish are

Session with Marine DENELE, Head of Consumer Marketing (France) MNY & Essie

As mentioned earlier, the environment is constantly evolving. Marine talked about the importance of the distribution shift, the threat on purchasing power, the media consumption evolution, and the importance of creating a positive impact. Diving into the journey of understanding customers, we also discovered two absolute mantras of business. First, leverage your assets and seize the major shift. Second, fish where the fish are. 


  • The story behind Hair food

Session by Christopher CAREY, Global Marketing Manager – Garnier

Christopher took us through a complete product journey from idea to launch results. That way, we could understand the mechanism of DMI (Development Marketing International), how to consider brand equality, deal with multiple partners and always keep clients as the top priority. We went through every stage: idea validation process, experimenting with formulas, doubts, and failures which later led to the creation of something that gained amazing consumer response. This culminated in the successful worldwide launch of New Fructis Hair food. Creativity was present at every step which made this session particularly inspiring. 


  • Tomorrow, no more a place to buy but a place of Retail-tainment

Session by Luka BREKALO, Global E-Commerce Lead – CDO Team

The world of e-commerce has encountered a massive channel shift which is here to stay. It is crucial to understand the need for new demographics, new categories, new players, and new operating models and how to create them successfully. The takeaway of this session was to prepare oneself to envision:  “Tomorrow, no more a place to buy but a place of Retail-tainment.” Such a vast topic opened the door to very interesting discussions such as: how to create a competitive service better than a door-to-door selling model in Latin America, and how to operate a qualitative and sustainable business.


  •  RICE Framework 

Session by Vincent ARCIN, Global Digital Services Factory Director

This session helped us visualize the shift of traditional beauty brands into beauty tech brands. A lot of frameworks used in the session helped make the complex structure easier to grasp. The most interesting part was learning about all the cool apps that L’Oréal created to solve a variety of pain points for the consumers and all the various steps they took to make the detailed-oriented app features. Such a successful result required dropping some ideas along the way and betting on others. This was a great opportunity to learn how to prioritize ideas in decision-making using the RICE framework. 


  • Tech for good

Session with Léa D’EMARO, Head of Consumer Experience & Beauty Tech – La Roche-Posay

We had an opportunity to closely understand the strong fundamentals of Blue Ocean services. We focused on a very concrete example: the five tasks needed to be done through the Spotscan app. L’Oréal teams worked thoroughly together to bring in a 5-in-1 solution. From coaching to teledermatology to personalization, the app featured all of these and data collection facilities for the user. In the end, they even created a community where everyone can find people with lookalike skin conditions and support each other. Thus changing the concept of “Tech for business” to “Tech for good”. 


  • The Battles of Growth

Session with Hajar KSIKES, Shopper Experience Manager – Active Cosmetics Division

Hajar took us all on a ride to the time of the birth of the consumer goods industry and the emergence of new retail distribution models. On this historical journey, we discussed the shift from “the battles of shares” to “the battles of growth”. To make us understand the concept better, Hajar took an example of a cake with the cake being the product. The concept of “the battle of growth” emphasizes helping retailers to cook a bigger cake, making the cake taste better for the consumer and in the end owning the biggest portion of it. The number of shares is not important here. What is important is the quality and demand of the product and the reach of the brand. She also took us through the development of a project and how it started with collecting the best of shoppers’ insight and developing a personalized consumer experience with entry points, skin diagnostic, multimedia content, and customized recommendations from experts. 


  • Beauty for all, Beauty for each individual

Session by Benjamin ASKENAZI, Applied & Digital Optics Team Manager

Through this session, we were dissecting the enormous amount of work that goes into building any artificial intelligence application. We learned how partnerships could be developed to reach better results and more audience integration. We even discussed digital foundation failures and how they were overcome. Other questions came along especially: “when some of this artificial intelligence technology could enter the mass market?”. We found that the goal is to go from the point-of-sale experience to the home experience and then it could be done once the technology is stronger, better, and more impactful. And, to make the best impact, the mission is: “Beauty for all, Beauty for each individual”.


  • 2030 vision of L’Oréal

Session by Anne-Christelle CASANO, Global HR Transformation and Learning Director

The future is being built today. Over the past years, L’Oréal implemented a robust financial transformation, standardized global systems, and strengthened Finance’s contribution which helped them unlock a deeper analysis of the business. When discussing different aspects like the 2030 vision of L’Oréal, the impacts of Finance, HR contributions, and missions, we also discussed the current rise of e-commerce, CSR, and the circular economy. It has become important for everyone to translate the strategy into real organizational value. The takeaway from the last session was definitely the importance of fostering a sense of community and democracy in learning which makes an employee stick to L’Oréal for an average of eight years. 


In conclusion, the sessions reflected what we studied in business school coupled with the disruptive visions of the expertise and the secrets that make L’Oréal surf the wave of excellence in the beauty industry. The Innovation Factory busted the myth that employees are not entrepreneurs. Every session pointed out the importance of entrepreneurship skills and how they acted as a game-changer for the company.  A good idea can come from anywhere. You should be able to broaden your way of thinking in order to take advantage of any situation. Therefore, what we learned was the importance of the combined essence of entrepreneurial skills and innovation. This made L’Oréal Innovation Factory an event very beneficial to anyone who wants to know more about creating an everlasting sustainable, digital-first, customer-centric, first-mover, trendsetting brand.