2016 in review: L’Oréal – digital and diversity were the watchwords of the year

2016 in review: L’Oréal – digital and diversity were the watchwords of the year

Digital and diversity have dominated headlines on the French beauty giant this year but that’s not all L’Oréal has been up to…

Sustainability was hot on the agenda too, with highlights including L’Oréal scoring an ‘A’ rating in the CDP climate change charts for the fourth year on the trot, being welcomed into the EPA’s Green Power Partnership and named among the world’s most ethical companies by the Ethisphere. Not to mention launching an innovative recycling scheme for used products in Australia, and teaming up with IBN-One to develop the first commercial isobutene plant.

And of course, the French beauty behemoth also owns The Body Shop, which chose to go all out on the sustainability front this year, launching a global CSR strategy in February with a view to becoming the world’s most ethical and sustainable company. Watch out Unilever.

While we’re on the subject of competition – L’Oréal’s digital prowess was repeatedly threatened in 2016, with Shisiedo snapping at its heals. But thus far, we’re unconvinced. L’Oréal has repeatedly kept its finger on the tech pulse, launching snapchat filters and promotions left, right and center, creating its own emoji keyboard, unveiling smart products such as My UV Patch, recruiting a vlogging ‘squad’, getting in on the augmented reality game and teaming up with a series of influential partners to keep its number one spot.

And L’Oréal’s strategy is paying off, literally. E-Commerce sales were up 32 percent like-for-like in the third quarter. Indeed, the French beauty giant bucked the trend in 2016, and although Q2 sales fell slightly short of expectations, it recovered in the third quarter – no one can argue with a 4.7 percent rise (like-for-like) for the first nine months of the year. In line with wider market trends, the company’s Luxe division has recorded an ‘excellent’ performance thus far (full year results are due out in February).

L’Oréal’s success was helped in no small part by the acquisitions its made in 2016, with the addition of IT Cosmetics – L’Oréal’s largest acquisition for 8 years – and Atelier Cologne boosting its star category’s performance still further, while the purchase of Société des Thermes de Saint-Gervais-les-Bains will add heft to its successful Active Cosmetics division.

From diversification to diversity – and to bring the discussion full circle, it’s been quite a year on the diversity front, with L’Oréal smashing it on both levels: on the one hand making sure its organization talks the talk – with new campaigns and products targeting both genders, all colors, creeds and even those with disabilities – notably, L’Oréal Brazil releasing Maybelline audio tutorials for the visually impaired. On the other, it’s walking the walk too, in October announcing a female majority in its Australian division’s Executive Committee and championing women in science, tech and philanthropy with a series of initiatives, awards and mentoring programs.