New face of retail: Pandemic accelerates L’Oréal’s drive to push retail boundaries with ‘phy-gital’ initiatives

By Amanda Lim contact

- Last updated on GMT

The impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is pushing cosmetics conglomerate L’Oréal Group to explore retail strategies within the virtual realm.  ©L’Oréal Group/Lancôme
The impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is pushing cosmetics conglomerate L’Oréal Group to explore retail strategies within the virtual realm. ©L’Oréal Group/Lancôme

Related tags: L'oréal, new retail, Virtual reality, retail

The impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is pushing cosmetics conglomerate L’Oréal Group to explore retail strategies within the virtual realm.

In the last few months, brick-and-mortar retail traffic has fallen largely due to the temporary closure of retail outlets and the confinement of consumers to their homes.

Even MNCs like L’Oréal were not spared. Earlier this month, the company announced that its net profit declined by 13% amid the global sales decline.

The company attributed this decline to the “compulsory closing of a very large number of retail outlets”​.

Michelle Chong, marketing manager of Lancôme Singapore, told CosmeticsDesign-Asia​ that the declining retail environment gave the company a ‘strong impetus’​ to boost the speed of digital acceleration for the brand.

“With COVID-19, it has definitely stepped up the game for pushing the next boundary of retail to a phy-gital space that combines retail-tainment, and O2O shopping experiences.”

This led the company to explore the world of virtual reality and boost its online-to-offline (O2O) retail strategy.

Beginning August 28, the company will be launching a Singapore-exclusive virtual flagship store for luxury beauty brand, Lancôme.

The Lancôme Advanced Génifique #LiveYourStrength Virtual Flagship is an immersive 3D shopping experience that provides consumers with a chance to get up close with the brand in the comfort of their own homes.

“The brand wanted to introduce a brand-new online shopping experience that marries both physical and digital shopping experience in Singapore – hence, the birth of this concept of a virtual flagship store to serve as a convenient and consumer-centric platform for customers to discover and re-discover our best-selling anti-ageing serum,” ​said Chong.

Five zones of exploration

The virtual flagship consists of five zones that were set-up so the consumer can engage with the brand on a new dimension.

“Today’s shoppers are savvy and are looking to connect with the brand beyond the transactional level… We hope that these five unique zones each offers a unique experiential space and an immersive 3D shopping experience that marries retail-tainment in the online sphere,”​ said Chong.

For instance, the virtual flagship has a zone dedicated to discovery, where consumers can learn about the brand’s best-selling product and the science of microbiome behind it.

Visitors can also try out a personality test designed exclusively for Lancôme to “discover their strength type and learn how to live their strengths”.

Before purchasing a bottle of Lancôme’s Advanced Génifique in this virtual store, consumers can get skin consultations in real-time from Lancôme beauty advisors in the exploration zone.

Or, if they prefer, visitors can experience a virtual skin consultation in one selfie with the E-Youth Finder.

“We understand the desire of modern shoppers to want to be educated and informed about their skin and skin care, so we have integrated the e-youth finder, our skin analysis device, within the virtual flagship,” ​said Chong.

The mobile skin diagnosis tool utilises artificial intelligence and advanced algorithms to measure key skin parameters through a selfie and recommend a tailored skin care routine.

In the inspiration zone, consumers can browse through the personal stories of 100 women and their testimonies of using Advanced Génifique.

To further engage with visitors and drum up hype, the brand has invited international and local celebrities to participate in a series of livestreams centred around the campaign theme, #LiveYourStrength.

Lastly, the consumer can purchase the product with exclusive deals at the final zone of the virtual flagship and get products personalised to commemorate this campaign.

Chong told us that if this new initiative proves successful in the Singapore market, the firm may adapt it for other brands and markets.

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