'Brand first, products second': L’Oréal APAC boss stresses importance of brand trust in times of crisis - Exclusive

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

 L’Oréal APAC boss stresses importance of brand trust in times of crisis - Exclusive

Related tags Apac Brands L'oréal COVID-19

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is pushing French cosmetics conglomerate L’Oréal Group to find innovative ways to reinforce the trust relationship between its brands and consumers, a leading executive told us in an exclusive interview.

Jochen Zaumseil, executive vice president of APAC, L’Oréal Group, stressed that a brand’s trustworthiness becomes vital during periods of upheaval as consumers are more likely to fall back on the steadfast and dependable.

“Very often, a crisis is also about a crisis of trust. Do you trust the authorities, the current economy – do you trust the brands? Brands with strong trust relationship are growing stronger than the others, it’s a natural thing,”​ Zaumseil told CosmeticsDesign-Asia.

Jochen High-Resjpg

Zaumseil has observed the steady growth among L’Oréal brands that are perceived to have high trustworthiness among beauty consumers.

During the 6.18 online shopping festival in China, the firm saw brands such as L’Oreal Paris, Lancôme and Khiel’s rise to become the top-ranked brands on online platforms like Tmall and JD.com, a trend Zaumseil said was “unprecedented”​.

“These are all brands we would classify has high-level trustworthy brands. The consumer is now looking for more safety and trustworthiness, and of course, the right answers for the needs they have,”​ he said.

While beauty consumers may enjoy experimenting with new products and brands, Zaumseil believes the climate of uncertainty brought about by a crisis would push them towards companies that are more established.

“You will go back to strong values and hold on to what you trust. I would say its brand first and products second, because you buy what you trust – especially in skin care.”

Skin care accounts for about 60% of the company’s business in APAC and has continued to grow very strongly despite the pandemic.

The firm's active cosmetics divison itself, which consists of derma skin care brands such as CeraVe, SkinCeuticals, and La Roche-Posay, saw particularly strong performance in Asia in the first half of 2020, posting double-digit growth and new market share gains.

Building ‘e-Trust’

Lancome

Zaumseil highlighted that beauty advisors play a crucial role in building relationships with consumers.

“Historically, the Asian consumer always buys products with advice from the beauty advisor in the departmental store. However, now in some countries, these stores are closed, and they don’t have access to these beauty advisors.”

As such, rebuilding that channel of communication between them during the lockdown became one of the firm’s priorities.

“The consumer is very simple. They are looking for brands they trust, and if for any reason there is a disruption to the way they can access the brands – like a lockdown – they will find a way to buy the brands,” ​said Zaumseil.

The company utilised online tools to restore consumers’ access to beauty advisors. For instance, its derma beauty brand La Roche Posay began livestreaming sessions hosted by its beauty advisors.

This allowed consumers to ask questions and receive skin care advise from the beauty advisors in real-time.

“The livestreaming hype is nothing but the desire to listen to someone you trust. It could be an influencer, or it could also be a beauty advisor. This new way of trust-building is part of the big changes we’ve seen in this crisis. From offline to online, trust to e-trust; having the agility to switch is very important.”

Additionally, the firm also worked with hair salons during the lockdown period in various cities by developing a microsystem that gave hair salons a channel to peddle products to consumers.

Zaumseil elaborated: “We developed this e-commerce triangle between us, the hair salons and the consumer. With our logistical help, we gave consumers access to buy their hair care from the salons. In the country we applied this, we even sold more than during regular times when salons were open.”

He concluded: “Everything is about trust and relationships, and it’s very important not to disappoint the consumer.”

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