From Beauty Brand to Tech Innovator
L’Oréal is the world’s largest global beauty company. While L’Oréal is well-known for its expansive list of consumer beauty products and brands, most don’t know about its deep roots in science and technology. The company employs a full team of scientists researching chemistry, biophysics, photobiology and beyond, and runs several programs designed to bring more women into tech and science. Additionally, L’Oréal’s Research and Innovation Technology Incubator, designed as a startup within the beauty giant, is behind innovations in virtual reality, 3D-printing human skin, wearables, connected objects and customized beauty.
Despite this foundation, there was little awareness of these aspects of the brand. Complicating matters more, other popular beauty brands started emerging with tech-first ideas and products, increasing competition for mindshare around beauty tech.
L’Oréal USA turned to Mission North to establish the company as a disruptive force in technology and science and change the public’s perception of it from a pure beauty company to a tech-forward innovator.
We began by mining the innovation stories from across the company, and identified three core areas of focus: the incubator, digital marketing initiatives to reach consumers in novel ways and the company’s women in STEM programs. Our PR strategy was designed to showcase the company’s assets and leverage current trends, such as gender diversity conversations.
- We used the incubator as the platform for L’Oréal’s technology story, unifying the company’s innovations with its mission of bringing beauty to all. The brand made its debut as a true technology player at CES 2016, where we helped launch the UV-measuring wearable skin patch to huge success. The following year, we launched the world’s first connected hairbrush, which was the talk of CES 2017.
- To spotlight the depth of innovation across the company, we coordinated a rolling thunder of curated media efforts around around new products and digital marketing initiatives, including a beauty emoji keyboard, a virtual reality initiative to revolutionize hair stylist training and a digital marketing partnership with General Assembly.
- To further extend L’Oréal’s tech story, we put a concerted effort around the company’s women in STEM initiatives – Women in Digital and For Women in Science – that help women break into science, technology and digital fields with grants and networking opportunities. In order to shift the broader consumer perception, we knew we had to address both the mainstream and consumer press. For the For Women in Science program, we created a unique narrative for each grant recipient, securing profile features in key beauty and local publications to reach the brand’s core buyers.
Beyond the sheer volume of articles positioning L’Oréal as a tech leader, the company also became a “go-to” for several top-tier reporters for stories and speaking opportunities at the The New York Times, AdWeek, Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes and more.
Here is a sampling of the media results from our approach:
- Launched the most buzzed about product at CES – one of the noisiest tech conferences – two years in a row. The My UV Patch garnered coverage in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and TechCrunch. The Kérastase Hair Coach saw nearly three billion impressions globally and was featured in Fortune, Financial Times and Fast Company.
- Positive media coverage of cross-company initiatives:
- Beaumoji, a beauty emoji keyboard, was spotlighted in publications such as Bustle and Forbes.
- Adweek and Women’s Wear Daily featured L’Oréal’s partnership with General Assembly to standardize digital marketing skills.
- Fast Company and VentureBeat published stories on L’Oréal’s Virtual Reality initiative for professional hair stylist training.
- Profile pieces on L’Oréal’s women in STEM programs underscored the tech story with a consumer audience in Teen Vogue, Nature, Women’s Wear Daily, Forbes and a print-story in Cosmopolitan.