PHOENIX, AZ: L'Oréal, the beauty group, represents an instructive example of how brands can effectively leverage search data in tracking and responding to new trends, a leading executive from Google has argued.

Mike Clarke, Head of Brand Measurement & Analytics at Google, discussed this subject during a session at the 2017 Digital Summit Phoenix.

And he outlined the ways in which L'Oréal has worked with Google in assessing the latest facts and figures related to online search, and translated these nuggets of information into actionable insights.

"They're spending a tonne of time going through query data on Google, query data on YouTube, and watching all these how-to videos to see what the latest styles are, and how they can apply that to products," Clarke said. (For more details, read WARC's exclusive report: How Google helped L'Oréal use search to drive growth.)

"Their C-suite is starting to take this stuff super, super seriously," he continued. "We have people that are very busy, important people ... who are watching a ton of videos on how to do certain things with their hair."

Where many brands regard search as being a way to identify leads and drive sales, L'Oréal is turning this channel into a much richer seam of inspiration – such as by finding videos made by online style influencers.

"They will actually make hairstyles while working on these videos," Clarke said. "That's a really important moment for L'Oréal to intervene at.

"They determined, by looking at search data and looking at how-to videos, how to really get in touch with that community."

One illustration involves the rise of the ombré hairstyle, where colour gradually shifts from one hue to another. While this trend began with models and celebrities, L'Oréal tracked growing online interest and the available information on the topic.

In response, it launched the first DIY home application kit under the Ombré brand. Some 50% of sales for this offering came from new customers, and most buyers were younger than the usual hair-colour consumer.

"Within L'Oréal, what we did with the Ombré launch has really become a success model. It proves you can be nimble and respond to trends even if you're a consumer packaged-goods company," Julie Chamberlain, who was VP/Marketing for L'Oréal Paris Haircolor at the time, said in a Google case study.

"If you use search to stay close to the consumer, listen and really understand what she's looking for, you can react to it quite quickly."

Data sourced from WARC