The lockdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic, along with the extended closure of bricks and mortar stores, have dramatically accelerated the move to online shopping in the beauty sector, says L’Oréal’s chief digital officer.

Speaking with the FT, Lubomira Rochet says changes were especially notable among older women, who were more likely to have previously been wary of shopping online.

“In e-commerce, we achieved in eight weeks what it would have otherwise taken us three years to do,” Rochet told the FT.

L’Oréal, which is the largest cosmetics maker in the world by sales, believes that, for many consumers, the habits developed during the pandemic will be permanent, driven by sales tools such as video chats and online beauty consultations.

The move online was already better established in the beauty sector than others, like grocery shopping, and leading brands L’Oréal and Estée Lauder have invested heavily as newer brands powered by celebrity marketing, such as Huda Beauty and Charlotte Tilbury, have grown quickly by effectively deploying the power of social media, reports the FT.

Some 20% of L’Oréal’s revenue now comes from online sales, either its own branded sites or through e-commerce platforms like Amazon and Walmart. In Q1 of this year, L’Oréal’s online sales were up 53% on the same period a year earlier. Sales overall were down 4.8% on a year earlier.

L’Oréal upped its online marketing during the pandemic, taking it from 50% of total marketing spend before the crisis, to 70%. As a result, online sales rapidly responded, especially in markets that were previously less developed. Sales in Latin America in April leapt by 300%, for example; in Africa and the Middle East, they were up 400%.

The brand set a target in 2013 of selling 20% of products online by this year, with half its marketing budget targeting digital – these goals have now been met, due to the change in consumers’ habits during the pandemic, and the brand must now be more ambitious, says Rochet.

“We had targets for the second stage of our digital transformation but Covid-19 has changed the landscape profoundly, so we have to reassess them,” she says. 

“We are setting ourselves up for a world where half of the business is e-commerce and 80% of consumer interactions will happen online.”

Sourced from the Financial Times