Introduction by: Peter Marshall

So very pleased to announce the first of an exclusive, five part series of interviews with L’Oréal’s senior Travel Retail management. And we kick off with Karina Behar-Lecuiller, General Manager, Travel Retail Worldwide – Consumer Product Division, who sets out how and why L’Oréal is the world’s number 1 beauty brand. 

Peter Marshall (PM):  Karina, welcome to I would like to start this conversation by first asking a general question. Just how is L’Oréal Paris performing on the high street? Year after year we bear witness to a multitude of independent brands competing for the same customer and shelf space. So,which countries and nationalities are performing best for the brand and where do you see growth coming from?

Karina Behar-Lecuiller (KBL): Hello, Peter. The numbers are easy to state. L’Oréal is the number 1 beauty brand in the world. We are the number 1 in Europe and we are also the number 1 beauty brand in China. We have enjoyed a very good year in North America as well and we are seeing rapid growth in Brazil and emerging markets.

What these figures demonstrate is the solidity of our brand. I believe that in a world filled with uncertainty and fragility. consumers will always be reassured by a brand with such a high reputation and expertise, together with a cutting-edge, scientific background.

Furthermore, with our motto “We Are Worth It”, L’Oréal Paris is totally modern and is anchored in today’s spirit of self-worth.

And finally, in these days of high inflation, we simply offer the best value for money proposition.

PM: Historically – and now – L’Oréal Groupe is known for bringing highly innovative products to market. What are your latest blockbuster launches?

KBL: It is undoubtedly our new serum, Revitalift CLINICAL Vitamin C. This is not a derivative vitamin C like our competition uses – ours is the only 12% derm-grade vitamin C in the market. It is the only one used by dermatologists and the most active for the skin to visibly reverse the three key signs of aging: tone, pores and lines. It’s a great example of our expertise, and it’s also at a very accessible price.

When it comes to make-up, our Telescopic Lift mascara is probably our next best seller. It is fully complementary to our current Travel Retail portfolio and gives your lashes + 5mm length.

PM: Now, a couple of months ago in Cannes at TFWA, you highlighted the brand’s appeal as a beauty democratiser. In a survey you commissioned with 700 passengers, they stated that they would enter an airport Duty Free store to specifically buy L’Oréal Paris make-up product. This product range has been in the TR channel for some time now. What has changed with the brand that it can now become a traffic driver and stopper at airport Duty Free shops?

KBL: Nothing has really changed. In fact it’s the first time we conducted a survey and it confirmed our intuition – we are a traffic driver. And, if we were to look at our performance in volume, we would definitely be owning the Top 3 podium in skincare and make-up for a while.

And everything has changed at the same time, because of the way the brand has elevated its retail expression in our distribution – with a new, sophisticated look and an attractive offer. This is combined with blockbuster launches such as serums or color riche intense volume matte lipsticks.

And given the context of inflation nowadays, we fully play our role by offering accessible luxury and beauty at its best to all travelling passengers.

PM: Looking at the financial results shared by L’Oréal Groupe, it seems that luxury brands have surpassed mass market brands in the group’s revenues, indicating that more and more consumers are onboarding the luxury universe. And Travel Retail is mostly built on luxury brands. What is L’Oréal Paris’s value proposition to consumers and retailers that would recruit new consumers to the brand whilst also creating incremental value to the channel?

KBL: So, on the one hand there is inflation, higher travelling costs and loss of buying power. On the other hand there is revenge travel, the need for reconnection and a desire to indulge that has indeed changed the way passengers shop – they are more willing to find products with the best value for money.

Going back to the survey we commissioned, 13% of travellers answered that their entrance to Duty Free shops was actually motivated by the presence of L’Oréal Paris. And this same survey showed that the brand had the number 1 position. But that is not all because, once passengers had entered because of the brand, more than 2/3 of them also purchased other beauty brands as well L’Oréal Paris. So, not only has L’Oréal Paris clearly driven footfall, the brand is also driving incremental business. It clearly demonstrates that the brand is complementary to the luxury brands on offer and helping the whole industry grow.

PM: Moving on, let’s look at Asia. Here, King Power is just one example of being a very strong partner for the L’Oréal Paris brand. What has been done with this retailer in terms of collaboration that has built such a success story? Are there elements that can be transferred to the rest of your global distribution?

KBL: The strong partnership we have built with King Power allows us to have strategic stores in Thailand where the brand can showcase its best retail expression. It’s always the best situation when a brand can be displayed at its best and be very visible.

As you know, Thailand is among the favourite destinations for Chinese consumers and, as I mentioned previously, L’Oréal Paris is the number 1 brand in China. This equation has led to this strong footprint you are referring to.

PM: So how do you think the brand can build on its current distribution base in Travel Retail?

KBL: It is simple to say. L’Oréal Paris belongs to Travel Retail. We drive footfall, recruit new consumers, increase the basket size and bring incremental business. So, again, it’s all about visibility and location – these two elements combine to be the key to unlocking our brands’ full potential.

PM: I want to move onto something that I know you are passionate about. The Stand Up programme is a great initiative from L’Oréal. What can you tell us about this and how many people have benefited from the programme?

KBL: Well, L’Oréal Paris is in partnership with the NGO Right To Be. Together we have established Stand Up, a brand cause that aims to remove barriers for women and allow them to walk freely and safely in the streets. The programme invites women – and men – to join its training programme with a 5D methodology: Direct, Delegate, Document, Distract, Delay. Effectively to learn how to safely respond or intervene when witnessing or experiencing street harassment. Today, thanks to Stand Up, more than 1 million trainees have been registered worldwide. 

PM: That’s a tremendous result and I hope the programme continues to build awareness and success. One final question, Karina. How would you describe the L’Oréal Paris vision in Travel Retail.

KBL: I would say in one final quote: as beauty democrats, we offer accessible luxury to all travellers!


Peter Marshall

Founder: Arts
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