Headquartered in the suburbs of Paris, L’Oreal is the world’s largest beauty company. Its mission is to create the beauty that moves the world. With a portfolio spanning luxury, professional, mass market, and active cosmetics, L’Oreal helps hundreds of millions of men and women feel good about themselves. Today, the company is present in more than 150 countries around the world.
“In recent years, we’ve seen the Asia market drive strong growth for the L'Oreal business,” says May Ng, Chief Digital Officer for the L’Oreal luxury division in the Asia Pacific region. “What is unique about our customers in Asia is that they are digitally savvy and often online, so to support our growth in Asia, we spend much of our marketing budget to connect and engage with them online.”
Even though many customers discover and interact with the brand digitally, the majority of sales for L’Oreal’s luxury products occur offline, in stores. This fragmented journey made it difficult for L’Oreal’s marketing team to connect its digital marketing investment to the return it was receiving through offline sales. The team believed if it could better connect the customer journey, it would be able to understand which groups of people were most likely to purchase in stores.
L’Oreal turned to its account team at Google for a potential solution. The Google team suggested L’Oreal use an approach that relied on two platforms L’Oreal was already using, Google Marketing Platform and Google Cloud. With this approach L’Oreal could focus its marketing campaigns to reach only the highest potential customers who were likely to purchase in stores.
Bridging the online to offline gap
L’Oreal decided to test this new solution in Taiwan. “The Taiwan Luxury Division is one of the most advanced users of data and technology at L’Oreal,” says Mandy Hon, Chief Digital Officer for the L’Oreal Luxury Division in Taiwan. “Plus the team was eager and ready to launch this initial test.”
First, L’Oreal needed a way they could analyze online activity measured in its Analytics 360 account and offline sales activity measured in its CRM system, together in a single tool without using any personally identifiable information. The team decided to use BigQuery, Google Cloud’s fully managed and scalable data warehouse.
Using the BigQuery export feature, L’Oreal was able to quickly export its website data from Analytics 360 to BigQuery. And once L’Oreal added its offline sales, Mandy and team were ready to start analyzing the data. Through their analysis, they found that people typically visit their website 14 days before going into a store to make a purchase.
Gaining predictive insights from Cloud
Mandy’s team then used AutoML, a suite of machine learning products within Google Cloud that helps developers train high-quality models specific to their business needs. AutoML allowed them to use their data to train custom machine learning models and instantly move from rule-based to predictive automated insights.
In order to understand patterns between the behaviors of users online and their purchases offline, the team used AutoML to analyze two months worth of Analytics 360 and CRM data. This method discovered patterns which then provided prediction scores for people who had visited their website would be most likely to go in-store to purchase in the following two weeks.
“Google Cloud helped us automatically determine which visitors are most likely to later purchase in our stores, says Mandy.” This was a much more efficient way to determine which audience we needed to reach.”
In order to import these prediction scores into Analytics 360, L’Oreal used the query time import feature in Analytics 360. The feature also helped L’Oreal use the prediction scores from AutoML to automatically create new audiences directly in Analytics 360.
Reaching the right audiences
With the audiences created in Analytics 360, it was easy for L’Oreal to share them with two Google advertising products, Display & Video 360 and Google Ads. Now, L’Oreal could build marketing campaigns to reach only those audiences and help drive more sales.
Using Display & Video 360, L’Oreal built a video ads campaign to reach their intended audience with an upper funnel message. And then for a more specific message, Mandy and team built a campaign in Google Ads that would later reach the audience with display ads to drive offline actions.
In addition to reaching their intended audience, L’Oreal was also able to expand their reach and engage with people who exhibited similar characteristics online. L’Oreal discovered new audiences they could reach through Similar Audiences and the Audience Expansion feature in Google Ads.
By using both Display & Video 360 and Google Ads, L’Oreal reached people most likely to purchase at multiple points in the customer journey and kept them engaged with different ad formats. At the end of the pilot project, offline revenue from these campaigns increased by 2.5x and the Return on Advertising Spend grew 2.2x.
A scalable success
The company has set ambitious goals for all its global teams to think bigger when it comes to digital. Currently, Mandy is working with teams across the company to replicate the strategy piloted in Taiwan.
“The successful results from our L’Oreal Taiwan team have inspired our other L’Oreal teams around the world.”
, Chief Digital Officer, Luxe APAC L'Oréal