Stéphane Bérubé: -L'Oréal's New CMO- Digital & Marketing are Equivalent Terms

November 30, 2017

Over the last two years in our office, we have been consistently debating whether brands should keep “digital strategy” as its own separate function, or, if they should integrate what is, in effect, a channel, across their business strategy.


So when we saw Stéphane Bérubé, L’Oréal’s newly appointed head of marketing for the UK announce the press that “brands should not have a digital strategy” we were delighted to see the debate moving to the highest levels of international business.


But, what is his broad point and why should other large brands pay attention at this moment? We decided to break down his key thesis and look at some other thinkers who are advocating for the integration of digital into broader business planning and, even, what does “digital” mean in 2017?


The L’Oréal Group, which is the #1 leading beauty brand commanding ⅓ of the market with 33 brands and 85,000 employees, is a global beauty giant on the planet.


L'oreal brands, lancome, giorgio armani, victor&rolf, yves saint laurent, kiehls, diesel, biotherm, cacharel, makeup, loreal makeup, loreal paris

L’Oréal Group brands


Stéphane Bérubé, L’Oréal’s new chief marketing officer for Western Europe, shared his views on their marketing strategy during a meeting with journalists in London: he made clear where the priorities lie within the company. The top priority for him is the O+O (Offline + Online) strategy which explains how to drive sales for both online and offline. Currently, about 20% of L’Oreal’s sales come through e-commerce channels but the company wants to drive this up.


Bérube claims increasing sales through e-commerce channels could be achieved by stop thinking that e-commerce and shops (brick and mortar) are different. He says that he doesn’t believe they had an online and offline consumer. Marketers should stop setting individual digital priorities.


“We need to stop talking about digital  – it’s part of marketing.”

CMOs now need to have a combination of CDO (Chief Digital Officer) and CTO (Chief Technology Officer) knowledge according to Stéphane Bérubé (from his interview on Data 2015 Marketing). For all aspects of the ecosystem – such as precision marketing, CRM, Social, etc.) in order to drive the strategies and drive change, they need to know the how and to do so, CMOs need to surrounded with data scientists, pure digital talent and in-house technology experts. This is the only way they could be successful in their marketing strategies.


L'Oreal content factory, L'Oreal content factory strategy

L’Oréal Content Factory


“I do not believe we have a digital or traditional customer” Bérubé quotes “we have to stop talking about the digital segment as something separate from marketing because today they are inseparably linked. This is exactly what I want to introduce in the marketing culture of L’Oréal”.


“How do we drive first-time purchases on e-commerce when consumers are not able to experiment the color or touch the product? Augmented Reality enables that.” 

“Augmented Reality, intermediation platforms (such as Uber), everywhere commerce and any technology that will drive personalization should be embraced by CMOs” Bérubé says in an interview in 2015.


Augmented Reality is the set of technologies that enable this alteration of a photo or a live video to add elements, such as makeup, or to replace elements such as the hair to test a new haircut. Here, you can find detail information on L’Oréal Paris Makeup Genius app. 


L'Oreal Paris Makeup Genius App

L’Oréal Paris Makeup Genius App


As he announced in London as an important part of his strategy is based on investing in new technology. L’Oréal Group will offer a more relevant experience on every platform and one of his main objectives will be optimizing marketing activities so that L’Oréal’s offerings are as high as the search engine users’ voice.


“Brands are not using data correctly or know which data is mostly important.” 

Bérubé indicated that he believes companies are currently able to use all user data effectively and that this capability is crucial for reaching the customers on the right channel with the right message.


“The conviction that the new economy driven by data and the limitations to access and use of data is one of the top challenges that marketers face” Bérubé claims. “ According to research, 22% of consumers search by and it is expected to be 40% by the end of 2018. We need to optimise our content to rank very quickly in voice search and this is something we’ve started focusing on. It’s a space where we want to be super relevant” he says.


What are the objectives of this strategy?

  • Building a great e-commerce capability and driving online sales.
  • Gathering rich data of customers: the main objective is to build meaningful data on the customers to create an appropriately personalized relationship with them. This is also about learning from customers, so they can better build new products and innovations.
  • Creating 100% love of the brand and products. This will be possible if they build real, genuine engagement with customers according to Stephan Berube.

Recently Coca Cola’s executive vice president of North America, Sandy  Douglas, had a similar sound: he said marketers should stop thinking about e-commerce as a separate channel, especially with online retailers looking to offline for new opportunities.


It reminds us all the trends of marketing, customer experience, customer loyalty, etc. that we are taking for the future even for next years: AR/VR, chatbots, data-driven marketing will be everywhere.  We are living in the digital transformation age where personalization, power of data and storytelling are crucial for brands. While we are talking all of those, maybe it’s time to get out of the digital versus traditional mindset.