Design Mind frogcast Ep.44 - Powering Beauty Tech: L'Oréal's Transformation

Our Guests: Béatrice Dautzenberg, Global Director of Beauty Tech Services, L'Oréal; Stéphane Lannuzel, Beauty Tech Program Director, L'Oréal; Charlotte Pierron-Perles, Executive Vice President and Managing Director of Intelligent Industry, Capgemini Invent

On this episode of the Design Mind frogcast, we’re talking about the intersection of beauty and technology. How has world-class beauty brand L’Oréal, with 115 years of experience selling products on a global scale, transformed itself into a tech powerhouse standing beside tech giants like LG and Samsung? By ushering in the future of Beauty Tech. Today we’re joined by leaders from L’Oréal Groupe to talk orienting around customer needs, as well as using emerging technology like GenAI and augmented reality to power new services—all while pioneering at the crossroads of innovation and sustainability.

Listen to the podcast episode and watch the full video below. You can also find the Design Mind frogcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotifyand anywhere you listen to podcasts. 

Episode Transcript:

Design Mind frogcast
Episode 44: Powering Beauty Tech: L’Oréal’s Transformation
Guests: Béatrice Dautzenberg, Global Director of Beauty Tech Services, L’Oréal; Stéphane Lannuzel, Beauty Tech Program Director, L’Oréal; Charlotte Pierron-Perles, Executive Vice President and Managing Director of Intelligent Industry, Capgemini Invent

[00:09] Elizabeth Wood: Welcome to the Design Mind frogcast. Each episode, we go behind the scenes to meet the people designing what’s next in the world of products, services and experiences, both here at frog and far, far outside the pond. I’m Elizabeth Wood.

[00:24] Elizabeth Wood: Today on our show, we’re talking about the intersection of beauty and technology. To do this, we’re joined by Charlotte Pierron-Perles, Executive Vice President and Managing Director of Intelligent Industry at Capgemini Invent, in conversation with two leaders at L’Oréal who are ushering in a new era for the organization and for the beauty industry overall. You’re going to hear from Béatrice Dautzenberg, Global Director of Beauty Tech, and Stéphane Lannuzel, Beauty Tech Program Director, to learn about driving transformation at the scale of L’Oréal, embracing new tech like GenAI and augmented reality to deliver next-level products and services, and how to do all this while keeping a guiding focus on sustainability and inclusivity. Fresh off their wave of award wins, special announcements and keynote talks at the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas, L’Oréal is making big waves in the world of design, data, tech and manufacturing of consumer products. Here they share their learnings from driving this change inside and outside the business. So, let’s jump in.

[01:26] Charlotte Pierron-Perles: Hello everyone, I am Charlotte Pierron-Perles, Executive Vice President and Managing Director of Intelligent Industry at Capgemini Invent. I am extremely proud to be joined today by Béatrice Dautzenberg and Stéphane Lannuzel, two leaders from L’Oréal Groupe that are driving company-wide transformation and pushing the beauty industry forward. This podcast is taking place right after the CES at Las Vegas, putting emphasis on how much being a leader in beauty implies being a leader in Beauty Tech. That means how leveraging technologies may help to develop more efficient innovation, more inclusive beauty and a more sustainable one. Thank you very much, Stéphane and Béatrice, for being with us today. Maybe to start, could you please introduce yourself. State your name and what you are doing?

[02:19] Béatrice Dautzenberg: Hello, Charlotte. So I’m Béatrice Dautzenberg. I’m the Global Director of Beauty Tech service at L’Oréal within the CDMO. I have 20 years of experience at L’Oréal in marketing and sales in general management working in six countries. And maybe for people listening, you know, I want to name some of the fantastic brands that the L’Oréal Groupe has, such as L’Oréal Paris, Garnier, Maybelline that are sold in mass market, but also luxury brands such as Lancôme, Yves Saint Laurent, Armani, Kiehl’s, for example. We have also brands that are distributed in pharmacies, drugstores, like La Roche Posay, CeraVe or Vichy, or brands sold in salons, such as L’Oréal Professional, Kératsase, Redken and Matrix. And, of course, all these brands you can also find them online.

[03:11] Charlotte Pierron-Perles: Thank you, Béatrice. Please, Stéphane, could you say a few words?

[03:15] Stéphane Lannuzel: So hello, Charlotte, thank you for having us. So I’m Stéphane Lannuzel. I’m the Beauty Tech Program Director. I’ve been 10 years in L’Oréal, you know, with different positions in operation, in digital transformation. But since 2018, I’m the Beauty Tech Program Director, so I often refer to myself as the number two employee of Beauty Tech because Beauty Tech as we will see is an adventure, is a journey for L’Oréal. And it’s really bringing tech at the heart of L’Oréal’s strategy. And doing that at the scale of L’Oréal. You know, when Béatrice mentioned the 37 brands we have, but it’s also 40 factories, 7 billion so it’s a massive boat and we are transforming that with tech to make sure that we lead Beauty Tech as we have been leading the beauty industry for many years.

[04:00] Charlotte Pierron-Perles: It’s really a company adventure and a wide transformation. We will deep dive a bit more. Maybe first question for you both, what is the number one impact you hope to have in your current role.

[04:13] Béatrice Dautzenberg: So first, you know, with Beauty Tech, we aim at solving consumer tensions. We aim at creating value for all. When we say value for all, it’s for consumers, for brands, for retailers, for partners, and of course one of the stakeholders is the planet and society where we also want to have a positive impact. So today it is a fact consumers have totally adopted technology into our daily life. You know if I think, for example, about health, you know monitoring tools, biology at home are expanding and beauty is actually the same. And Beauty Tech has totally integrated into beauty. Why is that? It’s because 70% of customers are telling us that they are lost when they face an ocean of choices. And it’s with Beauty Tech services that we are yearning to solve this issue and to bring them recommendations, diagnostics and to guide them through that journey. So this is what we do at L’Oréal. Our main goal, our main impact that we want to have, is to create beauty for each, at scale.

[05:19] Charlotte Pierron-Perles: Such a huge impact. Thank you, Béatrice. Stéphane, same question to you.

[05:24] Stéphane Lannuzel: For me, it was really to put technology at the heart of our strategy at the Comex table. You know, we’ve been using IT for many years. But now we are moving from IT to technology—using technology to invent new services as Béatrice has explained, but also to power our employees because they need to use technology, they need to use data, they need to use artificial intelligence to make decisions, to innovate. We have augmented our employees with technology. It’s why, you know, one of the key outputs of the Beauty Tech program is to make sure that all the 88,000 employees of loyal are embracing technical technology and at ease with technology. And that’s really the impact that we are trying to make—moving from IT being a support function to technology being at the heart of L’Oréal’s transformation, and at the heart of all our discussions.

[06:15] Charlotte Pierron-Perles: I know how much this point is important at L’Oréal, and I know you will be back on this a bit later. Let’s now talk about how L’Oréal is making waves in the consumer space and influencing other sectors with its evolution toward Beauty Tech. Stéphane, first, what is Beauty Tech at L’Oréal very concretely? And how was it evolved already starting a few years ago? And maybe second question for you, how has L’Oréal expanded its focus towards world-class beauty products to becoming really a next generation Beauty tech powerhouse?

[06:49] Stéphane Lannuzel: So let me rewind a little bit and give you the genesis of the Beauty Tech program. Digital transformation at L’Oréal started in 2010. So we have been pioneering in the digital transformation with the development of eCommerce, moving from 0% to 30% business on eComm, moving from mass media to precision advertising, and also having brands that are very active on social media. So that was the digital transformation. And we pioneered that. And we led that for the beauty industry. But in 2018, we also realized that it could go beyond digital transformation and that technology will impact massively the beauty industry by enabling us to develop new services for our consumers, but also augmenting our employees to innovate faster and to make more educated and data-driven decisions.

[07:38] Stéphane Lannuzel: So the way we started was really to listen to all the tech giants and the tech players. And you know, I remember that we had some discussion with the top management of Capgemini to really see what was their vision on how technology will disrupt beauty. And it’s why we’ve embarked into that transformation to Beauty Tec, which is a large-scale, global transformation for the entire company with the motto to invent the beauty of the future, while transforming the company of the future. And that symmetry of attention is key because it’s both for consumers, but it is also for our employees. And we are embracing all types of technologies to create that disruption in beauty. And we’ve been working on that for the past five years, and really been building the foundations to enable that transformation at scale. We’ve been inventing new services and Béatrice will come back on to that. What I can tell you is that it has enabled us to convince people that we’ve we’ve been in the in the beauty industry doing cosmetics, topical products, for under 115 years. And now we are doing services and services are also really at the heart of L’Oréal’s beauty offering. We’ve just mentioned that during the keynote of the CES during the introduction. So basically services and developing new services for all consumers is also key.

[09:02] Charlotte Pierron-Perles: You’ve delivered a lot over the last five years. What are concretely the challenges that have been overcome?

[09:10] Stéphane Lannuzel: I think the first challenge was really to convince people. You know, we are a manufacturer, we are a marketing company, and saying that tech was as key, as marketing, as key as research and innovation was the first challenge. And to make sure that we, as I said earlier, we bring tech to the board discussion, to the Comex discussion. So that was the first challenge, but we had a strong sponsorship.

[09:37] Stéphane Lannuzel: The second challenge was really to also attract new talent, to upskill our employees in being masters of tech, but in a positive way. You know, embracing tech and saying, “Okay, what are the opportunities that it creates?” And doing that very open-minded but also in co-creation. So working with external partners, tech giants and startups. So the main challenge was really, really that too. And then the challenge is that you have to do it at the scale of L’Oréal. You know, it’s easy to do a proof of concept or pilot to showcase, to shine with one service or with one solution. Doing that, you know, at the scale of a group like L’Oréal. L’Oréal is the leader in the beauty industry with a turnover of over 38 billion in 2022. So that’s, for me, the two challenges and I can tell you that after five years, I think we’ve covered quite a way.

[10:34] Charlotte Pierron-Perles: Thank you, Stéphane. You mention quite a lot of concrete innovation to employees. Let’s deep dive maybe in the field of consumers. What is Beauty Tech offering to consumers more concretely?

[10:43] Béatrice Dautzenberg: So we have a portfolio of Beauty Tech services that are here to really help consumers at the precise moment of their shopping journey. So, to give you an example, you know, the first one is when you are in the discovery phase. Imagine you are looking for a skincare routine, you can’t see a dermatologist right now and you are looking for help. You can take your smartphone, and with the help of a selfie, you take three selfies, and thanks to a powerful algorithm, thanks to a fantastic data set of more than 150,000 images by annotation, by a dermatologist, we are able to give you a clear diagnostic of your skin, and to recommend you with the right product. So we really strive at doing diagnostics and really guiding people in the whole thing. So this is a first example, you know, of services that you can find, for example, on La Roche Posay. We have a great service on acne, for example.

[11:47] Béatrice Dautzenberg: A second pillar, you know, is when you want to buy a product, but you are online, so it’s not very easy to try a makeup shade or lipstick, for example, or to find the right foundation. And here thanks to, again, augmented reality, you can with your cell phone, try different shades of product. And this product is loved by consumers, actually. This is a service, you know, that is the biggest at L’Oréal and it really helps to drive conversion. It shows that it brings a key value both for the brand, as a consumer, but also for our partner retailers.

[12:20] Béatrice Dautzenberg: And we see more and more a new generation of service, which is more looking at long-term, whether it’s looking to predict your beauty trajectory. For example, you can even now try a skin product and see what would be the effect of anti-dark spot product on your skin. And you can also think about coaching. For example, again, on acne, we have data that shows that 50% of what we call the ‘passumers’ are giving up the treatment before the end. And because we know that equal observance of treatment equals performance, we really want to help. And thanks to cognitive science, thanks to coaching, people are following their treatment. We have today a range of services, more than 100 million services last year in 2023 to help our consumer, to guide them really, to help them see the result and to coach them. And this is just the beginning. We are just five years in and I think the future is very bright.

[13:21] Charlotte Pierron-Perles: Thank you, Béatrice. This is very much in depth in the beauty routine of each consumer—very useful, by the way for the teenagers we may have at home as well. Regarding those services, what is your vision on how Beauty Tech is really shaping the future of beauty?

[13:36] Béatrice Dautzenberg: We have been learning a lot, you know, as a five-years old, as Stéphane said, Beauty Tech company while we are 115 years in cosmetics. So, it’s a journey. Our first services were more one-off services. You know, you want to try a lipstick, you try it, and that’s it. Now we want to move to longer term relationships. Think maybe you were talking about a teenager, you know, facing acne too and not feeling well in their skin. Think about, you know, a man or woman preparing for first date and looking for the best look. Think about life changes, life moments, like maternity, menopause, or it could be disease where you’re looking for help on how to adapt your routine. It could be also hair loss, for example, for men.

[14:23] Béatrice Dautzenberg: At all of these moments, you know, you have this kind of beauty dilemma and we don’t want you to be left alone. So our view is, of course, together with the pros that you may have in your life, you know, the hairdressers, the dermatologists, the beauty advisor, we also want for consumers going, for example, in supermarkets to have an always-on beauty companion. So this is what we strive to create—a Beauty Tech service that’s like a beauty companion that will care for you at every stage of your life. So for us the future of beauty is this lifelong vision and the real-time moments. So we did a partnership, I will give you an example, with Breezometer, who is a company that is monitoring the weather, the pollution, you know, what we call ‘exposome,’ and we are able to integrate this real-time data into our services to recommend you with the best routine of products. So real-time, lifelong, you know, a new beauty companion. This is the future of beauty for L’Oréal.

[15:25] Charlotte Pierron-Perles: Very clear, very concrete. And it’s very much about connection, real-time moments. If we think about the ecosystem itself, how is Beauty Tech at L’Oréal impacting the retail ecosystem and as well, your partnership with the retailers?

[15:39] Béatrice Dautzenberg: At the beginning, you had more services that were there, you know. Now we are all thinking about journey and what we call a continuum: a seamless experience wherever you are. So, of course, more and more, you know, we are having a connected retailer, connected hairdressers, connected pharmacies or department stores and we are working with them. One of the ways for us to be able to connect it and to integrate seamlessly service is with QR code. So at L’Oréal, you know, Stéphane’s team developed a fantastic technology called Resolver technology that is helping us to stay connected with consumers. So with a flash, on your smartphone, you are able to access a range of services, of education, of tutorials, of information on ingredients. And I think this is the next frontier—to be able to provide Beauty Tech services to consumers wherever they are. So of course this require deep partnership, trust and frame with retailers. For example, when we talk about data, you know, and we have a strict respect of data privacy at L’Oréal. So how do we bring added value to consumers? This is key.

[16:49] Charlotte Pierron-Perles: Thank you, Béatrice. Lots to learn on your journey. Let’s now deep dive. These changes at L’Oréal are no doubt having a big impact for consumers, for partners and as well behind the scenes. Let’s explore with the outcomes, the lessons learned from you driving this transformation with your employees for your consumers. Béatrice, first, how is this change influencing the culture at L’Oréal?

[17:14] Béatrice Dautzenberg: So, I think first we had a good ground, a good cultural ground at L’Oréal. One of our mottos has always been “seizing what is starting.” And for sure, you know, with tech integrating in life of people you know, this is something that L’Oréal loves to really embrace fully. As Stéphane said, you know, over the last decade, we have been embracing eCommerce, we have been embracing social media platforms today. And of course now, Beauty Tech is part of this full evolution. And so I think this “seizing what is starting” culture is something that has worked very well.

[17:53] Béatrice Dautzenberg: I think a second element of our culture that resonates especially well with developing tech products is the spirit of poets and peasants. So at L’Oréal, we really value this kind of left brain, right brain, this balance between the human and the tech, between the vision and the actions, between the dream of perfection but also the need to act and to iterate. So, I do think that L’Oréal culture is really a great match with Beauty Tech. With tech products, you need to put the product as soon as possible in the hands of customers and to learn and to iterate many times, you know? When you develop a formula in the labs, you need to take time to have a good, safe, great prototype to put in hands of the consumer. So, that’s some change. And I think this is great. This is something that is very positive, you know, for L’Oréal culture.

[18:46] Charlotte Pierron-Perles: It’s really more than delivering new world-class products. It’s about developing meaningful, long-lasting relationships with consumers and a lot of new services. How did you succeed to make it real?

[19:00] Béatrice Dautzenberg: I think the way we succeed is by trying, you know, and learning. I think it’s a great posture. So one of the bigger focuses we had last year was really to simplify our product and service portfolio. So you have some services that were working super well, and you have some services that were great for image, but when we look to data, and to what consumers tell us and the business impact, you know, some services were not delivering the best value. So what we decided is to really streamline our portfolio of services to the big hero services.

[19:32] Béatrice Dautzenberg: And also what we are doing, you know, is really making the most of the data. So, at the beginning, the services were one of delivering value straightaway. For example, helping you to choose your lipstick shade. Now, what we are doing is integrating all this information when the consumer chooses to do so, so that we can personalize that journey post-purchase. For example, you know, when you receive an SMS or an email, you don’t want to receive an advertising on Blond Absolu Kerastase if you’re a brunette. You know, it’s all about relevancy. It’s all about feeling recognized. And I think this is something that we are really working a lot on. The second element, I think you talk about it is this notion of relationship. And I’m very excited by the launch of the Beauty Genius from L’Oréal Paris this year because it will allow us to have intimate conversations with consumers. Some people are telling us that they are not always comfortable to talk to people and they would have loved to ask some questions to a Beauty Genius, and this is what will be possible. So, very exciting times.

[20:39] Charlotte Pierron-Perles: Thank you, Béatrice. We see that the mix of really great beauty products, leveraging data, leveraging artificial intelligence, UX design and the deep knowledge of your business will deliver a lot to consumers and employees. What are you personally the most proud of?

[20:57] Béatrice Dautzenberg: What I’m the proudest of could be first the team. I think, together with Stéphane because it’s really a collaborative work, we have developed a team of really talented people. We’re shifting the organization to become the Beauty Tech company of the next decade, with strong UX perspective, stronger tech expertise. Also, collaborating with all of the organization. For Beauty Tech services to succeed you need to be fully integrated with research and innovation, to the tech, to the marketing people at a global level in brand but also at local level in market. As well as a partner, whether the Walmart of Carrefour of this world, or a salon in your village. This is a collaboration I think that I’m the proudest of. I think this is what allowed us to reach one hundred million last year. And this is what is allowing us to be pioneering a generative AI project like Beauty Genius with the right frame.

[21:56] Charlotte Pierron-Perles: Thank you, Béatrice. You mentioned partnership. Stéphane, what is the role of partnerships and what does strategic collaboration bring to L’Oréal in that context of Beauty Tech?

[22:06] Stéphane Lannuzel: I think in that Beauty Tech transformation we’ve learned and we’ve realized how it is important to partner with startups, with tech giants, with strategic partners. Because we are good, and we have been doing that for 115 years, which is to design, to develop, to produce and to ship physical products. But now we are into the services, we’re in the digital products era. And for that, we’ve realized that, you know, there are a lot of different skills that we were missing. And it’s only by finding the right skill with the right partners that we were able to crack that both to upskill our internal workforce, but also to benefit from the creativity, from the knowledge of the external world.

[22:50] Stéphane Lannuzel: And in the digital world, in the digital product world, it’s about product management, it’s about design, it’s about data science and it’s about technology. And we are partnering, selecting very cautiously, the type of partners we work with. And let me give you one example, which is one we’ve been working on with Capgemini and frog, which is the augmented product. Béatrice mentioned it. It’s a very simple technology. It’s about putting a QR code on each of the products, scanning that and then making the bridge between the physical products that we know and the digital world, and opening a lot of experiences for our consumers. And for that, you know, we’ve been working with designers. Because designing consumer experience, it’s a very specific task. Listening to them on what they want, what they feel, it’s also something that we didn’t really know doing for digital services.

[23:44] Stéphane Lannuzel: Then also working with, you know, the tech part because we are operating in almost all the countries in the world. And being able when you scan a product, wherever you are to get the right experience, it’s a bit of a challenge. And we’ve been working together on that. For us, this is how we see partnership. Because in the end, what is important to deliver these products, being services for our consumers or applications for our employees, is you need the best performing team with the best talent, you know. As in a startup, you select the team you want to work with the talent. And that, we fully believe that it’s being open to the external world that we will always be able to select the best team, the winning team, and that’s how we approach our partnerships with the external world. Which is a bit new. You know, for L’Oréal culturally, we were more closed. But, you know, since a few years now, we are open and working with a lot of partners.

[24:39] Charlotte Pierron-Perles: Stéphane, it’s three years that we are working together at the Beauty Tech. Based on this path, what are already the lessons learned from the consumers regarding the value proposition of the Beauty Tech?

[24:52] Stéphane Lannuzel: I think, you know, as Béatrice mentioned, for me, the testimony of what we have achieved for consumers is the adoption of our services that we have put on the market. It’s 100 million services usage in 2023. So, you know, it’s a lot at scale. It’s the breadth of the type of services that we have been developing and how these different services are embedded in all the touch points in the retailers environment, on our eCommerce site and through applications. So basically, we track and measure the adoption of our services. And we also measure the value that it creates, helping the conversion on eComm, for example, the data that we can gather through the services. And I can tell you that for each of the services that we have been developing, it really creates strong value. It helps consumers as Béatrice has explained, but it also helps us to be better–-to be better in delivering services.

[25:50] Stéphane Lannuzel: But also what is very important, is to be better at developing cosmetic products because we use a lot of knowledge from the services to see what are the new trends. I’ll give you one concrete example. We have developed an application where we can listen in real time to all the reviews and ratings that the consumers are leaving on a retailer site. So it’s more than 150 million that we process real time and give our teams—the marketing, the researchers, real-time feedback of what consumers are thinking of the products. Good things, bad things, and we use that to work. So I can tell you that every single service or application that we have developed within the Beauty Tech transformation is really impacting L’Oréal and changing the way we shape the beauty industry.

[26:26] Charlotte Pierron-Perles: You delivered and achieved a lot, a lot of insightful data to measure how much you are successful in that journey. From a more personal point of view, what are you the proudest of so far?

[26:48] Stéphane Lannuzel: That’s always a tough question because, you know, then you think of the different products and it’s like, you know, being asked to choose between your kids, which I won’t do.

[26:58] Charlotte Pierron-Perles: And it’s not what I am asking by the way (laughs).

[27:00] Stéphane Lannuzel: And I know and so it’s why, what I’m the most proud of, is really the scale of the transformation. Because, you know, when I started and when I accepted that mission of leading the Beauty Tech journey, it was two words. It was a blank page. And we could have gone the way of okay, showcasing a few proof of concepts, you know, shining with with a few objects. But the task was different. The task was to be the number one Beauty Tech company at the scale of L’Oréal. And it’s only five years after that that I really realized that we have been able to do it at the scale of L’Oréal. That, you know, maybe all the 88,000 employees of L’Oréal now understand what Beauty Tech is, what they can do for beauty. We’ve also build some strong foundations, like data platforms, like APIs, portals, which were very new when we started on that, but we’ve done that at the scale of L’Oréal. So, you know, if I have one thing to really be proud of is that, which is we’ve been able to do it at the scale of a group like like L’Oréal. I think we are really the number one Beauty Tech company. And as I said, for me, the best testimony of that, you know, we have been selected by the CES as the first consumer good, the first French, the first FMCG company, to be at the opening keynote of the CES. So it means that we’ve done it at scale, and we’ve done it at the scale of L’Oréal.

[28:28] Elizabeth Wood: We’re going to take a short break. When we return, you’ll hear more from L’Oréal on the future of Beauty Tech.


[28:37] Jeff Hebert: Hi I’m Jeff Hebert, Global Head of Intelligent Products and Services, Intelligent Industry at Capgemini Invent, as well as president of Synapse Product Development and the lead author of frog’s latest Chief Challenges report ‘Making Connectivity Matter.’ Featuring insights by industry experts from across the Capgemini Invent family, including frog and Synapse, and with real world case studies, including Nestlé Purina and Volvo, this report breaks down the changing landscape of challenges and opportunities associated with creating connected products and services. Together, we explore the significant value that connectivity can bring and share perspectives on the ways businesses can successfully journey into increasingly intelligent offerings. Read the report to learn about building the connected products and services and ecosystems of tomorrow. Check this episode’s show notes for a link to download ‘Making Connectivity Matter.’

[29:34] Elizabeth Wood: Now back to our conversation between Charlotte Pierron-Perles of frog and Capgemini Invent, with Béatrice Dautzenberg and Stéphane Lannuzel from L’Oréal.

[29:44] Charlotte Pierron-Perles: We are hearing that it’s much more than a program. It’s really a mission. And you just mentioned it by investing year after year in connected and more personalized beautyL’Oréal has been recognized as a concrete, real tech partner. Having Nicolas Hieronimus onstage at the side of Barbara Lavernos, revealing numerous innovations making accessible to the large let’s say public really, shift L’Oréal into a different category, making L’Oréal a tech giant. And I assume by investing a bit more in tech, compared to research that is at the heart of L’Oréal for years, with a bit more than 1 billion Euros a year if I’m right, I expect that a lot more will come on data, on artificial intelligence, on robotization. Could you tell us a bit more about what might come next? And maybe with you, Béatrice, first, could you come back to the innovation reveal at the CES and explain the benefits for consumers, employees and the ecosystem itself?

[30:51] Béatrice Dautzenberg: Thank you. So, yes, I was lucky to attend this fantastic CES keynote by our CEO Nicolas Hieronimus. So the first time the conference keynote is made by a beauty company, of course making us very proud. It’s not a surprise for us because L’Oréal has been attending CES for the last 10 years, you know, earning many innovation awards. Actually, just after LG and Samsung, L’Oréal is in the third position in terms of innovation awards. Again, this year seven awards have been won.

[31:22] Béatrice Dautzenberg: So during this conference, Nicolas Hieronimus and Barbara talked first about the essentiality of beauty. You know, from Homo Erectus in the cave to TikTok today, with billions of impressions, billions of searches on Google. Today we see that beauty is an essential need. And Beauty Tech is there to continue to serve these beauty needs to you know actually at scale. So I will maybe focus on just two innovations that has been revealed because they were many at CES. You know that L’Oréal is producing digital services, but we are also producing beauty devices, like for example the Steampod from L’Oréal Professional that has been on the market for years. And this year we revealed a strong innovation called AirLight Pro, which is a fantastic hair dryer for consumers that will help to achieve better hair or, you know, more hydrated, smoother visibly, but also to save time and up to 30% energy, which is super important.

[32:23] Béatrice Dautzenberg: So, if you think about it, the way that the professional product division of L’Oréal is using tech, we have been launching and actually acquiring Gjosa, which is a company that is saving water thanks to a showerhead that has a unique technology that can help you to save 69% of water in salons, but also at home. And now we are saving energy thanks to AirLight Pro, while also it’s a unique technology, I will explain, while at the same time having a better effect on your hair. So what is this technology? Again it’s a partnership with Zuvi, who is a fantastic startup that has expertise you know in optic, that has expertise in wind because they used to do drones, and thanks to their expertise on our professional expertise, you know, we have been able with a team of one hundred experts to build this unique technology. So how does it work? Imagine in the morning, when you have a little water outside, how does it dry? It dries with the infrared light of the sun and also with the wind. And we replicate this technology, in this AirLight Pro. More than 150 patents has been filled. It’s a very exciting new technology that will be available in L’Oréal Professional salons from mid-year. So, this is to show you that with the LGs and Samsungs of this world that L’Oréal is also a tech company regarding objects and regarding devices.

[33:49] Béatrice Dautzenberg: And then when you think about digital services that we have been talking to, thanks to generative AI, we are able to push a boundary and we are creating for L’Oréal Paris. So imagine the number one beauty brand of the world you know, 1 billion consumers that are today shopping in the self -service environment. When you enter a supermarket, when you are online, you know, you are in a self-service environment and a lot of consumers are asking for help. And for them, we are providing a Beauty Genius so with your smartphone, you will be able to access this beauty companion and to ask any question regarding the makeup you want to have. If you want to see tutorials, if you want to know what is inside of a product, you know, there is more than 750 products that have been put into the database. And we also integrate you know our Beauty Tech service, virtual try-on, diagnostic on every category, whether we talk about hair color, hair care, makeup or skincare, you will have it all into your Beauty Genius. And what we discovered and what I must say I’m really proud of, is the art of the beauty conversation. This Beauty Genius has been trained with all the data we have from our customer care, all the learning we have been having from our beauty advisor database of 750 products, to be able to provide the best advice to beauty consumers and lovers.

[35:18] Charlotte Pierron-Perles: I feel that this Beauty Genius will be soon my best friend for sure. And Béatrice you mentioned the contribution of L’Oréal developing new services, developing new connected physical products that support you in your day-to-day routine. I know how much contributing to developing a more inclusive beauty is something important at L’Oréal. Sustainability is really at the core of it. Could you describe a bit what is the contribution of Beauty Tech to L’Oréal’s sustainable commitments?

[35:51] Béatrice Dautzenberg: For sure, so we discussed just before how to save water, how to save energy, you know, with Gjosa showerheads in salons and the AirLight Pro, you know, which is a hair dryer that will be available in salons and at home. So this is a first example for energy and the respect of the planet. For inclusivity, you know, what is important for us is to bring the best of beauty to all. We have developed a tool, and I want to name one actually that has received an award last year at CES, which is HAPTA from Lancôme. Today, more than 50 million people have mobility issues with their hand and thanks to HAPTA, also to artificial intelligence that can be used to stabilize movements, we have been able to develop, a new tool to help you apply makeup without stabilizing it. We can see when the women using this Lancôme device share their experiences that they are really thrilled and empowered to be able to have their beauty makeup journey and routine again. This is the power of inclusivity and this is the power of HAPTA.

[36:53] Béatrice Dautzenberg: So here again, we talk about a device for a digital service. We are working on the accessibility of services. For example, in the US with a partner called Level Up to make sure that we provide the best accessibility and user experience to all. And we have made progress, but I still think we can do better and we are really engaged on this topic.

[37:13] Charlotte Pierron-Perles: Very concrete, very exciting as well, Béatrice. Maybe, Stéphane, to complement still on the sustainability front, what is the key contribution of Beauty Tech to the overall sustainable value chain of L’Oréal? And what are the implications for the ecosystem at scale?

[37:30] Stéphane Lannuzel: So when we think about sustainability, we’ve structured our approach, our technological approach, with two axes: tech for sustainability and sustainable tech. Let me start with tech for sustainability. Béatrice mentioned already the Gjosa example. But let me give you other elements. One of the key transformations of the beauty industry is moving into the biotech and moving into the green tech. You know, using ingredients that are sourced from nature, that are renewable. And that’s where technology is helping us because we are launching 8,000 products per year, 8,000 new formulas. So at the same time, we need to innovate, but also to renew our ingredients portfolio and our formula portfolio. And it’s only because we have been able to develop digital formulations. So formulation, leveraging algorithms to be able to determine what is the best formula that we can do that at the speed that is required.

[38:26] Stéphane Lannuzel: So we have augmented our researchers so that they can use algorithms to find the right formula. Another element where we are using technology is on supply chain optimization. You know, supply chain is more and more complex. We have the fragmentation of the supply chains. For example, in China, we are leveraging artificial intelligence to do demand forecasting and also supply chain optimization. So, to locate the inventory in the best position, in our distribution center, in our factories and within our suppliers to be able to serve our consumers in a more sustainable way.

[39:03] Stéphane Lannuzel: Sustainable tech is also key, because you know, we are all excited about digital transformation technology, but we have also to recognize that technology has some impact on our sustainability trajectory. So we are working a lot with strong commitment to really reduce the impact of our technology. First, working with our key partners and the Cloud provider and asking them, you know, very tangible, measurable impact of all the solutions that we develop and how we can work with them to reduce the impact. But we also are working with our employees, you know, telling them what is the sustainable impact or the environmental impact of their technology. As we’ve done before with our travel impact, now we’ve received our technological, digital impact as employees with a lot of tips to reduce that. So, for me, it’s very important because you know, as we promote the Beauty Tech transformation, as we promote technology, often questions on is it compatible with the sustainable goals of L’Oréal? And I think it’s very important to reconcile the two, which is that technology will help us to achieve our sustainable goal but we will also make some efforts in making technology more sustainable.

[40:20] Charlotte Pierron-Perles: You are very much putting employees in the driver’s seat on making it sustainable at large. Very interesting. Stéphane, you already start your Generative AI journey. Béatrice was mentioning the Beauty Genius that is a good example of it. What are the biggest evolutions you expect on the AI engineering front? And what are the implications in terms of governance, organization, competency? This is a big shift.

[40:47] Stéphane Lannuzel: It’s true that last year we’ve been hit by the GenAI tsunami. And for all the people that have been in AI, there was first a little bit of a surprise, I have to admit. But also, for me a strong opportunity because AI and GenAI was now in Davos last year and still this year. So AI is in everybody’s mouth, which is good because that has enabled us to really put AI as a key enabler of our future strategy. But we have also to be careful with these big hype waves. And I can tell you that the first decision that we make at the Group level on GenAI, was to say, “These are the dos and don’ts.” So the first thing that we did was say, “Okay, you can do that. But you are not allowed to do that as an employee of L’Oréal.” Because we strongly believe that, and I will come back to it, that there are a lot of opportunities, but you also have to be careful and to understand, you know, what are the downside or the potential pitfalls of this type of technology.

[41:52] Stéphane Lannuzel: But to start on the positive side, I’m truly a tech optimist. GenAI for a company like L’Oréal is about creation, marketing creation. We produce so much content and GenAI is enabling us to do that probably faster, in a more innovative way, to explore new territories, to combine new skills. So it’s augmenting our marketing people. But I still believe that in the end, you know, it’s the human touch that will make the difference. So it’s why I talk about augmentation. And I don’t believe that GenAI, you know, there won’t be like GenAI robots doing marketing instead of marketing people. I’m a strong believer of the augmented marketer. So in the creative space, obviously, it will help us to be stronger.

[42:37] Stéphane Lannuzel: But maybe one thing because that’s a stance that L’Oréal has taken, you know, we do cosmetic products for real people in the real world. So we have decided that we will not use GenAI-created humans in our advertising space. So we can get inspired by GenAI, but it’s not replacing a true person. Obviously, GenAI is also very useful in conversation and that’s the Beauty Genius. I think, for me, what is really striking with GenAI is the quality of the conversation. This is the first time where you have a true conversation. So obviously you need to guide, you need to frame it, but I’m impressed by the quality of the conversation. And, if I can name other areas where we are using GenAI, in formulation again, you know, obviously helping us to create new formulas as in other life science industries, but also in knowledge management. And because we are big, we have a lot of data, a lot of information, we do a lot of studies. So having the ability to develop solutions to compile that, to summarize is also key. So that’s the type of area where we are exploring Beauty Genius.

[43:49] Stéphane Lannuzel: But as you truly mentioned, governance is also key. And for us, trustworthy AI is a key topic and is a key theme. So, we have developed a policy around trustworthy AI with some very clear messages: that it will always be human-first, transparency will be key, honesty will be key. So, we have some key principles that we have defined and each application, solution, service that we develop are analyzed against these principles. And we are also working on having some internal and external advisory boards to make sure that we will look at that with the necessary analysis, stepping back and making sure that we are making the right decision in this fastly evolving situation. So, that’s where we stand. GenAI will continue to disrupt, to challenge us. But we are doing that, you know, with a lot of optimism, but also some cautions and some prudence.

[44:50] Charlotte Pierron-Perles: We are really touching upon how much GenAI is bringing new to the services you want to develop for consumers and employees. And we touch upon really how much it’s a transformation by itself for the company. If I look at what you achieved at L’Oréal within the Beauty Tech, L’Oréal always contributed to elevate the standard and create new standards in the beauty industry. What does it mean? What could be the lessons learned for other industries?

[45:20] Stéphane Lannuzel: So if I step back, for me, you need to embrace tech. You need to embrace tech with optimism, with a lot of willingness to bring that at the right level of the organization, meaning the top—meaning the board, meaning the executive committee. They need to embrace technology to see what it means for them. We have also to say that, you know, it’s not for free. I mean, it requires some investment and some commitment. So you have to be ready to invest and to invest in a sustainable way behind tech. Because it’s not hype. It’s not about shiny, shiny objects. It’s about huge transformation. So you need to invest and you need to be able to continuously invest.

[45:58] Stéphane Lannuzel: You also need to embark and embrace your entire company, you know, about talents, about skills—bringing new talents and skills, but also making sure that every single employee of your company is part of the journey. And that’s not easy, but you need to be able to see what’s in there for them? What’s in there for me, for each and every single employee? Because it’s such a powerful transformation that you need all the company behind it. But you know, as I said many times, I’m a tech optimist. And I’m really thinking that, you know, by leveraging tech at the scale of our big companies, you know, we can be more inclusive, more sustainable, and make the world we live in better.

[46:41] Charlotte Pierron-Perles: Thank you, Stéphane. Thank you, Béatrice. We are ending this podcast. I want to thank you both so very much for being there today, investing your time, sharing your learning. Thanks a lot as well for your confidence in your collaboration we had over the last year. I’m pretty sure that all those learnings will be very much valuable as well for other players in the beauty industry and as well very much for others that are benchmarking with L’Oréal and with the beauty sector. You have mentioned life sciences, it’s one among many, and I’m pretty sure that we will meet together again to pursue this very insightful discussion. Thanks a lot.

[47:20] Stéphane Lannuzel: Thank you.

[47:21] Béatrice Dautzenberg: Thank you, Charlotte.

[47:24] Elizabeth Wood: That’s our show. The Design Mind frogcast was brought to you by frog, a leading global creative consultancy that is part of Capgemini Invent. Check today’s show notes for transcripts and more from our conversation.  

[47:37] Elizabeth Wood: We really want to thank our guests, L’Oréal’s Béatrice Dautzenberg, Global Director of Beauty Tech, and Stéphane Lannuzel, Beauty Tech Program Director, as well as Charlotte Pierron-Perles, Executive Vice President and Managing Director of Intelligent Industry at Capgemini Invent. Thanks all of you for sharing your insights on taking beauty to a whole new level. 

[47:58] Elizabeth Wood: We also want to thank you, dear listener. If you like what you heard, tell your friends. Rate and review to help others find us on Apple Podcasts and  Spotify . And be sure to follow us wherever you listen to podcasts. Find lots more to think about from our global frog team at frog.co/designmind. That’s frog.co. Follow frog on Twitter at @frogdesign and @frog_design on Instagram. And if you have any thoughts about the show, we’d love to hear from you. Reach out at frog.co/contact. Thanks for listening. Now go make your mark. 

Elizabeth Wood
Host, Design Mind frogcast & Editorial Director, frog Global Marketing
Elizabeth Wood
Elizabeth Wood
Host, Design Mind frogcast & Editorial Director, frog Global Marketing

Elizabeth tells design stories for frog. She first joined the New York studio in 2011, working on multidisciplinary teams to design award-winning products and services. Today, Elizabeth works out of the London studio on the global frog marketing team, leading editorial content.

She has written and edited hundreds of articles about design and technology, and has given talks on the role of content in a weird, digital world. Her work has been published in The Content Strategist, UNDO-Ordinary magazine and the book Alone Together: Tales of Sisterhood and Solitude in Latin America (Bogotá International Press).

Previously, Elizabeth was Communications Manager for UN OCHA’s Centre for Humanitarian Data in The Hague. She is a graduate of the Master’s Programme for Creative Writing at Birkbeck College, University of London.

Audio Production byLizard Media
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