L’Oréal CMO: Digital Is Changing Our Content, Creative And Conversation

speichertFour years ago, consumer beauty and cosmetics company L’Oréal did not have a chief marketing officer.

When Marc Speichert joined the company, it became overwhelmingly apparent how much decentralization existed across the company’s four divisions and 20-plus brands, a challenge for any global enterprise. “I think CMOs need to be agents of digitalization in an organization,” Speichert said during the Financial Times’ Future of Marketing Summit yesterday in New York.

One of his key focuses at the beginning of his tenure was “to federate people around the mission of the company,” he noted. But “digital is changing the content, creative and conversation we’re having with our retail partners and one of the missions we have on my team… [is] ‘How do we incubate new business models?’”

As L’Oreal has more conversations about the mix of online and offline data and how that’s impacting products and services, Speichert said analytics have become “incredibly important.” L’Oreal now has a media team working alongside a consumer Insights team to link efficiencies back to the business unit “from a digital investment perspective.”

The business unit is tasked with identifying what the organization’s battlegrounds are as well as emerging business areas. (It’s important to note that L’Oreal does maintain external agency partnerships and recently put its digital media account up for review, according to AdAge.)

“We talk at L’Oreal about how the biggest partner for marketing is our technology experts,” he said. That often results in “doing inventory of the data we have and prioritizing and filtering to get to what’s actionable… now, we have one team [looking at data] instead of siloes in each unit.”

Also at the FT Summit, marketers grappled with the tradeoffs in managing data in-house versus relying on partners.

In a recent survey conducted by the Association of National Advertisers, 42% of 188 client-side marketers said they handle data/marketing and analytics through an in-house unit, as opposed to an agency partner, AdExchanger reported.

Although marketers could, feasibly, have more access and control of first-party data, “the challenge for the CMO [and the marketing operation] is, ‘How do you handle left-brain and right-brain [strategy] and don’t miss those creative moments driven by the consumer,” said Jeffrey Rohrs, VP of marketing insights at ExactTarget.

Additionally, 60% of marketers from a survey of 400 CMOs by McKinsey and Co. report feeling pressure from above in proving the value of their marketing efforts while 85% said they were not even measuring the impact of social media on marketing, said Jonathan Gordon, a principal at McKinsey during the summit.

Ultimately, marketers cannot be “insular,” said David Edelman, a global digital marketing strategy division leader at McKinsey. That might mean “bringing in talent or expertise from agencies or forming the right media partnerships and content agreements,” but marketers are now faced with “the journey and experience the consumer has [instead of a product focus only.] It’s a huge shift and it’s a big shift in thinking about budget allocations.”

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