L’Oreal: “I am not opposed to beauty and feminism”

It is the most widespread brand of beauty products in the world and, within the L’Oreal group, has a turnover of 30 billion euros, one of the most emblematic. That is why L’Oréal Paris finds itself in the front line of embodying the values ​​of the entire company. Delphine Figer Hovasi, who took over as director in 2019, has shown her determination to capitalize on this exhibition to make it a true voice in service of the women-led battles for the respect of their rights. Without giving up the desire for beauty, care and seduction, which drives the brand’s commercial success. The annual show, which took place last fall during Paris Fashion Week and is open to the public, has become one of the highlights of this policy.

Why organize a fashion show L’Oreal Paris during Fashion Week?

Delphine Figer Hovasi This offering is important because it embodies our brand values, in particular the first, our position in “Accessible Luxury”. It’s luxurious, with top-notch designers and great music, but it’s also accessible, because this fashion show is the only one available to the general public. No invitation card needed, just sign up on our social platforms.

This meeting also embodies a second key point for the brand: the women who represent it. And for us, they are very strong and diverse women, whether by their beauty paradigm, age, social origin, or talents. From L’Oréal’s point of view, it is important not to be content with a unified vision of beauty.

Finally, the place, at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, is clearly an icon. L’Oreal Paris was born almost one hundred and twenty years ago, in 1904, in Rue Royale, in Paris. It’s a Parisian brand, more Parisian than any brand that claims to be. If we add to this our artistic beauty expertise, with very beautiful hair, and very beautiful makeup, you will understand why I want this event so much.

Does this align with the recent development of the brand?

No, this situation has always existed. We have always compared the quality of our formulations to luxury or professional products, but by keeping them affordable. Even if they are a little more expensive than the “mass market” average, our products remain affordable compared to the luxury market. It affects a very large number of consumers.

What is a “strong woman” for L’Oreal in particular
In this “me too” period?

She is a woman who has an impact on her community. For example, in the United States, Jane Fonda, or the young singer Camila Cabello, is very influential in the Latin community. Or, in France, Yseult, this young self-employed singer, who performs and has a strong audience among young people… In short, strong women are the ones whose voice makes an impact. Our slogan “Because I Deserve It” has been around for fifty years. It’s a great expression of self-esteem!

When we created it, in the ’70s, women were almost silent in ads. And all the women’s products were seen through the eyes of a man who said, for example: “She has very beautiful hair, this woman is wonderful.” We pushed the men away and made the woman speak in front of the camera. Having said that, I think that since the ’70s, the feminist movement has calmed down a bit, until today it has become more focused on social success, success, and professional and personal fulfillment.

Feminism is perhaps less combative, and can be summed up in two words: feminine and feminist. Our brand is located exactly on this line, which has always been its property. We’ve always shown strong, upright women walking towards the camera, exceptional women who share the secret of beauty.

Where does beauty occupy in the feminist struggle?

Beauty is power. When asked why they wear makeup, many women suggest that it is somewhat similar to the armor they wear to face their social life, a way of gaining self-confidence. That’s why I’m not against beauty and feminism. Taking care of one’s beauty acts as a catalyst, it is a costume that one wears.

Do brand values ​​represent the position of women in the L’Oréal Group?

Today, women occupy 59% of the positions of responsibility in the group. In Comex, there are still a few men, but, on the board, there are a few women. Additionally, in 2019, we achieved equal pay. This goal was set eighteen years ago, and in fact, it can only be achieved gradually. You can’t get 20% more people all at once, you have to deal with issues around maternity leave, part-time work, promotions – sometimes you have to push women a little bit to accept promotions, etc. In short, it takes a lot of things to fall into place, which is very arithmetic and does not necessarily appear in the first year.

Regarding the brand itself, it is true that I am the first woman to hold this position. But I’m here because I was ready for it, not because I’m a woman. On the other hand, I must say that it is easier for me, as a woman, to express the dual feminine and feminine dimension of the brand. I can fit it in, I feel legitimate to talk about it, I really feel it and live it. So I try to make the synthesis between the history of the brand and what I want to do with it. All this is completely consistent, and is done without coercion. I don’t think there is a women’s administration. The issue of management is more related to a particular form of examples.

Could these tough commitments become business arguments?

Our consumers are sensitive to very high quality at an affordable price, but they are also pragmatic: what matters is a good deal and product efficacy. The concept of “feminism and feminism” will never sell a bad product! Less will be justified to sell it at a higher price. I used to think that adopting a great cause would win over all female consumers, but I know it doesn’t work that way.

If a brand, in addition to its core values, is championing a just cause – for example, as we do, fighting street harassment – it must always remain tangible. In this case, develop a good scientific formula and offer a good product at a reasonable price. You have to put these things in the right order…

Our results show this: We are, on a global scale, a good point above the beauty market, a well-functioning market that has resisted Covid well. And in the field of hair care we are experiencing our strongest growth, because we have launched new technologies for shampoo and conditioner. Innovations and quality of formulas are really the engines of success.

But this contemporary image can still bring you younger clients…

Originally, that’s right, we’ve been more of a brand of anti-aging products — skin care and hair coloring — with primary clients between the ages of 40 and 45. On the other hand, makeup allows us to speak more to the younger ones. In fact, they are more concerned with the feminist cause. The issue of new generations is also about our recruitment. However, studies show that we are one of the sexiest groups in the world. Including thanks to the technological aspects that attract young talents. We are developing various artificial intelligence and data analysis tools, related to e-commerce and digital services, which are a real source of brand expansion.

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