Innovation Inspiration: A look at L’Oreal

Anup Batra


L’Oreal is famous for their shiny advertisements, celebrity endorsements, and models with shimmering hair. But what they should be known for is their outstanding investment, strategies, and tactics in innovation. Their investment in research and innovation is the highest in the beauty and cosmetics industry. They were the first big beauty player to name a chief digital officer; and they recently announced their goal to become a 100% digital brand. L’Oreal’s innovative strategies should serve innovation inspiration to all, and here’s why.

2014 – Innovation Inspiration with AR

2014 was the year that kicked off innovation for L’Oreal. After a period of revenue loss, they hired their first Chief Digital Officer, Lubomira Rochet.

According to L’Oreal’s CEO and Chairman, Rochet’s mission is to “accelerate L’Oréal’s digital transformation regarding consumer experience, service-based innovation, customer service and technology platforms.”

VIEW the interactive model for L’Oreal market share here.

Earlier in the year, Euromonitor released their report on the global consumer survey results on apparel, beauty and grooming. The survey results showed a shift toward personalised, health-orientated beauty and the growing impact of niche brands.

L’Oreal either took this report to heart, or was incredibly intuitive in their innovation. They quickly began to cater for these trends.

Read more: 5 Examples of Successful Marketing Innovation Strategies 

Innovation Inspiration Makeup Genius AppIn the same year, they launched their L’Oreal Paris’ Makeup Genius app, an AR service which allows people to try on makeup virtually. The app uses facial mapping technology to chart 600 different points on the human face. It captures 100 different facial expressions, and can work in more than 400 lighting conditions. This allows the user to turn their head and test out looks at differing angles and lighting situations before buying products. It further offers personalised tips and products, and now has 20 million downloads.

2015 – Investing in Innovation

In 2015, L’Oreal invested a total of 794 million euros invested in research and innovation; the company had 3870 research & innovation employees, and developed a total of 497 patents.

One such patent was their 3-D printing process for human tissue. This material aids animal-free cosmetics testing, with the aim of fully automating the bio-printing process.

“Beauty is above all a scientific adventure” 

2016 – Innovating with IoT

2016 was the year L’Oreal dived into the world of IoT.

IoT might, at face level, seem irrelevant for the beauty and cosmetics industry. However, it’s the opposite mindset that leads to innovation.Innovation Inspiration L'Oreal My UV Patch

The only thing L’Oreal takes at face level is its foundation. Rather, the company thinks innovatively. Instead of saying, ‘IoT is not suited for our industry,’ they asked, ‘how can we make the most of this new trend and technology?’

Notably, researchers at the company developed the My UV Patch. This is a wearable IoT device which measures the wearer’s exposure to UV rays. Connected to a smartphone, it alerts the wearer when their sun protection becomes insufficient, and offers customised advice and products to the wearer based on their activity and skin type.

Of course, researchers couldn’t have done this without a considerable amount of investment from the firm. Throughout 2016, the company upped its investment in research and innovation to 850m euros, a total of 3.3% of their sales). They had 3862 research and innovation employees, and developed 473 patents.

In 2016, L’Oreal also announced a strategic investment in “Founders Factory,” a company which aids in creating and scaling technology start-ups. This will  allow L’Oreal to deeply connect itself to a global ecosystem of world-class start-ups and entrepreneurs operating in the field of beauty.

All these innovative tactics lead us to where we our now – 2017.

Business Growth Hot Seat2017 – Personalised Innovation Inspiration

This year, the organization has unveiled two major products – personalised foundation, and an IoT hairbrush.

Lancome’s Le Teint Particulier Custom Made Foundation uses patented technology to analyse an individual’s unique skin tone. At the point of sale, it creates customized foundation for the customer.

The Karastase Hair Coach is the world’s first smart hairbrush. It monitors the quality of the user’s hair, and offers customized product recommendations and hair care routine.

Innovation is not just about inventing and reinventing – it’s about tweaking existing products to heighten their relevance and success too. This year, L’Oreal also released a revamped version of their Makeup Genius app, with an additional Nail Genius section for nail polish products.


As L’Oreal proudly states, “beauty is above all a scientific adventure”. This mindset has led them to be leaders in their field. They’re the first beauty and cosmetics company to hire a Chief Digital Officer, embrace AR in their marketing campaign, and develop beauty IoT products.

L’Oreal is an innovation inspiration. They never shy away from innovation, and neither should you.


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