Friday, December 2, 2011

Branding: Where L'Oreal Paris Got it Right

I am an active user of male grooming products, and L'Oreal Men's Expert is one of the brands that I use to keep me at my best. The male personal grooming industry has been growing at a rapid pace in the last decade, to an extent, at a faster pace than the women's beauty market. Big players such as L'Oreal Paris, Nivea & Neutrogena have recognized this trend and have entered this market segment to produce skin care products for the new generation of men. L'Oreal particularly, launched a new line of product in 2005 called "L'Oreal Men's Expert." Since its launch in 2005, L'Oreal Men's Expert has done well across the globe by capturing a significant market share within the growing male grooming industry, especially attaining the number 1 spot in Europe. What has contributed to its success? The underlying key to the industry is that everyman wants to look their best and why shouldn't they. Here is where branding takes a step forward in the marketing department.

Brands have a remarkable ability to impact the way people view products. Consumers rarely just see a product or service; they see the product together with the brand. As a result, how they perceive the product is shaped by the brand. Perceptions of course matter most. How people perceive something matters far more than the absolute truth. The question generally isn't which product or service is the best; the question should be which product or service people think is the best. Is Dom Perignon the best champagne in the world? Does McKinsey do the best strategic thinking? Perhaps so, perhaps not. However many people think so, and perceptions matter the most. The presence of a well known brand will dramatically affect how people view a product or service. If people see a premium brand name on a product, they will likely view the item as a high quality, exclusive, and expensive. If people see a discount name on a product, they will probably perceive the item to be low quality and cheap. Taking all these factors into account, L'Oreal Men's Expert have absolutely nailed it on branding by connecting with their consumers emotionally by using clever keywords, attractive packaging, and my favorite part of it all, Hugh Laurie.

L'Oreal's clever use of keywords and product proposition should be admired. Words like Hydra Energetic/Anti-Fatigue/UV Defense, and the list goes on, have helped shape the perceptions of consumers. I feel that the best part of it all is in the name of the product, L'Oreal Men's Expert. The word expert has tapped into the male psyche. L'Oreal has taken advantage of the fact that nearly all men believe that they are experts in one thing or another.  From Sex to DIY tool kits, driving, cooking, directing movies and traffic, sports commentary and analysis, dancing, managing Manchester United or Liverpool, the list goes on. It is debatable whether these statements are true. However in every men's own small world that resides in their brain, they think that they are experts. (That is why men always get into trouble after voluntarily giving advice to women, as all their partner wanted them to do was to just listen to their problems, not advise ;op) So for a  brand like L'Oreal to tell men that they are experts, to reaffirm their expertise, to finally acknowledge what men have been known for many generations, is simply genius. It subconsciously sends a message that acknowledges the expert in all men.

L'Oreal Men's Expert is not cheap. The color design on the product and the fact that they package their cream in almost un-openable containers creates a high perceived value of the product. Its technical dispensers and numerous dynamic secondary messaging and technical illustrations also adds on to the high perceived value of the product.  

Celebrity Endorsements
As L'Oreal has positioned itself as the desired anti aging skincare product for the modern middle age man that wants to look their best in personal grooming, they have aligned themselves with celebrities like Pierce Brosnan, Gerrard Butler and Patrick Dempsey to help endorse their product. This has been an excellent tactic and probably worked well for L'Oreal over the past few years. However, where they got it perfectly right, was when they named Hugh Laurie as their brand ambassador. Hugh Laurie is well known for his character as "Dr Gregory House", the protagonist on House who is down to earth, confident  and not afraid to be himself. This resonates well with most consumers as Hugh Laurie is the perfect example of a modern man that is genuine, uninhibited, strong and willing to pursue his passions to the end. Most importantly, Hugh Laurie is not a pretty face unlike the previous brand ambassadors for L'Oreal. He is a clear representative of the middle aged population that men all over the world can relate to.

To add on to these 3 factors mentioned above, L'Oreal Men's Expert has created a product that actually works. The product is outstanding and works on every level. From their anti fatigue cream to their eye roller, L'Oreal has delivered on the most important part of its promise. To sum it all up, L'Oreal has taken a great product and found a great way to tell people about it. A great product with an excellent branding strategy can help any company reap the rewards it truly deserves. I will leave you with L'Oreal's latest advertisement starring none other than Hugh Laurie. Enjoy =)


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