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A Celebration and a Lesson

By: Jeff Falk
Posted: October 5, 2009, from the October 2009 issue of GCI Magazine.

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L’Oréal: L’Oréal is always looking to the future in terms of product development in order to enhance its current portfolio of 23 international brands. The L’Oréal model is based on being able to sustain brands that cover every sector of cosmetics in every distribution channel. At the same time, our company has always demonstrated a rigorous scientific approach to product development. L’Oréal’s teams are constantly developing new formulas by using state-of-the-art technology. With R&D a priority for the company and evaluation centers in key geographic zones—including the U.S., Japan, China and Brazil—L’Oréal has acquired a deep pool of knowledge that enables the company to anticipate and meet the needs of consumers all over the world. The ultimate aim of our innovation is the products’ efficacy, and [how that benefits] consumers worldwide.

GCI: As L’Oréal became a company recognized as a long-standing leader in beauty, was there an inherent risk of being taken for granted? What are the challenges of being successful?

L’Oréal: L’Oréal’s goal has always been about more than being an industry leader. We continue to seek out new opportunities in beauty. Consumers recognize quality, and always choose products that provide something extra in terms of performance, results and satisfaction. Obsession with quality and a passion for innovation are two trademarks of L’Oréal that will never change.

But in addition, we also strive to be a good corporate citizen and an environmentally responsible company. To that end, L’Oréal is involved in a number of philanthropic projects such as its L’Oréal/UNESCO For Women in Science program, Hairdressers Against AIDS and, through the L’Oréal Foundation, a number of other projects that give back to communities around the world. In addition, L’Oréal has set significant environmental targets for its factories and warehouses from 2005–2015 to cut greenhouse gas emissions, water use per unit of finished product and waste generated per unit of finished product. This is in addition to other strong performances in these areas, all focusing on corporate consumer responsibility.

GCI: The company’s centennial celebration recognizes the vision of Eugene Schueller and his development of the first permanent hair color using an oxidation process. How does that early innovation impact how the company approaches product development and innovation today? Does it continue to shape the company?