Why digital transformation is the whole cake, not just the cherry on top according to L’Oréal Nordics’ CMO

Christel Hansen, Ryan Strain / February 2020

To digitally transform means to never stand still. The moment you think you’ve found the key to digital maturity is the moment your competitors can, and will, overtake you. It’s this sense of readiness which forms the foundation of L’Oréal Nordics’ digital journey. “It’s never over,” says chief marketing officer Nick Buckley. “Realising that it’s a continuously evolving sector is fundamental to success.”

Having been at the forefront of L’Oréal’s digital growth, Buckley knows a thing or two about transforming digital operations. “When reviewing our position on the digital maturity roadmap five or six years ago, we believed that we were quite far from where we should be. So in typical L’Oréal fashion, we took that as the motivation to absolutely and fundamentally change every part of our organisation,” he says. “Or as our global CEO, Jean-Paul Agon, rightly puts it: digital transformation is not the cherry on the cake, it is the cake.”

Making the base: Understanding the marketing landscape

In order to plot the course for their digital journey, Buckley and his team started off by closely examining market leaders in both beauty and non-beauty related industries. “It’s quite complex to work out how digitally progressive an organisation is,” Buckley admits. “We worked with several partners, including Google and BCG, to try and get a sense of our performance in relation to competitors and industry leaders.”

Based on this research, the beauty brand created a roadmap outlining a five-year plan which, at its core, changed the entire business — from its objectives and KPIs to the way they manage their employees.

Restructuring existing teams, introducing new teams, and delivering upskilling and training sessions were all fundamental parts of the process. “We now have training courses on data science, SQL (structured query language), data analytics, content creation, and influencer management. We would not have thought about any of this five years ago, but today they are the everyday, business-as-usual concepts for our marketing teams.”

The 3 layers of success

In addition to ensuring you’re constantly evolving, Buckley believes a successful digital transformation comes down to two ingredients, starting with investing in your talent. “Don’t underestimate the power of people,” he says. “Hiring the right people, with the right skill sets and, most importantly, the right mindsets will allow you to create a team environment, and that’s been key to L’Oréal’s success.”

Partnerships: The cherry on top

Finally, there’s the importance of partnerships, but not just any. “Partners need to be able to align and support your vision for growth. Really choosing and selecting those organisations that will support you with that growth along the way is crucial.”

Digital marketing transformation: A 3-step organisational action plan