Getting personal: Umesh Phadke, President Director of L'Oreal Indonesia, shares the most surprising trend of 2020

Getting personal: Umesh Phadke, President Director of L'Oreal Indonesia, shares the most surprising trend of 2020

Umesh Phadke, President Director, L'Oreal Indonesia
L'Oreal Indonesia
March 2021

Meet Umesh Phadke, President Director of L’Oreal Indonesia. Phadke recently sat down with Google to share his thoughts on the most surprising trend to emerge from 2020 (heard of “maskne”?) and how he kept his team safe and centered during the stay-home period, like creating daily “pit stops” so people could connect from home.

Calling digital “the oxygen that kept everything going” in 2020, learn how Umesh and his team embraced digital to move offline conversations with their customers online, and the big lessons they learned along the way.


My best mentors has told me was, "Keep your CFO on your right, keep your HR director on your left, and everything else in business will take care of itself.


I'm Umesh Phadke, and you might not be able to tell by looking at me, but I know more about haircare than most people with hair, and I know more about makeup than most women because I'm the president director of L'Oreal Indonesia.


If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing? I would have been a Bollywood actor, because straight out of high school, I was selected to go to an acting school.


But at the same time, I had also applied for engineering college, and the good boy that I was, I decided to do engineering over acting.


What is the last thing you looked for on Google Search? Well, that's rather simple, I was looking for a recipe for Sichuan chili oil. And just this morning, I made my batch, and here it is.


What steps did you take to take care of your team during the stay at home period? So, the moment we realized that we had to go to work from home for an extended period. We first changed from being high touch in the office to high touch digitally. We increased the frequency of contact between ourselves and with our teams.


Every team member in my management committee set up a drum beat of how they were going to monitor their teams. My professional products general manager called it pit stop, and he would have multiple pit stops during the day with his teams in the initial weeks. And then they got into a rhythm of understanding and monitoring people.


What is the most surprising trend to come out of 2020? One of the things that we found in consumer trends was a trend called maskne. Because a lot of consumers are wearing masks, they're now developing acne. They believe they're developing acne because they're wearing masks.


And so, they are looking for products to take care of acne coming out of maskne.


What role did digital play in your company’s recovery during the pandemic? Well, I think digital was the oxygen that kept everything going when things were looking like they were going to stop. It was the fuel that allowed us to fly when we all thought the business was going to be grounded. We went from being “Programmatic was a hobby” kind of thing, and it became almost the mainstay of the business because of the e-commerce shift.


Digital conversations became extremely important because, like I said, consumers retreated to their homes. So, we needed to reach them, and the only way to reach them was through digital conversations. Beyond that, because consumers were staying at home and because consumers were consuming a lot more digital media on regular basis, we had to change the content far more frequently than we were doing before.


We also had to target consumers far more sharply than we could before. And as a result of that, the whole structure of our business, the process in which we do our business has changed and evolved. And I think we are ready for the next gen.


What is your top learning in embracing digital? We've developed a culture of test and learn, all the time. So, we are ready to fail with ideas, as long as we learn from them. But we don't know when an idea will really become big.


What do you think marketing will look like in 2030? Marketing in 2030 will be very different to marketing in 2020, but at the same time, it will also be exactly the same, because it will always start with understanding what the consumer wants, and delivering the best product to her when she wants it.


What has really evolved is the execution of marketing once you've understood the consumer needs. So, if you look at it 100 years ago, it was about print media. 20 years ago, it was about television, you had to air on primetime. But today, it's about personalized marketing.

2020 Year in Search Indonesia – Looking back to move your business forward