Something a bit different for today. I had the pleasure of attending an event this past Wednesday night featuring a talk with Jean-Paul Agon, the CEO & Chairman of the L’Oreal Group. If you’re brand new to the beauty scene, L’Oreal is a huge global beauty & fashion empire that owns countless other brands you’re probably very familiar with including Urban Decay, Giorgio Armani, Maybelline, Clarisonic, Essie, Redken, Garnier & Pureology just to name a small fraction.
I bought my ticket for this event back in late summer since I was so intrigued by the theme of the discussion, “Beauty for the New World.” I’m always interested in what industry professionals have to say about the future of beauty. And from the head of L’Oreal no less, so I knew I had to go.
The talk was hosted by the CEW (Cosmetic Executive Women) Organization at The Harmonie Club in NYC. This place was swanky, let me tell you! Right by Central Park on the Upper East Side, I’m sure you get the picture now 😉. It was a 2 1/2 hour event. The first hour was cocktails & hor d’oeuvres (food & service were great but I felt a little awkward since I went to this event solo and didn’t really know anyone), and then the talk and q&a with Jean-Paul filled out the rest of the time slot.
The first thing I noticed when I sat down in the event space was the massive swag bag on each seat! I felt like I hit the jackpot (even though I kinda paid for it with my ticket price, but moving on)! There was cool stuff from a few L’Oreal brands like IT Cosmetics, Lancome & Kiehl’s. Take a look below.
Jean-Paul has been with L’Oreal for 40 years so his perspective on the beauty industry and how it’s changed was very interesting. From the ‘70’s until about 2010 he claimed the way L’Oreal did business didn’t really change much. But then the digital revolution happened and nothing was ever the same. He views the onslaught of technology not as a threat to the beauty business but as an exciting opportunity. For example, the consumer is now at the heart of all products & decisions that are made at L’Oreal, whereas prior to the digital revolution it was products & services that were at the center of decision-making. Throughout his talk he was emphatic on the point that big companies must be ready for change and should try to anticipate it as much as possible. When asked what he hopes his legacy at L’Oreal will be, he said he wanted to be remembered as someone who readied the company for the future as much as possible.
There were some other interesting tidbits I took from the talk. Back in 2001 when Jean-Paul last spoke at a CEW event, an audience member called him out on the fact that L’Oreal was still a “boys club” and had little to no females in high positions of authority. Seventeen years later, things have evolved and now L’Oreal is lauded in the industry for gender equality and pay parity. And when they bought Kiehl’s in 2000 it was a humble $20 million business; news flash it’s now valued at over $1 billion!
What do you think of L’Oreal? Do you like or dislike their products? I’d love to know!