Jean-Paul Agon, Chairman and CEO of L’Oreal, the world’s leading beauty company, drawed on his remarkable 40+ years of leadership to provide CEW members with insights into how beauty companies can stay nimble and adapt in today’s rapidly changing marketplace.
Jean-Paul Agon’s Early Years:
Jean-Paul Agon spent his entire career at L’Oreal. Starting in sales and then transitioning to marketing, Agon was appointed head of L’Oreal Greece Asia Zone. Through these international experiences, he came to understand the beauty desires of consumers throughout the world. In 2001, he was named President of L’Oreal USA.
Jean-Paul Agon’s Recent Years and Accomplishments:
During his 11 years as CEO, Agon doubled the group’s market value and spearheaded its makeover. He coined the concept of Universalization – a vision of globalization that respects local differences in desires, needs, and beauty traditions. With this in mind, he created research and marketing hubs in every strategic market. Under Agon’s leadership, L’Oreal has become the world leader in e-commerce, transforming the relationship between brands and consumers. Finally, he has made L’Oreal a world champion of sustainability – one of only two companies to hold the highest rating by the Carbon Disclosure Project in the key areas of combating climate change, creating sustainable water management, and fighting deforestation. The Ethisphere Institute has ranked L’Oreal as the company with the second best ethical reputation worldwide.
Here are some key L’Oreal global market statistics:
- The world’s largest beauty brand
- Has over 83,000 employees
- Makes over $30 billion dollars in revenue
- #1 beauty brand in China
- China is the company’s #2 market
- E-commerce grew by 30% in 2017
- Jean-Paul Agon is only the 5th chairman in the company’s 110 year history
- Has over 34 international brands
- 8 of those brands make over $1 billion dollars in revenue
Jean-Paul Agon discussed and described L’Oreal’s company culture. He described it as dynamic, a quest for excellence, entrepreneurial, and that working there feels like an adventure. When it comes to Jean-Paul Agon’s perspective on growing companies organically or by acquisition, Agon says that the industry is Darwinian, i.e. it’s smarter to buy brands within 3-5 years after they’ve shown they can not only survive, but thrive.
Here are some other key facts and mentions from the event:
- When Kiehl’s was acquired, it had $20 million dollars in revenue – now it is a $1 billion dollar brand
- After many years of the industry being the same old, same old, digital had created a revolution in the industry – in 2010, they saw the wave coming and they were the first to move heavily into digital
- Hired 2,000 digital employees and upskilled 20,000 employees as well as hired the first Chief Digital Officer
- Digital has put the consumer at the heart of everything first
- Digital has changed distribution
- Agon feels Amazon provides a fantastic service
- Agon also believes that the acquisition of Modiface will help them get a competitive advantage as well as help the consumer
- Agon strongly focused on customization (this can scale in brands like Lancome and Skinceuticals)
- Regarding sustainability, L’Oreal decided to be exemplary – even though beauty does not have as big of an impact as other consumer categories, L’Oreal is making it a priority
- Agon says that many people feel that digital can only help new brands and Agon believes that is wrong – digital is supporting the rise of the big brands, contrary to popular belief
- Agon’s obsession is to prepare L’Oreal for the future
CEW is an international organization of 10,000 individual members representing a cross section of beauty and related businesses. The composition of membership includes leading brands, Indies, retailers, media, and suppliers. CEW’s primary purpose is to provide programs online and in person to develop careers and knowledge of the beauty industry. CEW provides opportunities to connect and gain industry knowledge through networking events, trend reports, industry newsletters, interactive workshops, and industry leader talks. For more information, please visit www.cew.org.
-Ron Robinson, BeautyStat Founder and Cosmetic Chemist