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Creating a Connected Consumer View through Data Collaboration: A Discussion with Danone and L’Oréal

  • LiveRamp
  • 11 min read

It’s no secret that partners collaborating with data build strong customer intelligence that drives superior experiences. At RampUp Worldwide Virtual Summit, we were delighted to have Domitille Doat, Chief Digital Officer, Danone, and Asmita Dubey, Global Head of Media, L’Oréal, share how they are reaching beyond their fours walls to forge data partnerships to be customer centric and create valuable relationships.

Listen to the podcast version of their discussion with LiveRamp president Warren Jenson below, or read an edited transcript:


Podcast Links

Daniella Harkins:
Welcome to Saying the Quiet Part Out Loud, a podcast from LiveRamp that uncovers what’s unsaid about technology, data, and business, and explores how they intersect. I’m your host, Daniella Harkins, SVP of Commercial Excellence and Strategy at LiveRamp.
Last year was challenging to say the least. We saw consumer behavior change on a dime and many companies struggle to keep up. We also saw companies that were able to shift gears overnight, keep up with demand, and understand customers’ needs.
Danone and L’Oréal are global CPG leaders that harnessed the opportunity—well ahead of the pandemic—to build the customer intelligence to move fast and meet people in the moment. A data strategy that enables companies to connect, collaborate with, and use data to build consumer trust and nurture stronger, longer-lasting relationships, has become a significant business trend that will only continue to separate the brands that lead and endure from those that don’t.
At RampUp Worldwide, we were honored to have Domitille Doat, Chief Digital Officer of Danone, and Asmita Dubey, Chief Media Officer at L’Oréal and Chief Digital Officer of the Consumer Products Division, share their perspective on data strategy, trends that have been accelerated by the pandemic, and how relationships with consumers have changed.
Here’s LiveRamp’s president, Warren Jenson, in conversation with Domitille and Asmita. 

Warren Jenson:
‘d like to start off our panel by talking a little bit about the pandemic. Domitille, I’d like to start with you, and Asmita, I’ll ask you the same question: when did you start to see the magnitude of the global crisis?

Domitille Doat:
It feels like ages ago, to be honest with you, but it was probably early February, when we started to see people stockpiling food in China. It’s not something you have a benchmark for in the food and beverage industry. The phenomenon became so widespread and was happening everywhere, which was unsettling. When you’re stockpiling food, it’s war. 

Warren:
Asmita, how about you?

Asmita Dubey:
As Domitille said, we were watching China very closely. Overall, the market was still okay in China for us, but as the world started going into confinement, we started taking more decisive actions. Things like, “what should we do with the reallocation of our marketing fuels?” and “should we start focusing everything on lower funnel?” All of that came about quickly at the very beginning of the pandemic.

Warren:
When I think about the entire COVID-19 crisis, it’s like a black swan event—it has changed everything. Something Domitille and I were chatting about a few weeks ago is that what we thought would happen over two years, is actually happening now in two months. There’s been such a rapid acceleration. Asmita, do you agree with that? Are you seeing things happen faster? 

Asmita:
Absolutely. In particular, we are seeing certain trends that have been accelerated by the pandemic, and some new trends, too. Consumers are becoming more connected. They’re seeking community and they’re having more conversations than they had before, including beauty conversations. They’re doing more coaching, taking up challenges, and there’s definitely more commerce and e-commerce. Consumer behavior is also changing. One example is that demand for at-home hair coloration increased because salons were closed and everyone was confined. We noticed these changes and our ambassador, Eva Longoria, posted on social media that she was using it at home and gave details and a recommendation. It ended up being an extremely popular post on social media, and demonstrates how we are reinventing our communication.

Domitille:
I cannot agree more with what Asmita just said. I think the proximity of the ground to the end user to the consumer is flabbergasting. We used to say, “we want to be in conversation,” but it was very theoretical, let’s be brutally honest—there were so many layers. But in just a short time, those layers have been blown away. If you’re not able to speak with humility and authenticity and bring the best user experience when your product arrives at the door, you miss the train and this is quite brutal. So when our customers want to cook cool and indulgent meals for themselves or with the kids, Danone needs to be there in the conversation, we need to be able to provide the recipes and tools. 

Warren:
I’d like to focus on how the pandemic and the resulting acceleration of everything has changed your relationship with the consumer. Typically, large companies don’t have a direct relationship with the consumer. Domitille, has that changed for Danone in the last six months? 

Domitille Doat:
At Danone, we had always been shy about direct to consumer because there are so many bigger, better players in the industry. But during the pandemic, we realized that we actually do have the capability to form direct relationships.
When the pandemic first started, people were ordering food online—more than water—so the big players decided not to deliver water because they had so much pressure to deliver food. It involved too much handling, etc. But we had the capability to deliver water, right to the doorstep, which involves a very high level of digital savviness, and so we did. That was a game-changer for me, realizing that we do have the ability to be there for consumers, not just in terms of crisis, but also for expansion in the future. 

Warren:
Looking back to the March/April timeframe when everyone was in scramble mode, trying to replan and repurpose our strategies, what’s one thing you got right or wrong?

Asmita Dubey:
I think what we got right, in a way, was more of a strategic gain, especially in the long term. We were ahead of the curve in terms of the digital acceleration we’ve been discussing. We were ready with resources, upskilled people, e-commerce, infrastructure, and services. For example, we had recently purchased an augmented reality company, ModiFace, and were ready to roll out virtual make-up try-ons. We were ready with hair color try-ons and tutorials, too. So, when a situation like this came, we were able to pivot quickly and maximize the experience for millions of consumers. That’s definitely something that went right, and even post-COVID-19, we’re going to be able to continue that acceleration. 

Domitille Doat:
I think one thing we did right is that we managed to have all our products on time and on quality. Of course, we did many things wrong, but it’s all new and we had some great learning experiences. One in particular is that we were following too many KPIs. We were in a world with access to so many KPIs that it was becoming a jargon. Then suddenly everything changed, and we realized there’s only three KPIs that matter and that everyone in the company can follow through on.  

Warren:
Tell us, what was one of those KPIs when you cut right through it. Give us one of three.

Domitille Doat:
The one which is extremely important is the online to offline conversion rate. Everyone has this KPI—it’s accessible. You can make all of your decisions with just this figure. 

Asmita Dubey:
That’s perfect, that’s very good.

Warren:
Let’s talk a little bit about digital transformation. I’ll start with Danone and then jump to L’Oreal. What does this term mean to you and what does it mean to your company?

Domitille Doat:
I think for Danone, our approach is to bring in as much new technology as we can, at scale. Keep in mind that not everything is suitable, we want to make sure that what we bring in is sustainable. Any option needs to ultimately make our business faster, smarter, and more data-driven, while also protect the privacy of our consumers when it comes to data.

Warren:
Asmita, talk to us about digital transformation. What does it mean to you and L’Oreal?

Asmita Dubey:
What we have found for years is that beauty and digital are a perfect fit. We digitized our products and services and the beauty experience that we bring to our consumers, and that helps to build more brand love. The more we employ data-driven marketing, the more we can understand our consumers and talk to them better and at the right time. And also, the commerce side of it and our augmented products—everything is converging in terms of what is digital transformation.

Warren:
So let’s switch gears a little bit and talk about addressability, which I’m going to define as a one-to-one relationship with your consumer. Asmita I’ll start with you. What’s your global approach? 

Asmita Dubey:
The world is becoming more digitalized every day. I think all mediums will have some sort of addressability in the future because technology and automation make it accessible. There is going to be more data-driven marketing and online to offline marketing. That’s the world we are all going to live with. Everything we do in terms of data and addressability will be online to offline.

Domitille Doat:
I totally agree. Consumers want personalization but at a very high level of privacy. This is why our job is so fascinating. We need to match their expectations to avoid disappointing them, but we can’t do it without an online to offline approach. We can’t underestimate the level you need to reach to be five-star nowadays as a brand. It’s not a walk in the park. 

Warren:
I want to touch on data collaboration, or how you’re working with your natural partners. Domitille, to you first, I happen to know that your company is doing some innovative things with data collaboration and working with your natural partners. Can you chat about maybe one or two things you’re doing?

Domitille Doat:
Sure. First of all, when you talk about data collaboration, it needs to be under a strict rule of consent. You cannot simply share data with a partner because you have the same type of consumers. There is a level of preparation to data privacy and security that is extremely complex. The partners you collaborate with need to have the capability to manage data in a privacy-safe way.
Consumers are becoming more and more educated about their individual privacy rights. They have the right to request to be “forgotten” by your company at any time, so you need your technology, your hosting, and where you put your data to be extremely fluid. When a customer says, “I want to be forgotten by your company forever,” you need to be able to do it. Whomever you collaborate with also needs to demonstrate these capabilities. Going back to the demand for personalization, when you are able to collaborate with partners under these very strict circumstances—in a safe haven as you said—it’s really a win for the consumer, because you’re creating value.
For Danone, we don’t want to be telling people what to eat. By using addressability and data collaboration, our strategy is more relevant and personalized. We learn what people like to eat and how they like to cook on a local level, so it’s not a top-down approach. Food is a very cultural, local subject. Enough with brands telling people what to eat. We need to have diversity. We are not in a top-down period anymore, we are in a collaborative period, and we are also collaborating with consumers by acknowledging their local reality.

Asmita Dubey:
I just want to add that on one hand, data has allowed so much more attribution, but on the other hand, we really don’t have a unified view of the consumer. I think there is work to do with our partners on that, as the ecosystem evolves.

Warren:
Lauren, I know we have a couple of questions in the queue as we round out our time together today.

Lauren Dillard:
We do. Domitille and Asmita talked about traditional media spend quickly becoming addressable, and nowhere is this more obvious today than in TV. I’m curious how you both are thinking about your TV strategies, given the opportunity to potentially explore CTV or OTT?

Asmita Dubey:
I’m excited about TV addressability and the fact that television is evolving. From a company point of view, we are always asking, what is available and what can be done with it? How are we going to work with this evolving ecosystem? Especially now during the pandemic, everybody is seeing that OTT and video on demand are exploding because more and more consumers and viewers are looking for that kind of thing.

Domitille Doat:
Yes, I agree. I’m so glad that at last TV is addressable, because the previous advertising formula was obsolete. We can see the benefit and return on investment with connected TV, so that could be the revival of a lot of TV programming and hopefully ratings too. Journalism is fed by TV in many aspects, so if we can bring back some diversity there, it would be great.

Lauren Dillard:
Great. Thanks for that. We have time for one last question. During our conversation, each of you talked about some of the innovative ways you’re using data and technology to improve your customer experience and ultimately business results. What’s next for each of you? 

Asmita Dubey:
We are excited about the fact that we have more opportunities to connect with our consumers and talk directly to them. There is more live-streaming available, which gives us the opportunity to talk to customers and say, “What is your problem because we want to solve it.” That is very interesting for us.

Domitille Doat:
I agree. Proximity seems to be a little bit of a cliche, but that’s probably the next big bastion to really clearly understand and address.
As a generality, I will work very carefully on what conversion means, because the world has shown that you can build your equity and work to convert at the same time. The fashion industry, which was luxury by definition, now shows and sells items at the same time. You build your equity on the quality of the way you address your conversion. So marketers be careful—your nice awareness-consideration-and sometimes conversion journey is probably obsolete already. Building equity while you convert is the name of the game.

Warren:
Terrific. Well, let me just wrap things up. Domitille, Asmita thank you so much for being terrific participants and sharing your insights with us. You truly are global giants and incredible leaders for our industry. 

Domitille:
Thank you, Warren. Thank you for the invitation.

Asmita:
Likewise.

Daniella:
If you enjoyed this conversation with Domitille and Asmita, you’ll love what we have planned for the RampUp Virtual Summit 2021.
I’m thrilled to be emceeing the event, which will be held on Tuesday, March 2, 2021. Head to RampUp.RampedUp.us to learn more and register.

This podcast was brought to you by LiveRamp. You can find us online at LiveRamp.com, and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn. Subscribe to Saying the Quiet Part Out Loud on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and however you listen to podcasts.