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How L’Oréal hopes its start-up investment can give it a digital makeover

Personalisation and “contextual commerce” are two of the bigger trends beauty giant L’Oréal is hoping to crack this year with a little help from the start-up industry after revealing the five winning beauty start-ups selected by the company for its first accelerator programme.

The programme is part of a joint venture between L’Oréal and start-up platform Founders Factory to tap in to the start-up’s “agile digital mind set” and see how the French company can replicate this across its own business.

The five companies selected- insitU, Preemadonna, Cosmose, Talify and Veleza – sit within two areas of focus for L’Oréal, personalisation and the future of commerce. Under the partnership Faounders Factory will provide hands-on and operational support and mentoring, while L’Oréal will bring its beauty expertise, access to marketing teams, R&I and ecosystem.

Speaking to The Drum Lubomira Rochet, chief digital officer L’Oréal explained why the brand decided to work with an external partner to run the accelerator and how it hopes to leverage the learnings from the five start-ups.

“It’s a risk [working with start-ups] so this is why we decided to partner with Henry Lane Fox [co-founder and CEO, Founders Factory] who has an extensive background in scaling these kinds of businesses,” she said. “So, the accelerator piece is for us super important but we chose to do that with an external partner and they are managing the operations of the accelerator and I think that is really the win, win strategy.

“Working in beauty is about perfection in terms of product and in terms of communication… but what start- ups can really coach us with is test and learn, that is something interesting because they are very agile and very much in to the digital mind set of that.”

Building services to compliment its products and give consumers access to advice and tutorials is another area of focus for L’Oreal, as it looks to help shoppers navigate the waters of personalised beauty. The business is also looking at how it can integrate commerce in to messaging apps such as WhatsApp as another level of personalisation.

“The trend of messaging is key and if you go one step further its about contextual commerce,” added Rochet. “Today we have ecommerce websites but tomorrow we will be able to put ecommerce functionalities in messenger as we have in WeChat. It is going to be amazing because the platform will be able to push you relevant brands based on your history and what you are looking for.”

L’Oréal and Founders Factory will each year support the growth of five high potential early stage startups and co-create two new businesses as part of the yearly incubator programme.

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