The beauty and salon industry has changed the way it used to work in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Each one of us has realized the significance of going to a parlor for some self-pampering and we all miss it.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced businesses to re-think and go back to the drawing board altogether. Here is a salon brand that too has re-thought its strategies and is making sure to provide the best salon experience with hygiene safety at the core.
In an exclusive conversation with Medianews4u, D P Sharma, Director – Professional Products Division at L’Oréal India spoke about the new normal and the way forward:
How has L’Oréal India effectively used the lockdown period?
The salon industry has always been our main priority and helping the salons prepare to get back to business was imperative. This was done by virtually training salon professionals in effective safety guidelines to be followed, via a detailed hygiene checklist that was developed. From a consumer perspective, we realized that due to the salons being shut, many consumers were missing their monthly visits as well as their home care products. To bring back this connection, we introduced Social Commerce initiatives that enabled 11,800 salons to begin the contactless and safe delivery of essential hair and skincare products. We also developed a microsite to support salons in tracking orders and successful deliveries. 22,700 professionals were also trained in effective e-retailing and in offering virtual skin and hair consultations to their clients. This helped in creating new avenues of business for salons during the lockdown.
It was also imperative that, we use this time to convey our support for the hairdresser community and stand in solidarity with them. We launched the #LoveIsInTheHair campaign to celebrate the special relationship between the hairdresser and their client. An often overlooked bond that goes beyond the salon. As part of an industry-wide initiative, we wanted to bring together the pillars and opinion leaders of the industry with their clients, for them to celebrate and appreciate each other by sharing notes of love and appreciation. We received an overwhelming amount of support from 734,000 partners and consumers who cumulatively shared more than 600 posts online.
Any sort of innovation that has or will the Covid-19 pandemic bring to L’Oréal India and the industry in general?
Like every other industry, the beauty services industry will have to adapt to the changing dynamics, in order to serve consumers better and safer. At L’Oreal, we not only began but also prioritized the production of sanitizers that were then distributed to salons across the country to help them achieve safety. With the incoming wave of digital transformation, we also see virtual learning sessions play an important role in the coming months.
We have introduced two key innovations to professional hair and skin services, during this time.
For hair, these include Express Hair Colour Services offered in Matrix and L’Oreal Professional partner salons. A revolutionary technique that takes only 45-60 minutes for a professional to gently revive your hair to all its glory. These services offer the same gold standard of dimension, definition, and shine applied skilfully, but with a quicker turnaround time for the consumer, heightening their safety and uplifting the salon’s business.
For skin, we have introduced the Zero Touch Facial, available in Cheryl’s Cosmeceuticals partner salons. The service takes place through a safety protocol that ensures that the beautician doesn’t touch the consumer’s skin with her bare hands. Rather, she is enabled to deliver the exact service with the same efficiency by using the professional tools and techniques by the brand. Using disposable gloves and a mask, she can ensure that your skin concerns are treated in a hygienic manner and the sanitized tools allow for advanced exfoliation and radiant skin. The use of Cheryl’s Cosmeceuticals Skin Scan App helps your beautician recommend the perfect treatment your skin needs. From a safe distance and through virtual skin diagnosis.
How did you keep the team at L’Oréal India motivated during this phase? On a personal note, what kept you positive?
Staying connected and effectively communicating were some of the key elements during the lockdown. This not only ensured clear visibility to all our members but also proved as a driving force in times of crisis. Virtual education sessions and sharing best practices via online meetings have kept up the morale of our people to stay motivated through the lockdown. Using this time to upskill and learn something new has also been important. We took this time to ensure that we came together as a stronger unit to contribute to ideas and to celebrate and acknowledge team wins and successes that were results of experimentation. Staying positive was important and through our learnings from our international businesses, we knew that there would be a resurgence of consumer confidence and that the business would regain momentum in time.
We also knew that, the pandemic would bring about a definite shift for which we had to re-invent ourselves. We envisioned that and began working towards the larger change that was coming. This journey was an undoubtedly unique experience, as one doesn’t get too many chances of re-working and re-doing the business models. To de-stress and rejuvenate, we often organized virtual game sessions amongst team members to keep alive the connection virtually.
What are some of the post-lockdown business strategies that you will use to bring the business back on track to generate demand?
Our first priority has been to regain the trust and confidence of consumers, to make them feel safe while going back to salons. To do so, we have focused very strongly on hygiene and safety first initiatives. We have educated over 22,000 professionals and distributed hygiene kits to offer a safer experience for both the salon expert and the consumer. Through the launch of Project Sunshine, we have enabled 4,000+ salons to disinfect and fumigate their salons. These comprehensive protocols have been actively communicated to all our clients as well.
We have also adapted our services to serve the consumer’s changing needs. We began with creating hygiene focused services for haircuts and color touch-ups. With consumers adjusting to the new normal, we have begun offering additional color and hair care express services that allow clients to obtain the same results with quicker techniques.
In addition, we have started social commerce practices that allow consumers to order hair and skincare products to their homes, by placing orders with salon websites and through Whatsapp, to ensure they are connected with their local salons.
In what ways L’Oréal India has done to achieve the confidence of your salon partners and consumers?
Our salon partners and our consumers are at the forefront of our business. The best way in which we can regain their confidence is by ensuring the highest levels of safety and hygiene services, especially for cautious consumers worried about returning to a salon, We have introduced the ‘Safe Salon’ initiative under Matrix, that provides increased sanitization and fumigation of salons arranged by the brand. All partner salons are equipped with a comprehensive hygiene practice guide that includes the pre-booking of an appointment, temperature checks, sanitization of surfaces, regular washing of hands by staff, contactless and digital payments, sterilization of tools before and after a service, availability of sanitizers and clean masks and gloves worn by the staff. So far, 4000 + salons have been sanitized and disinfected across 44 cities.
For our consumers specifically, we created an informational video that highlighted and detailed the safety measures being adopted by salons and their staff. We wanted to visually showcase the practices being adopted, to ensure consumers that their favorite salon would be a safe space for them to return to. This video was shared with 40,000 salons and 170,000 hairdressers and stylists, who in turn shared it with consumers across social media. We also helped salons create hygiene based testimonials of their celebrity clients, to help address the common fears that the consumer may have.
People used to find salons as a source of self-care and community. And while they aren’t necessarily crowded, they require intimate interaction. How are you complying with social distancing?
Salons will always remain sources of self-care, albeit this experience will be slightly different than before. It has always been our endeavor to offer services that will pamper consumers and leave them feeling refreshed post a visit. All our partner salons will be following extensive and increased hygiene protocols, to cater to their clients in the safest manner possible. Maintaining a physical distance of 1-2 meters between the styling station and the back bar, the use of a dedicated salon-only uniform for staff, cleansing of the styling station, hair basin, and chair after every client, the pre-booking of appointments and contactless payments are crucial while complying with social distancing and will enable salons to cater to their clients in a methodical and hygienic manner. These are the measures on which we even educated our clients and salons on, via the Safe Salon initiative and the safety video.