Women empowerment can be defined in numerous ways, but at the forefront, it’s a call to action to support women of all ages, in self-actualizing and celebrating their incredible worth. L’Oréal Paris believes that every woman is worth it, championing self-worth and empowerment for over 50 years now through its iconic slogan Because you’re worth it!
This International Women’s Day, the brand celebrated its 50-year journey in India and globally, to reverberate the emotion of empowering women every day, heightening their confidence and individuality across the globe. In line with the global Women’s day theme of #ChooseToChallenge, the brand celebrates this milestone with the recently launched campaign against street harassment, STAND UP. The campaign was launched in December 2020, and it aims to provide training to consumers to combat street harassment and the initiative has garnered a great response since the rollout.
Pau Gruart, General Manager – L’Oréal Paris, India speaks to us on the various initiatives taken by the brand to empower women and much more………
L’Oréal Paris is a brand we all have grown up with, how has the journey been in India?
It’s been a great journey. We have spent just over 25 years deeply connected to our consumers, building the beauty market in India and bringing the best the world has to offer, to our consumers here. We have partnered with them in their beauty needs and innovated to stay ahead of their expectations.
Our focus has always been to bring differentiated innovation and hence we have been responsible for launching many first-to-market innovations in India, some of the most iconic amongst them being the L’Oréal Paris Excellence Crème hair color or our make-up products. In 2010 we have yet another of our iconic products in Total Repair 5 shampoo. And more recently, in 2020 we launched the first micro-essence water in India with Revitalift Crystal.
What have been the milestones for the brand?
It’s actually a great time to talk about milestones as the brand’s signature phrase ‘Because I’m Worth It’! completes 50 glorious years this year. This was developed as part of an advertisement that was, for possibly the first time, purely from the point of view of women and their self-confidence, their decision, their style. These four words have become what the brand stands for and have proven to be timeless. Today, we know that whenever anyone hears ‘Because You’re Worth It’, they instantly relate it to L’Oréal Paris.
In these 50 years, L’Oréal Paris has centered its purpose on empowering women. As a brand, we have been committed to empowering women and address the barriers key standing in between.
In 2020 India witnessed the launch of Standup, a global initiative on Street Harassment and bystander intervention, which has performed extremely well in India, and our latest announcement of a new global brand ambassador Nidhi Sunil has sparked positive conversations on the brand’s empowerment and inclusivity narrative.
Can you tell us about your recent campaign, ‘StandUp’, and what made you want to do something like this?
Stand Up is an awareness and training program against street harassment and the program offers a proven methodology – the 5D’s – to help both men and women safely intervene if they witness or experience street harassment. This initiative aims to simultaneously discourage harassers, support victims, and encourage bystanders to intervene in a safe manner.
In 2019, we investigated to know the most important issue women face in their daily lives. We discovered that the #1 issue faced by women and girls around the world was street harassment. We, therefore, commissioned IPSOS to investigate the scale of sexual harassment in public spaces. The L’Oréal Paris IPSOS international survey found that 78% of women have experienced sexual harassment in public spaces. That’s 4 in every 5 women. Street harassment happens everywhere, every day, taking away the right to feel safe in the public space. It is an intrusion into women’s daily lives, it can make them feel powerless, and that can impact their sense of self-worth. It’s the exact opposite of the female empowerment L’Oréal Paris champions. We, therefore, partnered with Hollaback to bring their 5D methodology to India and other countries where we are present, in an attempt to help build awareness and measures against this issue.
What was the strategy for the ‘Stand Up’ initiative and how do you think it is relevant for women especially in India?
Our ambition is to tackle street harassment where it happens around the world, by training people to recognize and therefore help stop it in a safe and effective manner.
The L’Oréal Paris x IPSOS study showed 86% of people do not intervene because they do not know what to do. The StandUp program aims to change that by enabling men and women to understand what street harassment looks like and be equipped with extremely safe methods to intervene and stop it.
First, our goal is to raise awareness about the street harassment issue and how significant it is. We want to discourage harassers, support victims, and encourage bystanders to intervene by equipping them with safe methods to do so. Our ambition is to contribute to a cultural shift, for today and future generations.
Second, our ambition is to train 1 million people on the 5D methodology by the end of 2022, therefore empowering women, and men to stand up, creating a movement of upstanders.
We understand that is a large number of people to reach and have therefore developed an online as well as an offline model of training. While our site www.standup-india.com can be accessed by anyone and everyone to take the training digitally, we have also partnered with local NGOs in each country to drive the program on-ground, physically. We are fortunate to have found a partner in Breakthrough in India, an eminent NGO known for its work to mitigate violence against women. For the last 20 years, Breakthrough has been building awareness and taking action to change the norms and culture that perpetuates violence and discrimination against women.
We have seen an incredible response to this program, globally, and even more so in India.
What has been the marketing strategy to reach the target audience i.e., women on this initiative?
To take StandUp to the consumers on a mass scale, we launched a dedicated training website: www.standup-india.com. We are also hoping you (the media) partner us by spreading awareness on this program so that more and more people take part and create a movement of Upstanders across India.
This program has a predominantly digital-led campaign, with our spokespersons taking the pledge and the training, followed by our influencers pledging to take the training and inviting their followers to do so.
Is the millennial generation more open to such initiatives as they are more social media savvy?
Social media has definitely enabled a lot more awareness and opinion sharing, thereby bringing in a lot more education on multiple issues and topics. That in turn has led to a lot more receptiveness towards such initiatives, across generations, including millennials.
But since millennials have far higher adoption of social media and use it as an important source of information and opinion it becomes imperative for any brand to leverage digital platforms to reach the younger generation. This generation not only consumes content on social platforms but in a way also helps us create more engagement when they relate to a certain topic/initiative. And I believe that the initiative was accepted by the generation which did help us educate a larger audience for the initiative.
What are the other initiatives in the pipeline to empower women across generations?
Street harassment is the number one problem amongst women and girls as we could see in the Ipsos research that we conducted in 2019 and hence Standup is our top priority. With our local partners Breakthrough and the support of our spokespersons and influencers, we are aiming at training 1 million people by the end of 2022 and this will remain our top priority for a very long time.
But we are also working on a series of initiatives with our spokespersons & key partners to further spread the message of self-confidence and self-worth which will be revealed in due time.