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Innovating an 800-Pound Gorilla With Bernardo Martins, Head of Digital Marketing at L’Oréal Luxe Brazil

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Key Takeaways:

  • Never rest on your laurels. Brands like L’Oréal are so successful because they keep innovating and pushing the boundaries.
  • If you educate your customers well, they’ll keep coming back to your brand.
  • Have a unique differentiator that sets you apart from the competition. It can be as simple as your brand having a quirky sense of humor. 

Bernardo’s marketing journey

Bernardo has always been interested in digital marketing. After graduating from university with a degree in communications, marketing, and advertising, he decided to work for an ad agency but quickly realized it didn’t suit him. So he made the bold decision to become an entrepreneur at the age of 20.

In 2007, he started a digital marketing agency with the help of a few friends in the digital demand activation and promo marketing industry. Understanding that his heart wasn’t fully in it, and keen to learn more about digital marketing, he left after a year to join a digital marketing agency called Kindle. 

Since then, Bernardo worked across a variety of industries like oil & gas, telecommunications, gaming, and travel and events, before becoming Head of Digital Marketing at L’Oréal Luxe Brazil back in August 2018.

We caught up with Bernardo to speak about how a household name like L’Oréal uses innovation to stay ahead of the competition. 


Living the digital marketers’ dream

I’ve been the digital head of one of the four L’Oréal business units for almost three years now. I am specifically focused on luxury products. This means that I’m in charge of developing the digital strategy and business for five separate major brands: Lancôme, Ralph Lauren, Giorgio Armani, Yves Saint Laurent, and Urban Decay. 

My job is to handle the high-level digital strategy and take care of the activation side of things (in tandem with my fantastic team), boosting channels like CRM, Direct to Consumer E-Commerce, Marketplace, Digital Media & Data Acquisition strategies. It’s been a really enjoyable experience because L’Oréal is the largest beauty company in the world, performing an incredible digital transformation. 

Reinventing the beauty industry


Our beauty tech path has a direct connection to the way our digital transformation is being delivered to our consumers. A good example of that is rethinking the way that people buy makeup online, for instance.

There are 2 major groups of consumers:

1. The Repurchasers: People who buy the same products time and time again.

2. The New buyers: People that need to figure out what they like, build trust with the brand, try, and then do a purchase.

It’s difficult for consumers in the second category to purchase online without trying. That’s why we built VTO (Virtual Try-On) technology using L´Oréal´s proprietary Modiface Technology. We’ve created a way for people to virtually try on our makeup products on


But testing is not everything. Some leads need to be nurtured with education about our products. We have a dedicated team providing educational content to our consumers: videos, tutorials, influencer-led content, guides, and more. 

Our CRM helps us to deliver this content to the right leads at the right moment on their lifecycle and then generate this connection through content in a proper way, personalization at scale. We use our consumer data to essentially guide the content we produce and release. 

Developing a consumer-centric strategy

To talk about startups a bit, I’ll go through my own past experience of building out the digital team at Nuuvem, Brazilian´s largest gaming e-commerce and 2nd in Latam, which I used to work for before L´Oréal.

1. Identify goals

We started by identifying our goals. Since we were in eCommerce, our sales performance was the main one. More than that a growth mindset looked for customer acquisition, and customer retention in a special way. Our goal was to improve all three of these metrics. Simple as that.

2. Build the brand

Gaming is about community. This very large community in Brazil must be connected to the brand to grow. We were a startup, so we didn’t have the money to devise huge paid media strategies. So we had to get quite creative with our organic efforts. 

We put together a content team to kickstart our brand-building in 3 different languages, first in Portuguese, then in Spanish and English: a copywriter, graphic designer, a fluid designer, and a community manager.

3. Social listening & Customer Experience

We had to go through the painstaking (but incredibly valuable) process of scouring through the internet to identify what were the main pain points in our consumer’s journeys, what they were lacking, and what their dreams were. 

I will share 2 examples. One is from the very beginning of the store – to buy a game online you should go abroad, on a US or European site because the stores in Brazil did not accept credit cards (that was a quick fix).

Another thing was the premium support. The journey after buying the game is challenging. There are payment issues, game installation, hardware problems, etc. Customers were buying on our contenders due to the awesome quality on reply rate.

4. Develop an approach

You don’t necessarily need a unique selling point (USP) if you have a unique differentiator. For us, that was our sense of humor. Our approach and tone of voice were so different from every other brand out there. Consumers couldn’t help but notice us. 

5. Execution time and data

After identifying our goals, building the brand, understanding consumers’ needs, and defining the approach, we started developing a backlog of tactics to deploy and data was crucial on that, so we plugged into a BI Analyst to help us generate the insights that we needed. One by one, we slowly began to test them out based on effort and expected impact.

We measured the results and optimized where necessary. Experiencing double-digit growth for three consecutive years means that something clearly worked.


Bernardo’s theory: Don’t try to sell first – help and educate!

Bernardo touched upon the fact that L’Oréal is actively trying to educate its consumer base. 

It turns out that educating your customers may be your route to success. Done well, it can increase your sales, drive customer loyalty, enhance your brand’s reputation, and considerably reduce the number of complaints that your company receives. 

Let’s have a look at the benefits of customer education in more detail. 

Increases sales

Research shows that educational content makes customers 131% more likely to buy from a brand. The practice of content marketing and providing educational (or entertaining) content to attract shoppers has become more important than ever before. 

It’s predicted that the content marketing industry will grow in size by an astronomical $296BN from 2020 – 2024. The message is clear: educational content will increase your sales. 

Builds consumer trust

By providing ongoing educational content, you position your company as a trusted authority. Your content not only shows that you’re an expert in your field, but it highlights that you care about helping consumers and not just making a profit.

Research shows that when users read just one piece of educational content, their trust and affinity for the brand increases by 10% in a week. Imagine the effects if you provide educational content throughout the funnel!

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Enhances customer loyalty and drives lifetime value

Trust and loyalty go hand in hand. If consumers believe that your company is a trusted authority they’ll keep coming back to you for more information. They’ll actively follow influencers partnered with you and regularly engage with their content. 

Two things happen when customers regularly engage with your brand and its content. First, their customer loyalty increases. Second, their lifetime value goes through the roof. In other words, it’s a win-win situation.

Reduces complaints

Educational content helps ensure your complaints are kept to a minimum. Showing customers how to use your products, how to troubleshoot common issues, and generally educating them on their pain points, will give them everything they need for a positive experience with your product. 

Advice for building a marketing team from scratch


Make sure you have the right approach and do everything from a consumer-centric point of view. Always think about how your product internally helps the consumer. Testing and identifying areas where you can improve your consumer-centricity is a must.

Once you identify what your consumers want and need, you can work backward to create multidisciplinary teams to reach the goal together.

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