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Category winner: Ombre, Tie-Dye, Splat Hair:
Trends or Fads? “Pull” and “Push”
Social Media Strategies at L’Oréal Paris

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This case won the Marketing category at The Case Centre Awards and Competitions 2017.
The case
L'Oreal logo

Who – the protagonists

Marie Gulin, VP of Global Integrated Communications at L'Oréal Paris and her team.


In 2011, the L'Oréal Paris team began to notice celebrities sporting original hair dye fashions, for example, colour applied horizontally to look like sun-lightened hair that was growing out or, more dramatically, a tie-dye style with bright colours. ‘Splat’ was also trending, with bright splashes of colour applied to hair.Ombre hair style


Hair colouring was a L'Oréal mainstay, but the outlook for expansion in the home-colouring market at the start of 2012 was not promising. Despite its reputation for innovation and research, the company was having trouble identifying a new product opportunity in what was an ultra-competitive market. 

Marie was convinced that if a new trend could be identified, social media would be a game-changer in the hair colour market, enabling L'Oréal Paris to get ahead of its competitors and revitalise its position in the market.


Eugene Schueller

Eugène Paul Louis Schueller founded L'Oréal in France in 1909, the year after he patented an innovative hair dye.


By 2011, the company had hubs in America, Japan, China, India and Brazil, plus 22 research centres and 17 evaluation centres. Its brands include Lancôme, The Body Shop, Vichy, Garnier and Softsheen Carson.

hairdresser dying hair

Key quote

‘In 2011, the hair colour market lacked sparkle. Innovations were scarce and marketing strategies revolved around creating a variation of a new hair colour and finding celebrity endorsement. L'Oréal Paris was keen to break out of the traditional industry and to revitalise its hair colour lines.’ – From the case

What next?

Crucially, the team needed to create engagement around the brand using social media. Marie’s team had to come up with a plan to create awareness, excite consumers about the new product, get them to try it, and create loyal advocates. Plus the campaign would have to appeal to worldwide markets. What was the best way forward?

Interested in finding out more?

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The authors

David Dubois and Katrina Bens

authorSDavid and Katrina explain how technology has affected marketing and why it’s much more than a fad.

First marketing case

Winning this award means a lot to us – even more so as it was the first marketing case we ever wrote!

The type of decisions that digital and marketing executives must take – from choosing a platform, designing a content strategy or even partnering with the ‘right’ online influencers – tend to change rapidly as technology becomes obsolete. However, the advent of digital has also changed the way successful companies approach marketing challenges above and beyond technological change.

Receiving this award comes as a confirmation of the impetus that got us started in the first place: digital and social media strategy is much more than a fad, and there are systematic ways marketing executives can think about using and leveraging online channels to create growth.

Social media icons

Widely relevant

The case describes L’Oréal’s bold decision to develop a new brand based on online trends showing a growing customer interest for the ombre hairstyle. Particular attention is paid to the marketing team’s step-by-step decision-making process when implementing Wild Ombre’s social media marketing strategy, and the resulting double-digit sales growth.

Going beyond the case of L’Oréal, the case describes how companies can fully integrate digital and social media in their strategies and as a result, by pulling and pushing content, they can dynamically create ‘value loops’ and successfully capture and create new value.

INSEAD web page

Easy to use

We designed this case to facilitate its adoption and use by instructors across the board. Thus, we included a teaching note, along with video materials, and ideas for in-class exercises to make the pedagogical experience as interactive and as fruitful in terms of participant learnings as possible.

One in-class exercise that is a lot fun entails asking participants to use online analytical tools to identify a promising trend (in any market), and then design the positioning and communication strategy for a new brand based on customer insights.


Pierre Chandon

Our colleague Pierre Chandon who holds the L’Oréal Chair at INSEAD was instrumental in making this collaboration possible. L’Oréal also saw this as an exciting opportunity to start a collaboration on a topic central to its overall marketing strategy.

About the authors

David Dubois is Assistant Professor of Marketing at INSEAD.
e david.dubois@insead.edu
tw @d1dubois

Katrina Bens is a Marketing Specialist and was previously a Research Associate at INSEAD.
e katrinabens@gmail.com


View all the 2017 winners