L’Oréal Luxe’s JaKenna Gilbert: Social Media To Fuel E-Commerce Success

JaKenna Gilbert has worked in marketing for some of the world’s most luxurious brands in some of the world’s coolest cities. She has created campaigns for Volkswagen, Audi, The Estée Lauder Companies and Coty, Inc. (amongst multiple others) and made her mark in both New York City and Amsterdam. After falling in love – and eventually marrying – a Dane, a move to Copenhagen was on the cards. After networking and interviewing at various places, JaKenna found her perfect role heading digital at the Luxe division of L’Oréal Scandinavia, a job she felt “was a fantastic opportunity and a very good amalgamation of my 10 years of digital experience.”

We asked JaKenna about her tips and tricks for how social media can power the e-commerce experience.  


Image: L’Oreal

I have a team of three and we’re responsible for running all of the paid digital media activities, as well as focusing on the e-commerce acceleration through our owned platforms and e-retailer relationships and collaborations. The Luxe division has several brands within it, to name a few, Lancôme, Biotherm, Giorgio Armani fragrances and beauty, YSL fragrances and beauty, a long list of fantastic designer fragrances, as well as American brands like Kiehl’s and Urban Decay.  We organise a lot of paid media campaigns, primarily on Facebook, Instagram and with a little dabbling into YouTube. We also own the processes around our owned platforms, launching local sites for our key brands, implementing Search strategies, integrating a massive digital asset management system that allows our e-retail clients easy access to product information and assets. We really touch every aspect of digital from the media side to the business side.

It’s a really exciting place to work. L’Oréal as a group just acquired Modiface, an augmented reality and AI technology company that fuels, among other things, virtual try on technology. It’s starting to rollout to markets, so we can start augmenting our owned platforms here and start realising that technology in ways that make sense to our customers and the Nordic consumer.

This makes sense: L’Oréal has always been at the forefront of the tech side of the industry. They were the first to launch the virtual try on app, Makeup Genius, and this was years ago. I remember being at The Estée Lauder Companies and thinking “Oh, L’Oréal is always the first one to try something cool.” And now we’re building on these previous innovations.


Image: Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Because people thumb through their social media feeds quite passively, we have to create something that grabs their attention. We operate by certain principles here: we have to have the branding up front, we have to show the use case of the product and why it’s important. We want to try and lead her into a space where she feels comfortable making the purchase. At first it’s all about understanding who the consumer is and what you’re trying to communicate, so you can set up the right target audiences and the right set of interests. We spend a lot of time with our media agency really trying to pull apart and separate our target audience so we can be sure our content is relevant to her because that’s what is going to get her to pay attention. And then, we focus on the creative and the assets, sifting through the right assets sent from our international teams and creating our own assets that will speak to her.

Luckily, e-commerce is a growing category for us, both for makeup and skincare. I think with the explosion of the vloggers, bloggers and influencers, consumers trust their opinion and they will buy something based on those opinions. But that doesn’t mean their decisions are easy. We see a lot of research showing that if someone opens a product details page for a lipstick, they will hover across two or three lipstick shades over and over and over again, going back and forth between shades to figure out which one works for them. It’s not an easy decision. We’re working now to aid that purchase by developing shade or fragrance finders and other assets to live on those product detail pages to break down any barriers to purchase.

Consumers are comfortable buying things online now, at this point. They do want to play, to have fun. They’ll take a chance and try to experiment a little bit with a new eyeliner. But what we see a lot within e-commerce and in the luxury sector is that it tends to be a replenishment place where people go for the products that they know and they love. The ones that they have been buying for years. So we really focus on the pillar products, our top ten SKUs, the ones we know perform well and we try and elevate them in the e-commerce world. With media campaigns we try and elevate new products – of course we always want the consumer to know that we have new products coming to market, but we really do want to hero our top products online.


Image: rawpixel on Unsplash

Macro influencers are very important as spokespeople but I would say our success comes from the microinfluencers that we work with. You know, the people who might not have 50,000 followers, they might only have 5,000 followers, but those followers are very engaged and they trust that person’s opinion. We’ve seen some really great results this year coming from our microinfluencer campaigns where we’ve activated over 60 people across the Nordics who are all passionate about our brands and who can talk about that to their community. We’ve seen an uptick in social conversation, engagement and content and that’s what’s at the core of influencer marketing, trying to tell the brand’s story in a very authentic way and through personal recommendations to help break down that purchase barrier.

When you look at what other markets are doing, like the platform Boutiqaat in the middle east where influencers are their own shopping network, you can see how vital influencers will be to marketing in the future. These influencers are consistently uploading their favourite looks and content about their makeup products and fashion choices and every single piece of it is shoppable. That’s a very powerful thing, when I think of my everyday life — let’s take fashion for a moment. I have a few shops that I go to for the things that I buy because I know they have quality pieces; I know that they rotate those pieces by season and I trust their eye, so when I go in I always come out with something. Influencers are turning into that same type of bespoke, boutique shop that you trust and you love. As such, when they are exploring new products and looks, you follow them into that world and you trust their advice and you’re more likely to make a purchase based on their taste. There I would say, brands need to be careful about choosing the right influencers who are authentic for their brand so that it doesn’t just become a commercial relationship but it becomes a relationship of trust, of growing together, of exploring together and that’s the balance we need to strike in order to take social commerce to the next level.


Image: Lars Hauschildt

If there’s one channel that has untapped potential, it’s Instagram.  Instagram is the most powerful platform that we have, it has the most engagement, the most daily active users. That said, we’ve seen this shift from in-feed content to Instagram Stories. So if you talk about this convoluted purchase funnel we have, at the core of it, we still have principles we need to tick off: awareness, consideration, conversion. We have to have all three components. Stories gives you that opportunity in a micro way. You can start with an awareness post: what is this brand or product about. The next post you can move into a consideration focus, let’s say it’s a fragrance, let’s explore the notes and the ingredients and try and get some texture there and then you can move into a conversion post that directs them into a product detail page. You have a lot of potential in a very concise environment.

If you’re heading up a brand with a limited budget, I’d suggest not stretching yourself too thin, you can’t do everything at once, pick your power platforms. Know your consumer and focus on them, you can target broadly, but still consider boundaries so that you don’t target so broadly that you’re reaching people who would never ever consider your brand. Instead, create lookalike audiences*, so that based off of the actions of your target group, you can find people with similar traits who are more likely to engage. That eliminates media waste.

It’s a smart strategy, especially when you combine it with retargeting. Once you’re in the second or third phase of your campaign, you’re able to retarget everyone who has engaged with previous phases so you have a really qualified audience you’re leading into a conversion but you’re also reaching new audiences via the lookalike approach.


Image: rawpixel on Unsplash

Retailers have been in the game for a long time, they know their consumers, they know what works. Social media is a new adventure for them. And we would be much stronger if we worked together, collaborated together. Data sharing is a big question we have now. In the past, they’ve been reluctant to share a lot of the e-commerce site and traffic behavioral data and we’ve had to push and say “Well, you know, we’re spending a lot of our digital budget on media traffic to your website and we need to know what that performance looks like.” We’re just now getting to the point where we’re sharing this data because it makes all of our campaigns stronger and the traffic we send that much more qualified.

The one piece of advice I’d offer brands is that there is a fine line between too much and too little. I would say you want to be relevant and be active in the consumer’s lives but you have to be aware that she isn’t just waiting on her phone for an ad to pop up. I personally believe quality over quantity is the best action. You have to put yourself in the mind of the consumer. We don’t want to be spammed by content either, targeted by the same exact ad over and over again, that’s boring. We have to be considerate in the way we communicate with them.

As told to Savant Events.

Catch JaKenna live at Savant eCommerce Stockholm on 18th September, where she’ll be speaking on the retailer panel “Snapstagram! Exploring the symbiotic relationship between social channels and eCommerce.” Get tickets here.

*According to econsultancy.com, “A lookalike audience is an algorithmically-assembled group of social network members who resemble, in some way, another group of members.”


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