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  • David Soutoul

The African conquest strategy of L'Oréal

According to market research, the beauty industry in the Middle East and Africa was estimated at about $27.1 billion in 2018. Of this figure, South Africa alone represented $4.5 billion; Nigeria and Kenya are second and third among sub-Saharan nations, with Kenya’s market totalling more than $320 million. In comparison, the Asian market was estimated at $128 billion in the same year.

It’s not a surprise that beauty and skin care products are the fastest selling items in Africa after food! As a result, the outlook for the African cosmetics, beauty and personal care products market is very positive for the coming years as there is so much room for it to grow and become at par with the Asian markets. For several years, L'Oréal, one of the world's leading beauty company, has been aiming to strengthen its market share, based on a revised mapping. L'Oréal has recently announced the creation of a specific zone for sub-Saharan Africa. Since then, more than 1,000 employees have been distributed among the Group's 4 subsidiaries in South Africa, Kenya, Ghana and Ivory Coast. On site, the Research & Innovation and product development teams were able to orient their research according to African specificities. Indeed, the world leader in beauty is aware that it is important to meet the expectations of all consumers and to provide them with the most complete offer. This is the principle of universalization. For example, the teams found that nowadays, 1/3 of African women keep their hair natural and are looking for products that facilitate their hair care routine. L'Oréal therefore launched the “Dark & Lovely” brand, a range of straighteners and products adapted to natural hair. The brand is now considered an undisputed leader throughout sub-Saharan Africa. By understanding the habits of African consumers and providing them with products that meet their needs, L'Oréal has been able to develop brands that are now very well positioned in the buoyant segments of make-up, body and hair care. Furthermore, L'Oréal has also set itself the objective of positioning itself as an employer of reference in sub-Saharan Africa. Indeed, the Group attracts, recruits, retains and develops the best talent there. In 2016, it launched the "Brandstorm", a global competition to attract the best students through a business case. In 4 years, more than 4,000 African students from more than 10 countries have participated. Diversity and inclusion are therefore pillars of L'Oréal's strategy, enabling it to grow considerably in the sub-Saharan African region.

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