Ana Melara (MBA 07), Director Global Digital Communications & Community at L’Oréal Corporate
Ana Melara is an international business professional with over 10 years of experience, always applying her passion for consumer insights to marketing in the digital age. In this interview she shares with us her experiences in L’Oréal Corporate digital communication along with how she is dealing with the Covid-19 crisis.
-Since 2016 you have been Global Director of Digital Communications & Community at L’Oréal. What is your role in this position?
Chiefly, I lead the Digital Community Engagement within L’Oréal globally by bringing together digital marketing, content strategy, business acumen and technology expertise to digitalize the beauty experience of countries and brands, facilitating collaboration and knowledge sharing within the organization.
I also cross-functionally develop and manage the global content strategy based on digital priorities established by our Chief Digital Officer, country feedback and business requirements, analytics, and digital best practices. The goal is to communicate & engage with the global organization by creating experiences that are informative, useful, and business oriented. We scale proven cross-functional, cross-county best practices across teams in order to to ensure that the organization is aligned with the strategy.
Finally, I support the Global Program Management Officer (PMO) in the successful implementation of processes and meetings to foster global collaboration on key digital transformation programs. Therefore, I partner with country CMO teams, divisional CDO teams, Digital Heads of Brands and Digital IT teams, to create seamless, tailored and disruptive platforms and forums for L’Oréal Global Digital Community.
It’s challenging because I work with a lot of international teams.
-What is L’Oréal’s position in Digital Communications and Community?
We are a digital first business. So digital is a priority in all departments, not just in our department, but also in Marketing, Communication, HR…
-What are the goals for your division and how do you assess the achievements so far?
L’Oréal’s Digital Corporate team is made up of 100 people led by Lubomira Rochet, Chief Digital Officer, who are responsible for ensuring that each country, division and brand have its own digital agenda while at the same time adhering to a global strategy. We have five pillars: corporate digital communication, ecommerce acceleration, consumer relations, which include digital media, CRM…, Love Brand, which includes influencers relations, own media and advocacy, and finally Digital Services, whic is a core idea we have added this year. After the ModiFace purchase, the team has accelerated the development and rollout of virtual make-up and hair try-ons, online AI-based skin diagnostics and livestreaming with beauty assistants, solving problems for our customers through beauty services.
-How are you coping with the situation triggered by Covid-19? What trends do you think will stand out in digital communication in the coming years?
L’Oréal is a company very committed to its employees and its consumers, especially in the situation we live in marked by Covid-19. Regarding the business, we have noticed seasonality in the products being sold. We have seen a cycle where sales go down at the beginning and then go up in basic needs, such as shampoo or hand cream due to the dryness caused by soap and alcohol, and everything you can do at home, like hair colouring and facial treatments for example. So ecommerce has gone up a lot compared to stores that are currently closed, and digital strategy is now crucial to enable us to communicate with our consumers. Now there is more livestreaming, tips, ‘how to’ and so on, which is designed to show people what they can do at home. In short, the priorities and means change, but the relationship with consumers persists. Health and making sure everyone is safe is the number one priority for L’Oréal, but at the same time we have the chance to talk to our consumers on a one-on-one basis in confidence and bring them added value in this situation.
As far as telecommuting is concerned, most of the actions are carried out by Teams and communication has to be more structured and to the point with short and snappy meetings which enable us to meet targets. Organisation is particularly significant at this time along with remote leadership to set priorities week by week.
-Speaking of digital transformation, how is the company addressing all the changes that are in store?
Our team also manages an innovation programme with a start-up accelerator that allows us to give them advice regarding the beauty market, to learn from and give feedback to each other. Ethics, sustainability… these are trends that are coming on strong, but it’s an environment that changes all the time. Consumers change, too. Covid-19, for example, has changed how we interact and shop and maybe our values as well.
-What are your biggest challenges in the cosmetics sector?
Grabbing consumers’ attention is the biggest challenge. People get so many inputs and information that we are at digital saturation point. Finding the tone, the form, the moment to be relevant for our consumers is the most important thing.
-You have mostly worked at L’Oréal, where you have held various posts in Germany, New York and Paris for 11 years. What has this international journey been like? What has been most rewarding about it? And most difficult?
I always wanted to study and work abroad, so I left home at the age of 17 to study in the Netherlands and Spain. Then I started working for L’Oréal in Germany, and since it is a multinational, there are opportunities to develop an international career. Although it has a similar culture in all countries, it is still important to understand the differences in each culture and adjust to them, which can take about six months depending on the country and culture. In Germany, for example, structure and order are very important, while in France work is more flexible and relational… However, in the United States everything went very fast, but the separation between work and private life is important. So you have to understand the culture of each place and adjust to it, while at the same time you need to be able to bring something different. I am very American in my management style, which is more cross-cutting and participative and provides opportunities for growth and development, and I like to get this across to my teams because I think it works with me and with them.
-What is your relationship with the Esade Alumni International Chapters?
I was in touch with the New York Chapter during my stay there and also with the Paris Chapter, where I go to lifelong-learning sessions and meet other alumni as well as the rest of the industry. Some of my best friends abroad are Esade alumni, so I think it’s very exciting to have an international network.
-What does Esade mean to you personally and professionally?
I have extremely good memories of my time at Esade. The added value of the lecturers, who are world-class academics yet also in touch with business reality, means Esade is more than just a university. Its culture and community are fantastic.