Every workday, on the 10th floor of an office building overlooking central Jakarta, L'Oreal employees are in 14 different studios live-streaming the brand's products from Maybelline, L'Oreal, and Garnier.
Some rooms have been allocated for live-streams on TikTok, while others are for live-streaming on ecommerce platforms like Shopee, Lazada, and Tokopedia. The live-stream hosts sit in front of a green screen with L'Oreal products, with multiple cameras trained on them.
Like other brands in Indonesia, L'Oreal has been investing heavily in live commerce on platforms and ecommerce marketplaces, because the country ranks as the second largest user of TikTok globally as Indonesians scroll through and spend many hours on the app daily.
Giving Campaign the tour of the studios is Fabian Prasetya, the chief digital and media officer at L'Oreal, who explains the total time spent by the brand on live-streaming is 24 hours across Maybelline, L'Oreal, and Garnier.
"Before the pandemic, our stores had beauty advisors and experts, like in the luxury division with Kiehl's. These people possess in-depth knowledge of our products, their usage and provide recommendations and consultations," Prasetya tells Campaign.
"During the pandemic, when offline interactions were limited, we utilised their expertise to connect with consumers online. We introduced ecommerce and used WhatsApp to help consumers purchase products. The live-streaming trend also emerged during the pandemic, which changed the ecosystem."
As the frequency of live-streaming increased, L'Oreal realised the need for a dedicated facility to ensure its beauty experts could deliver their messages effectively to consumers. According to data from Stickler, a platform which tracks brands' live-streams across platforms, L'Oreal-owned brands in Indonesia stream 500 hours in total.
To address the demand for live-streaming, the brand built six live-streaming rooms in its office to accommodate their needs, increasing to 14. During Campaign's visit, L'Oreal was renovating the rest of the rooms to ensure they were ready for use.
"We focus on selling products through live-streaming and prioritising connecting with our consumers. Being there for them is crucial, providing the correct product information, recommendations, and usage guidance," explains Prasetya.
"By offering holistic knowledge about our product range, we enhance the live-streaming experience. The sessions allow us to connect with consumers on a deeper level and build stronger relationships with them."
Instead of relying on influencers and creators like other brands for live-streaming, L'Oreal prefers to use its staff as it believes that being a part of the beauty industry requires extensive knowledge of skincare, makeup, and other beauty products.
The brand has a dedicated training and development team under its professional product division to enhance its educational capabilities to ensure its live-stream staff are up to scratch. That said, the brand is not averse to working with influencers outside of livestreaming.
"We aim to provide consumers with concrete educational information when they ask questions during live-streams. Our vision as a company is to create beauty that moves the world, so it's essential to offer comprehensive knowledge to consumers," says Prasetya.
"Today, these experts play a crucial role in live-streaming, not just for selling products but also for answering questions from viewers. The live-streaming format allows viewers to connect with them directly. If viewers have skincare concerns or need product recommendations, they can get immediate responses and purchase products now on platforms like TikTok."
Before the physical studios were built, L'Oreal staff has to live-stream from their homes, while others joined sessions from meeting rooms for more space. The brand initially encountered issues like poor lighting and background noise, but adding ring lights and enhancing Internet connectivity helped.
Choosing the right live-stream platform
From official and unofficial data, TikTok Shop has changed the game in Indonesia. Shopee, Lazada, Grab and some local players have done versions of live commerce, but TikTok changed the game by adding the Chinese functionality to local merchants.
According to Fionn Hyndman, the founder of Stickler, the other platforms did not replicate what was happening in China, and were a poor facsimile of how it worked with live broadcast repeats.
For example, these platforms must deal with a customer service nightmare when consumers ask questions on a repeat of a live-stream, and there is no one there to answer them.
"For TikTok and the functionality they have launched with a frictionless basket and in-video purchase, we hear and have seen that turn into success. From our understanding, TikTok live commerce in Indonesia has gone from launch to $1 billion in monthly sales, growing at 30% monthly," says Hyndman.
"That is unbelievable, and it is not just Indonesia as the country gets the press because of the sheer volume and size of the market. Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines are also growing like crazy, with Malaysia and Singapore following the same trend."
Hyndman says TikTok sets itself apart from other platforms by offering live commerce directly within videos, allowing users to buy products instantly without leaving the video. The platform's algorithm effectively matches users with desired outcomes, making the shopping experience addictive.
Unlike other platforms, TikTok has successfully created a fly-wheel effect with many sellers and concurrent live channels, increasing supply and demand.
TikTok executed its journey from short videos to live shopping without immediate buying capability well, building pent-up demand before introducing live commerce. This approach has proven successful in various markets globally.
However, L'Oreal is platform-agnostic in live-streaming, ensuring multiple touchpoints with its audience. The brand began live-streaming before TikTok Shop launched in Indonesia, conducting streams on Shopee and Lazada. For example, the brand previously held a grand opening event on Lazada, where it created an online shop to connect with consumers through live-streaming.
The brand observes that on ecommerce platforms, some viewers ask questions to better understand the products before purchasing. Live-streaming, therefore, is a source of information and confirmation for potential buyers, aiding their decision-making process.
At the same time, it allows the brand to address consumer needs, respond to their queries, and establish connections.
"While there might be differences in technical aspects, our focus remains on providing our customers with a seamless and enjoyable live-streaming experience. For example, people often intend to buy products when they watch live-streams on shopping platforms. In contrast, on platforms like TikTok, some viewers might initially watch without the intention to purchase but want to ask questions and seek information about the products," shares Prasetya.
The right live-streaming strategy
Flash sales and special deals work on live-streams, but their impact is limited if they are not part of a more extensive and continuous approach.
For example, during the recent Hari Raya holiday in Indonesia, Somethinc, one of the cosmetics brands Stickler tracked in Indonesia, made a flash sale only available if they reached a certain number of likes. The brand encouraged consumers to share the stream for more viewers and a higher discount.
This resulted in over a million likes in a few minutes and a massive spike in interaction. However, this would not have worked unless the brand was already live, building up to the flash sale.
"Building anticipation and engagement, you cannot just do it as a one-off; more accurately, you can, but you'll need to support it with a bunch of media spend," explains Hyndman.
"Loyalty is an interesting one, just like your favourite shopkeepers; good hosts know their viewers, and the viewers tune in for more than just buying; they create communities that answer other customers' questions, come back time and time again and should be nurtured."
According to Stickler data, Skintific, a brand in Indonesia, showcases six concurrent live-streams for 12 to 18 hours a day. L'Oreal has focused primarily on Maybelline, L'Oréal Paris, and Garnier regarding stream numbers.
Prasetya explains each brand under L'Oreal has its unique proposition and way of communicating with consumers.
For instance, L’Oréal Paris’ 'Make it Worth It' campaign emphasises the worth and empowerment of women, while Garnier focuses on bringing beauty to everyone. This individualised approach is why L'Oreal conducts live-streaming events tailored to each brand.
"We've been successfully engaging in 24-hour live-streaming events for our consumer product division brands, specifically Maybelline, L'Oreal, and Garnier," says Prasetya.
"These brands have fully embraced the concept of live-streaming to connect with their audience and showcase their products effectively. However, not every brand has fully adopted it as a strategy. Nonetheless, we continue to explore and implement live-streaming as an essential tool for brand communication and consumer engagement."