L'Oreal competition is cosmetic

Updated: 2012-07-16 07:54

By Li Fangfang (China Daily)

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L'Oreal competition is cosmetic

With their colorful dotted packs, specially tailored functions and competitive pricing, Jiaojiao-branded cosmetics seem ideal for China's young women.

However, much as they look like the latest product of the world famous brand Yue-Sai, they are but the brainchild of three undergraduates and are not, at least for now, on sale.

Jin Yejie, Chen Zhouyi, and Chen Tianle, three junior students from Shanghai Jiaotong University, came up with the imaginary Jiaojiao for the national final of the L'Oreal Brandstorm 2012 competition held in Shanghai.

For the competition, they formed a team called MAX, developed and presented Jiaojiao's characteristics and created a marketing, branding and retail strategy as three bosses of a fully operational offshoot of L'Oreal.

"It will be the most cherished memory and experience in my life because we acquired more than we could have imagined from the business simulation game," said Jin, majoring in English language with an orientation toward finance and business.

"The more than half year of teamwork, from the first idea to the final implementation, step by step, helped us transfer the knowledge we learned in the library into practice. It will benefit us for our whole lives," said Chen Tianle, who is majoring in marketing at the university.

Although MAX came second in the competition, the three members were more than satisfied with the result. Chen Zhouyi, who is majoring in environment engineering, said the experience could enable him, a science student, to become a real brand manager.

Established in 1993 as a global marketing and brand management competition targeting undergraduates and graduate students with a spirit for innovation and an interest in marketing, the annual event attracts students from top universities worldwide. As of 2012, 50,000 students from 280 universities had participated in it.

Since it came to China in 2003, L'Oreal Brandstorm has successfully held 10 contests targeting marketing students from renowned domestic universities. It has been highly praised for having an exceptional reputation by experts and scholars in the marketing field.

The competition consists of a marketing-related subject with a practical training tool and stringent standards.

All the competitions have been related to the cosmetics industry, providing competitors with plenty of scope for creativity. They have also provided experts within the industry as mentors.

In its 10 years in China, L'Oreal Brandstorm has gained both in size and influence - from an initial three universities to today's nine, from 100 contestants to more than 700.

This year, 238 teams from nine top Chinese universities were whittled down to a final 36 students from 12 teams competing in the last segment of the competition.

After many exhilarating twists and turns, the 3 Idiots team from Fudan University nabbed the 2012 L'Oreal Brandstorm China championship and their fellow students the Mad Peppers took third place.

"When you approach a brand, and really examine it up close, your understanding of it will be much more varied and nuanced than when viewed from a distance," said Wu Lijie of 3 Idiots, who is majoring in advertising.

"We had prepared for the competition in advance mainly by observing the brand from an external perspective - gleaning information from websites and books on L'Oreal, Yue-Sai, the general cosmetics markets and looking at competitors," said Huang Jiye, also majoring in advertising.

"This was all conducted meticulously but it is hard not to still end up with a blurred picture. L'Oreal professional staff taught us how to collect and really analyze market data and results," said classmate Zhang Qiu.

This year's L'Oreal Brandstorm required contestants to design a sub-brand targeting the younger generation for L'Oreal's Yue-Sai, including establishing brand positioning, creating a product line and coming up with a strategy for advertising and marketing.

The competition also celebrated Yue-Sai's 20th anniversary.

Twenty years ago, the brand brought for the first time to Chinese women the international trends in beauty and makeup techniques. After being acquired by L'Oreal in 2004, thanks to L'Oreal's innovation abilities, Yue-Sai boosted the effects of Chinese traditional medicinal ingredients with pioneering modern technology and developed products that are best suited to the skin of Chinese women.

Having contestants work out strategies for Yue-Sai products not only demonstrates L'Oreal's commitment to developing the talents of young people, but also the great attention it pays to the sustained innovation of China's homegrown brand.

The challenges Yue-Sai faces today are multifaceted: How to establish a new brand image in the ever-changing China market and how to meet the demands of the young generation while still maintaining a strong connection with the mature parent generation.

Under these circumstances, L'Oreal had contestants design a sub-brand capable of attracting young customers while at the same time communicating the mother brand's core values and heritage. The idea was that the unbridled innovative potential of university students coupled with the Yue-Sai brand grounded in traditional Chinese culture but boasting technological advances would give rise to endless possibilities.

"I was really impressed by the students as they demonstrated to the audience their capability for creative thinking, using the tools of new media to create innovative plans that highlighted the uniqueness of their comprehensive brand strategies for Yue-Sai and providing audiences and judges with a whirlwind of innovative ideas," said Alexis Perakis-Valat, chief executive officer of L'Oreal China.

L'Oreal Group's "Business School in Practice" is known for its leading expertise in marketing and brand management.