On the sixth floor of its Montreal headquarters, L’Oréal Canada has launched a potentially transformative experiment that addresses both the “always on” nature of 21st Century media and the seemingly insatiable consumer appetite for content.
Recognizing the importance of creating content on the fly rather than enduring the sometimes time-consuming process of outsourcing it, the cosmetics giant opened an in-house unit dubbed the “Content Factory” earlier this month.
The Content Factory enables L’Oréal staffers to create original content for the company’s 35 brands that can be quickly uploaded to digital platforms, whether it be YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. The content can take multiple forms, from video makeup tutorials and product reviews to testimonials and product shots.
In development since March, the Content Factory is the brainchild of Ekaterina Dobrokhotova, who joined L’Oréal five years ago as its consumer engagement manger.
“Content creation is one of the key competences for community managers, and my dream has been ‘What if we had the means to create real-time engaging content right in our offices?’” said Dobrokhotova.
L’Oréal claims the Content Factory can help it become more agile in social media channels and in creating integrated brand communications capable of encouraging consumer engagement.
For Dobrokhotova, the Content Factory will generate so-called “unplanned” content not being developed by its internal product teams or agency partners.
“Let’s say there’s something trending, who can be responsive enough for that?” she said. “We did look at an agency model, but even with that there are so many approval processes and a lot of back-and-forth. The most agile set-up is to have an in-house content production studio.”
The Content Factory offers professional lighting, photography and video equipment, while employees can also request help from a freelance photographer and/or creative director.
Dobrokhotova told Marketing an estimated 40% of searches on YouTube are around beauty. “Doing more of that content and tapping into rising queries on those platforms to make sure we are crafting content that people are searching for.”
Beauty is among the most popular content verticals on YouTube, with a recent report from video ad buying and marketing technology company Pixability saying the nearly 2 million beauty videos on the site have accumulated more than 45 billion views.
The report said brand-produced video content on YouTube grew 35% faster than the overall beauty industry last year, which it attributed to a “strategic blend” of paid advertising, organic optimizations and beauty content creator sponsorships.
Dobrokhotova said content could be repurposed for various social media channels, with a 15-second clip from a YouTube video posted to Instagram or adapted for Facebook etc. “The goal for us is to really be a best practice and really distribute the great content we make in a really efficient way so that our media goes further.”
She said content produced in the Content Factory would be complementary to its existing marketing, and doesn’t anticipate it replacing current marketing assets.
“It’s 100% complementary – an extra layer of content we’re creating,” she said. “Honestly we’re just tapping into missed opportunities that we weren’t looking into before.”
The Content Factory has been up and running since mid-November, with L’Oréal already posting photos to Instagram and shooting and editing three long-form videos for its Garnier and Kiehl’s brands.
The former was a test for a new influencer to use on YouTube, while the latter was an internal video intended for in-store sales teams. “Without the Content Factory we would likely never make such a video, but it turned out quite well,” said Dobrokhotova.
Dobrokhotova said she expected the first quarter of 2016 to be “extremely busy” for the unit, with an objective of creating a minimum of one long-form video each day.
L’Oréal joins a growing number of brands that have opened their own in-house content unit including Red Bull and the hotel chain Marriott. The latter launched its global content studio in September 2014, and in March introduced a new short film called Two Bellmen.