What was your experience of the lockdowns at M.A.C. Cosmetics?

Sabrina Herlory - I’m not going to lie, it was - and still is - hard! But at the same time, it was exhilarating. The world to come is going to be like this: we’re all going to be disrupted 70,000 times in our lives and we’re going to have to get out of our comfort zone more regularly. For managers like me, this means making quick decisions based on partial information and no longer with full knowledge of the facts. And this is not an ability that can be learnt overnight, it’s a muscle that you train throughout your life.

What measures have you taken to withstand the crisis?

Sabrina Herlory - We have trained our sales consultants in "virtual selling", i.e. one-to-one personalized advice at a distance. This has been appreciated by the teams, who have suffered quite a lot during these periods of partial unemployment, which are very depressing. They realized that even if there was pressure on the retail sector, their occupation could evolve, thanks to digital technology and not disappear!

And does "virtual selling" work for makeup?

Sabrina Herlory - Many doubted it, but I can tell you that, yes, it’s very interesting from a human point of view and from a pure business point of view as well. The one-to-one digital concept is a bubble even more insulated than the physical experience in the store. It allowed us to maintain a connection with our customers, who are used to human interaction when buying makeup. We launched these virtual appointments in September 2020 and 70% of the customers who received advice remotely then moved on to a physical store. Real, remote personalized advice can channel traffic for brands when the stores reopen.

Is the humanization of digital the next step?

Sabrina Herlory - I’m convinced it is! This was the missing piece, and the lockdown allowed us to implement it, thanks to digital tools. It’s quite satisfying to say that yes, there has been an explosion of the digital, but what we’re learning is that consumers need to talk to real people! For me, the brands that understand this will be the ones that will remain sustainable. If we can prove that the humanization of digital is turning into R.O.I., live chats will be one-to-one, remote consultations will be one-to-one... Because we are all social animals with a real need for quality human interactions. And that goes beyond sales.

What does that mean?

Sabrina Herlory - Today, if a brand is not organically socially committed to a 360-degree project, I think it will not be able to count in the world to come: it’s "how I treat customers, my suppliers, what footprint do I leave, how do managers treat their employees". I see more and more managers deeply preoccupied by this global commitment. They often come from the next generation, I must say. They are socially engaged, and that’s very gratifying!