The changes made by L'Oréal USA since its 1953 founding have been anything but cosmetic. The US arm of L'Oréal (the world's #1 cosmetics group), L'Oréal USA boasts a host of consumer and luxury brands, including Garnier, Maybelline, Lancôme, and Kiehl's. It also owns salon professional product makers Matrix and Kérastase, as well as mass market label SoftSheen/Carson and perfume brands Ralph Lauren and Giorgio Armani. The division's upscale Lancôme (makeup, skincare) and Dermablend corrective cosmetic lines are sold nationwide in department stores. Additions to its brand portfolio include Clarisonic facial cleansing device (Pacific Bioscience Labs), SkinCeuticals skincare, and nail polish maker Essie Cosmetics.
Like all divisions within the L'Oréal group, L'Oréal USA is organized by its particular distribution channel: North America. Its structure is anticipated to foster a more responsive consumer-facing operation. To this end, the parent also continues to invest heavily in product research and development intended to win a local following.
Although developing markets, such as Asia and Latin America, are the parent's geographic priority, North America delivered a solid increase in profitability in fiscal 2011 (ends December). L'Oréal USA's sales increased by more than 9% over the prior year (as compared the North American cosmetic industry's approximate 4%), and accounted for almost one-quarter of the group's revenue.
In 2011 L'Oréal USA's financial performance was buoyed by a thriving luxury market, consisting of sales in department stores and online, as well as for facial skincare products. The mass market grew too as consumers spent more on make-up, nail varnishes, and liquid foundations.
Purchasing Clarisonic by Pacific Bioscience Laboratories (late 2011) and Essie Cosmetics (2010) was part of the company's strategy to increase its share of the growing luxury and professional beauty care markets. Clarisonic is heavily touted by skin care professionals. Essie's nail colors and treatments, accessories, spa products, and lip glosses are mainly sold in salons and spas.
In addition to expanding its brand portfolio, L'Oréal USA's acquisitions have aimed to consolidate its salon products distribution network. In 2010 L'Oréal USA's SalonCentric division bought out C. B. Sullivan Company, a New England distributor of professional beauty products to salons. The deal followed L'Oréal USA's purchase of three hair salon distributors in the Midwest and Northwest.
L'Oréal USA has also targeted the men's mass market by rolling out the Men's Expert Active Defense System. The skincare line goes head-to-head with Beiersdorf's NIVEA for Men products. L'Oréal has moved into hair color for men, too, under its Couleur Experte label. – less