Combat action at La Roche-Posay! On March 18, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, L'Oréal chose this brand and its factories all over the world to manufacture and supply health authorities with hydroalcoholic gel: hospitals, nursing homes, etc. de dermocosmétique also produces bottles for the general public, at an affordable price (2.25 euros per unit). “We managed to mobilize very quickly, says Laetitia Toupet, CEO of La Roche-Posay International. Responsiveness due to the teams, but also to the fact that La Roche-Posay has always been a partner of the medical community, especially hospitals. Such action is in our DNA. “
Of the entire L’Oréal galaxy, La Roche-Posay is in fact its most “medicalized” brand – including within the active cosmetic division, to which it belongs (Vichy, SkinCeuticals, Sanoflore, etc.). A positioning that the group has continued to strengthen since the acquisition in 1989. The laboratory then achieved fifteen million euros in turnover. Good pick: last year, he joined the club of billionaire brands of the world number one in cosmetics, alongside L'Oréal Paris, Lancôme or Kiehl's… La Roche-Posay claims to be today the first world dermocosmetics label , in front of Avène (Pierre Fabre), Eucerin or Neutrogena. Difficult to confirm, given the opacity of the data among all these players.
Historical “blue gold”
Nice journey for a business created in 1974 by René Levayer, pharmacist of his state, with less than half a dozen products, including a paste with water for diaper rash of babies. Initially, a source – bought in 2004 by L’Oréal -, “blue gold” as it is called in La Roche-Posay, where residents still come to fill their water cans at the fountain in the city center. The water in this Poitou commune is rich in minerals with beneficial properties for the skin: selenium, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, silica and calcium, soothing and healing …
Legend has it that this magic potion was discovered in the 16th century, when the stallion of a knight of Henry IV, gnawed by eczema, fell into a pond in the village and saw his illness heal immediately. Later, Napoleon I built a barrack there for his soldiers wounded during the campaigns. The La Roche-Posay cure, whose buildings seem straight out of Mont-Oriol de Maupassant, a story about a spa town, opened in 1905. It is devoted to skin pathologies: psoriasis, eczema, burn victims … Or even post-cancer care. Long owned by a family, it was also bought in late 2018 by L’Oréal. What further strengthen the medical DNA of the brand: “We come back to the basics, since all the treatments go through a medical prescription and are taken care of”, says Olivier Maschi, director of development of the thermal center.
Big pharma codes
Laetitia Toupet assures him: “We are the only brand recommended by 90,000 dermatologists in the world.” To obtain this medical guarantee, the brand adopted the codes of big pharma very early on. A field which is not entirely unknown to L’Oréal, long parent company of Synthélabo, until its merger in 1999 with Sanofi. Examples: the color code of the packaging, blue and white sanitized, synonymous with care, calm and seriousness; and the sales circuit, only in pharmacies and drugstores. The laboratory also deploys a network of medical visitors who criss-cross offices and hospitals, armed with samples. The pharmacies, they are cleverly divided into POS (point of sale advertisements), test doses and even training. “Faced with consumers looking for care – and not cosmetics – being able to inform themselves and test is a real La Roche-Posay is certainly the most aggressive brand in this area, “said a Parisian pharmacist.
From big pharma, the laboratory has mainly retained the firepower of research. It's been more than ten years that it multiplies clinical and epidemiological studies. Not useless in the era of the informed consumer and of Yuka, mobile gendarme and champion of safe … Thus, Lipikar (dry and atopic skin), become blockbuster – a bottle sold every 6 seconds in the world. The latest addition to the family, Lipikar AP + M, is the result of original work on the skin microbiome, the microbial flora of the skin. It contains a new natural active ingredient, microresyl, and aqua posae filiformis, an active ingredient derived from a bacterium cultivated in La Roche-Posay thermal water. “A discovery from joint research with Biotherm (another brand from L’Oréal), which we have been able to cultivate on an industrial scale,” said microbiologist Richard Martin. The development of aqua posae represents $ 3 billion in investments for L’Oréal over five years (2019-2024). Lipikar AP + M has been the subject of 32 clinical studies on more than 14,000 patients and nine scientific publications.
Paid tactics. Having set out to conquer the world, La Roche-Posay made more than half of its international sales in 2019, including a large share online, expanding the digital furrow. “We want to be the Apple of the skin, at the forefront of science and innovation,” insists Laetitia Toupet. At the request of the American giant, in 2018 it designed My Skin Track UV, a sensor that measures exposure to the sun, pollution and pollen, sold exclusively by Apple. She also launched Spotscan, an app for acne-prone skin, intended for doctors and patients. Or the Dermclass, followed by tens of millions of followers on social networks. La Roche-Posay has even just launched survival containment coaching on Instagram, with a slew of experts (yoga teacher, physiotherapist, pediatrician, nutritionist, etc.). Enough to soften the ordeal, and consolidate its sympathy capital, while waiting for the exit certificate.