L’Oréal Paris is launching a loyalty rewards program tied to philanthropy, taking a cue from competitor Sephora, which has played a significant role in driving the concept of humanitarian-focused beauty.
The Worth It Rewards program encompasses the brand’s cosmetic, hair color, hair care and skin care products, and consumers accrue five points for every dollar when they make purchases online and at retail stores. These points can then be used toward future purchases or donated to organizations represented by recipients of L’Oréal’s Women of Worth awards, an annual awards event that recognizes women for their work in altruistic fields.
L’Oréal is banking on leveraging the ingrained loyalty of beauty shoppers, who have a tendency to develop affinities for specific products and shades, by funneling it to causes that may in turn promote future purchases. In structure, Worth It Rewards takes after programs like Sephora’s Beauty Insider, which provides top shoppers with access to exclusive products drops, as well as gifts and beauty classes.
Erich Joachimsthaler, founder and CEO of Vivaldi, said despite L’Oréal’s efforts, loyalty programs can at times have detrimental effects on brands. Though he said such programs in beauty tend to work well due to high levels of engagement with products, the philanthropic connect may be fraught or unclear to shoppers.
“We live in an attention economy where consumers don’t think of short-term benefits and long-term rewards,” he said. “If a consumer really wants to benefit Women of Worth, then L’Oreal should encourage a direct contribution, which would translate to more benefits than tying the contribution to a point system.”
The decision to incorporate a philanthropic element is a response to the growing focus on cause marketing that has cropped up in fashion and beauty. Sephora launched its Sephora Stands program a year after the company was founded in 1970, which has since evolved to include an accelerator program for female entrepreneurs, an internal employee support program and makeup tutorials for women recovering from challenging events, like domestic abuse or serious illness.
“The beauty category is one that a lot of other business verticals should look at in doing cause and philanthropy really well,” Max Lenderman, CEO of the cause-marketing specialized agency School, told Glossy in a previous story. “They’ve done a very good job in finding insight and then activation around some of the core issues that face their audience.”
Sephora has also garnered customer loyalty through its IQ programs that allow consumers to get a better understanding of makeup and fragrance preferences. The IQs allow them to answer quizzes online or in store to determine personalizes shades and scent palettes, and then use this to make purchases and store data for future shopping experiences.
As part of the Women of Worth program, which was started 11 years ago, L’Oréal honors ten women who work for charitable causes and announces them at an annual gala. The award winners are given $10,000 to support their causes. Last year’s winners hailed from organizations like Extra-Ordinary Birthdays, which throws birthday parties for homeless children and Safe Hands for Girls that educates communities about the dangerous effects of female genital mutilation.