Vlerick team reaches international L’Oréal Brandstorm finals for the first time

For the first time, a team of Masters in Marketing Management students at Vlerick Business School has reached the world finals of the annual L’Oréal Brandstorm competition. At the L’Oréal headquarters in Paris, Matthias Boterbergh, Eline De Meyer and Diego Bradt competed with some other 40 teams of 3 students. Previously, they made it through the Belgian finals and then the European finals successfully. Although they did not succeed in winning, their achievement in Paris is definitely the icing on the cake after a successful run!

L'Oréal Brandstorm 2017 - team at Paris finals
Matthias Boterbergh, Eline De Meyer and Diego Bradt at the L'Oreal headquarters in Paris

Male grooming products

For 25 years, the L’Oréal Brandstorm has been challenging students from all over the world to develop innovative concepts based on one of L’Oréal Group’s brands. This year, the product was L’Oréal Men Expert. This competition also allows L’Oréal to discover and recruit new talents.

Our students came up with a smart machine for the bathroom which helps men with their morning routine. Eline De Meyer explains: “When you get up, our device tells you what your (working) day looks like, the weather conditions, the traffic situation, which appointments you have, etc. On this basis, the machine provides personalised grooming products which are packaged in small capsules. Not only do you not have to think about it, it stops you forgetting to apply the products. And because the products are packaged in small portions, it means you can have a wider variety of customised products which also have a long shelf life. My background as an engineer certainly came in useful when we were designing the machine and the various functionalities. However, the technologies behind our idea are not actually new. Think of Nespresso, Dettol's automatic soap dispenser or Alexa, Amazon's speech recognition technology, for example. But we are giving these technologies a totally new application.

L'Oréal Brandstorm 2017 - team presentation

Putting knowledge into practice

And L’Oréal were won over. Matthias Boterbergh: “As soon as we reached the national finals in Belgium, we knew that we had a good idea and that our innovation was truly disruptive. We also put a lot of time into our presentation and this clearly bore fruit. It was really fascinating to put the knowledge which we gained during our year at Vlerick into practice. The presentation techniques certainly came in handy. And we would never have got this far without the coaching of Vlerick professor Barbara Briers and guest professor Daniella Langaro, who taught Marketing Management.”

Integrated marketing challenge

The L’Oréal Brandstorm is a compulsory component of the Masters in Marketing Management programme. Professor Barbara Briers explains why. “The Brandstorm forms an extremely concrete but also comprehensive challenge for our students. It allows them to put the knowledge which they have gained during the year into practice. In addition, they need to integrate all the marketing concepts and instruments as a function of a specific brand. In a company, you don't get a step-by-step plan either. It goes without saying that a marketing strategy does tend to follow a relatively fixed pattern. The first step is always the analysis of the market, the brand and the consumer. Then you draw up a marketing plan. It's a good, integrated exercise which helps to prepare them for their careers.”

As well as marketing knowledge, the participants require a hefty dose of creativity. “On the one hand, they must be willing and able to think out of the box, but on the other their innovative concept must actually be feasible. The figures and statistical analysis must add up and the concept needs to tie in with the brand. It is precisely these restrictions which make the project so challenging. And of course you mustn't forget the communication either. It's all well and good coming up with a great idea, but you also need to present it in a convincing, original and clear way. So I am truly proud of what our students have achieved.”