POWER PLAY: As part of building a more prestige image for the mass L'Oreal Paris brand, Ms. Hamilton recently launched the first standalone retail store in Los Angeles featuring the brand's array of hair color, cosmetics, skincare and haircare products. The store, dubbed The Living Lab, is intended to help L'Oreal learn more about consumers in a realistic setting. Ms. Hamilton, 52, is also overseeing the influx of a variety of technology-driven launches, including an expansion of the successful True Match foundation line, new Cashmere Perfect cream foundation without water, a new transfer-proof lip segment called Endless Kissable and the ReFinish two-step micro-dermabrasion kit. In its largest segment, hair color, L'Oreal is putting marketing muscle behind products that are designed for teenagers and men. L'Oreal this year signed pop star Jewel to represent its Feria hair color line already touted by Beyonce.
DOWNSIDE: Advanced technology has its dangers. L'Oreal recently had to pull its technologically savvy new hair color brand, L'Oreal Open, citing consumers' difficulty understanding the product in a category that thrives on innovations. And while L'Oreal cites the skincare category as its biggest growth driver, it faces stiff competition from the prestige channel's armada of beauty advisers. Ms. Hamilton, like rival Revlon, hopes to test the concept of beauty advisers with some of L'Oreal's larger mass retail partners.