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e many companies seek to homogenize their brands to make them palatable in myriad cultures, Owen-Jones has taken L'Oreal's products in the opposite direction. He wants them to embody their country oforigin. So he has turned what many marketing gurus consider a narrowing factor into a marketing virtue.
As the competition intensifies, Owen-Jones is likely to continue making acquisitions. He haspurchased five companies in six years. The company is actively exploring acquisition targets elsewhere in Asia.

Last year, the company acquired Soft Sheen, a U.S. line of hair-care products aimed atAfrican-American women. Owen-Jones intends eventually to use it as a springboard for expanding into Africa. L'Oreal is expanding rapidly in India since it introduced its L'Oreal Excellence line ofhair color in 1997--the first time a company dared sell any color other than black. In Mexico, L'Oreal ranks No. 1, with a 28% spurt in sales last year. Most of all, though, Owen-Jones is eager toimprove L'Oreal's poor market position in Japan, whose $25.4 billion cosmetics market is second-largest in the World

L'Oreal is also taking greater risks with its in-house projects, partly to be sureeach of its brands stands out with its own image. ''That's a big challenge for this company--to add brands, yet keep the differentiation,''

To sell the new Helena Rubinstein line, L'Oreal has openeda New York spa--the first time L'Oreal has tried to run a retail operation. And the target market is younger and trendier than L'Oreal's typical luxury customers. It's not clear how well the companywill be able to manage its ever-growing stable of upscale beauty brands while mixing it with street-wise new products

A decade ago, about 75% of the company's $5.5 billion annual sales were fromEurope, the bulk of it in France. In 2004, 85 % of L'Oreal's consolidated sales were in markets outside France.
"L'Oreal is the only real global leader in every segment of the industry."2 Whether it...
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