L’Oreal Brandstorm’s Nicholas Niro



Who: Nicholas Niro, 23, Montreal

Why he’s a big deal: This Quebecer went all the way to the U.K. to become a winner at last year’s L’Oréal Brandstorm – the cosmetic company’s student recruiting competition that asked them to create a new sun care product range. Niro, along with British teammates Matt Ives and Ben Hayward, won the U.K. division and placed second overall in the finals in Paris against students from 38 countries.

Their task was to target the teen to young adult demo with Capital Soleil, Vichy’s sun care line. The team took a risk and focused solely on young men, developing a wash-on SPF product for the shower called Magnetic. It featured packaging inspired by the sleek black Vichy Homme look and a rubberized logo, making it easy to grip in the shower.

Niro was in the U.K. at the time completing his master’s in management at the University of Cambridge after an undergrad at Queen’s where he studied art history and sociology – not the usual background for a marketer, but he says, ‘I studied consumer behaviour in sociology and contemporary art in art history, [providing a background in] visuals. It gave me a perspective that laid the foundation for my marketing studies.’

After being recruited out of Brandstorm, he interviewed for L’Oréal in the U.K., but realized he wanted to return to work in Canada, so they forwarded his CV to L’Oréal’s Montreal head office. Since June, Niro has worked as assistant product manager on designer fragrances like Diesel (launching a new scent this summer) and Viktor & Rolf, using his knowledge of that elusive young male demo to get them smelling a little better.

What’s important when it comes to reaching young men?

They’re known as the hardest group to reach, but we do know where they spend most of their time: they’re on their phones and they’re online, compared to women who are more reachable in print – in magazines – and on television. So we’ve tweaked our strategy to target them. Our media is mostly focused on the online and SMS mobile campaign.

You’re part of that demo, so do you think that rings true?

Absolutely. What’s great about it is, I can go home and when I’m having a beer with some friends, I bring this all up. I want to know what their feedback is – my own forum essentially.

How important is community involvement, like L’Oréal’s sponsorship of Luminato, to your generation?

The sponsorship of the arts is crucial because art allows freedom of voice and questioning of our values and standards. Without it we’d be nowhere, and obviously this is my artistic side speaking, but I couldn’t agree more with L’Oréal’s participation with Luminato. It not only sponsors the arts and allows them to flourish, but it also allows a chance for our brands to be implicated.

How has the recession affected your experience as a new member of the industry?

We’re in a time where every dollar spent has to count and that’s a great time to learn because we’re not spending on just anything. Everything has to be accounted for, everything has to be justified. And at L’Oréal it’s a great time to be here because we’re still going through with our plans, we’re just making sure everything has a purpose.

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