Valérie REVOL, currently Category Sourcing Manager Marketing/Communication at LVMH, has worked for the French luxury goods group for 25 years. For La Lettre du DPO, she looks back at her career in detail and shares her views on the subject of influencer marketing.
What is your background?
I have a master’s degree in LEA (Applied Foreign Languages) and training in export. I got into the purchasing sector by chance. I have been working for the LVMH group for 25 years. I spent 14 years at Chaumet, notably as Head of Non-Production Purchasing, then 6 years at Louis Vuitton as Head of Indirect Purchasing. At Louis Vuitton, I set up the Purchasing Marketing & Communication department within a Purchasing division that included different areas of expertise. There was a transport expert, an IT expert, and so on. For my part, I was in charge of the Marketing and Communications department, which covered quite a wide range of areas, including image, events and digital technology. I then moved on to the holding company where I broadened my scope to include visual merchandising, packaging and customer experience.
At the time, we noticed that houses like Chaumet, which had a lower turnover than houses like Louis Vuitton, were nevertheless using the same partners and suppliers. That is why we set up the Marketing and Communications department at the holding company level, to map and reference the best suppliers/partners to support our houses in their marketing activities.
What are your current responsibilities and how do you work with influencers?
I have been Category Sourcing Manager Marketing/Communication at LVMH since 2017. Overall, I work with the Purchasing communications departments of different types of houses or directly with the communication departments if they do not have a Purchasing department. We work with several categories of influencers. First of all, the ‘biggest influencers’, who are akin to celebrities and who can be muses of brands, like the Italian influencer Chiara Ferragni. Their contractual and financial information is subject to the strictest confidentiality. We also work with ‘micro-influencers’, who mainly work for perfume and cosmetics brands. These ‘micro-influencers’ are most often recruited, managed and supervised by external service providers. Influencers have forced press relations agencies to evolve and steer a whole new course. Since 2015, influencers have taken the place of journalists, particularly in the front rows of fashion shows. Previously organising press trips, communication departments now organise influencer trips. Contrary to popular belief, influencers are real professionals and do real work. They arrive early and are constantly on the lookout for the best spot to take the best photograph to post. They also have to manage their follower count. Influencers have become very powerful, with some of them now more powerful than certain of our brands. In these circumstances, influencer posts make it possible to reach a much wider audience.
How do you see the future of influencer marketing?
There has been a paradigm shift. We have gone from a system in which luxury houses were the winners to a system in which brands must, to some degree, court influencers so that they will promote their products, with an impact that may be out of all proportion with the purchase of a page of advertising. That said, influencer marketing has not replaced traditional advertising; the two are complementary. Only a few years ago, the level of power of influencer marketing was not measured and there were fewer communication media, so it was easier for a brand to control the channels through which its advertising campaigns were distributed. In this era of influencers, communication media have multiplied. This makes it more difficult than before to control brand image, which may be exposed to risks. Against this backdrop, the Law of 9 June 2023, aimed at regulating influencer marketing and combating abuses by influencers on social networks, is welcome even if to a certain extent it has arrived a little late in respect of such abuses. These abuses are likely to increase with the use of artificial intelligence in the context of content creation.