Pierre Fabre interview: Updating the business model with Artefact’s Precision Marketing solutions

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Challenge for Pierre Fabre

Pierre Fabre, a leading French pharmaceutical and dermo-cosmetics company, built its success on the quality of its scientifically-formulated products and its close collaboration with health-care practitioners – prescribing doctors and pharmacists with key influence over the act of purchase. This particularity led the company to favour point-of-purchase marketing over direct-to-consumer communication.

We convinced Pierre Fabre to adopt a direct-to-consumer relationship as a strategic development approach for three reasons:

First, the dermo-cosmetic market is under attack by agile digital-native brands addressing niche markets with online communication and distribution codes. Second, omnipresent social networks and user-generated content have seen the rise of “prosumers” – key influencers who challenge the authority of health professionals. And third, online distribution is playing an increasingly important role for the Group in France and abroad.

Aware that a direct-to-consumer shift could result in fragmentation, management saw that transformation of their digital marketing techniques was needed to ensure economic results. The answer: Precision Marketing.

To help Pierre Fabre, we needed to:

  • Prove to potentially change-reticent middle-management – a phenomenon inherent to every business transformation – that Precision Marketing would enable profitable growth, and increase campaign efficiency (i.e. sales) as well as effectiveness (i.e. increase Return On Ad Spend (ROAS — the ROI of a media campaign).
  • Prove that our approach would result in scalable growth, whatever the media ecosystem and the distribution channels in the countries where the group is present.
  • Prove to management that growth was sustainable. We needed to upskill the teams so they could replicate and deploy the Precision Marketing approach.

The challenge was ambitious: create 11 successful pilot campaigns in five European and Asian countries and train over 100 people, in less than six months.


To address Pierre Fabre’s ambitious goals, and in the absence of first party data, Artefact accompanied the marketing and media teams from start to finish, offering all our expertise and methodologies in data consulting, strategic planning, creation, and media buying.

1. Creation of data-driven dermo-cosmetic market consumer profiles

To enable precision campaign conception, detailed knowledge of different consumer targets was needed. Artefact developed eight European profiles, then created versions for typical Korean and Chinese consumers, available for use by all of the Group’s brands.

To be easily interpreted, each profile included more than 100 variables and took biological characteristics into account, such as market penetration rates by age and sex, skin and hair type, etc., personal attitudes (e.g. lifestyle, relationship with the category), purchasing behaviour (shopping channels, brands purchased, buying frequency), and media behaviour (information channels used, social media used, influencers followed, etc.).

To create the profiles, Artefact built a clustering model (a statistical method which separates consumers into homogeneous sets, whole but distinct from each other) using TGI Kantar data, then enriched each profile with complementary social listening data, followed by behavioural analysis by our Strategic Planning team.

2. Conception of Precision Marketing campaigns combining targeted messages and tactical media planning

We needed to turn this information into a media campaign. We linked identified profiles to the USPs (Unique Selling Points) of products featured in each of the campaigns. The goal of each campaign was to develop a matrix of messages cross-referencing Profiles x USP x Funnel progression stages (Awareness, Consideration, Conversion). These matrices were later used as briefs for the agency’s creatives.

These profiles and funnel stages were also used to brief local media agencies; under Artefact’s supervision, they reconstructed the profiles in their media buying platforms, exploiting the targeting data available, in display for example: affinity, in-market, key word, etc.

3. Execution of pilot campaigns for continuous improvement

To maximise campaign efficiency, every week, Artefact applied its proprietary optimisation guide to each campaign, listing all possible optimisation scenarios. This iterative process generated a new performance increment weekly by concentrating on the most effective audiences, targeting, messages, formats, channels, devices, etc.

4. A performance measure for quantifying campaign efficiency and effectiveness

During campaigns, this measure allowed us to maximise efficiency by minimising the cost of expected results: full video views, cost per view, cost per engagement.

After the campaigns, Artefact was also able to quantify effectiveness by measuring increases in awareness, message and product retention, and sales by comparing test populations exposed to campaigns to control populations.

To quantify the sell-out increment, our consultants modelled the sales history of the pilot regions and simulated the turnover they would have generated had they not been exposed to the campaign. This enabled Pierre Fabre to quantify, for the first time, the ROI of a euro invested in digital media.

5. Upskilling teams at the heart of digital transformation.

An ambitious programme of upskilling was implemented to ensure the sustainability of our approach. The programme is built around four pillars:

  • Evangelisation by upper and middle-management of the value of the approach, its principles and its golden rules.

  • The creation of a core Pierre Fabre team, composed of experts trained to replicate the methodology in other countries and for other brands; they will eventually report to the Head of the future Media Department, who will be responsible for monitoring and upskilling.

  • Training by Artefact of 100 people on how to use profiles.

  • Daily coaching of 20 key people on end-to-end implementation of Precision Marketing campaigns.


After six months and 11 pilot campaigns around the globe, the Group’s results are very positive.

Offline sales are up +10% and media efficiency is up +70% (e.g. reduction of cost per full view vs. control).

Our Precision Marketing campaigns showed the different brand and country teams that the approach can adapt to their reality and generate value. They also initiated a real transformation in both mindset and marketing practices.

The next phases are already being developed, with expansion to the Group’s other key countries its entire range of brands.