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Case Study

Eau Thermale Avène

How Avène mastered digital word-of-mouth marketing See the success an "always-on" influencer strategy can create.
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Case Study

Eau Thermale Avène

How skincare brand, Eau Thermale Avène harnessed traditional word-of-mouth marketing in a digital context using an “always-on” influencer strategy.

The Opportunity: replicating traditional word-of-mouth in a digital context

Pierre Fabre is a high-profile pharmaceutical and dermocosmetics group with an extensive portfolio of prestigious brands, all of which put long-standing values at the heart of the initiatives they roll out. 

One of these portfolio brands is Eau Thermale Avène, a skincare brand that has been specialising in sensitive skin for over thirty years now. Primarily sold in pharmacies and health and beauty stores, Eau Thermale Avène already enjoys strong brand awareness through traditional word-of-mouth channels. In France, many women are introduced to its products by their elders or through referrals from people they know.

However, the brand knew that it needed to broaden its strategy to reach more target consumers - while direct word-of-mouth referrals are incredibly powerful, they can be geographically restricted. Having understood that influencers are now incredibly powerful partners for building broad and organic awareness, the brand decided to incorporate influencer marketing as a primary strategy. Here’s how they did it with the support of Traackr.

The Goal

It was crucial that Avène roll out a well-thought-out influencer strategy in which it would join forces with ambassadors reflective of the brand’s image. The goal was to create an influencer program that would generate brand awareness among online target audiences, and produce content and conversation that was aligned with Avène’s strong values.

"Considering 63% of consumers have more faith in the brand content shared by influencers than direct advertising, we now need to develop targeted, long-term, and recurring influencer marketing strategies."
— Anne-Sophie Bourjac, Influencer Relationship Manager, Pierre Fabre Group

The strategy: “Do less, but better”

From the beginning, the Avène team realized that an authentic, engaging and long-term influencer strategy would be the best way to tap into the power of influencer marketing, while keeping its values centre-stage. Human connection lies at the heart of Avène’s influencer strategy. It therefore structured its influencer strategy around the following three pillars:

  • Trust. When building out its strategy, Avène mapped out how to co-create content with its influencers: the brand provides support while the influencers were given free rein to create content how they see fit.
  • Transparency. Using the power of data, the Avène team were not only able to operate on a principle of openness with their influencer partners, they were able to use reliable data to understand the impact of their program.
  • Collaboration. Avène set out to engage in give-and-take influencer relationships. It committed to supporting its influencers in the creative process where needed, and provide each partnership with individual care and attention.

Carefully choosing its influencers to boost authenticity

One unique aspect of Avène’s program? They don’t issue precise influencer briefs. Instead, they trust their influencer partners to know what content works best and therefore ensure that those creators retain complete creative control. The brand found that this strategy typically leads to more interesting and authentic content, resulting in higher engagement rates from audiences.

This level of trust is reliant on transparency and the ability to identify and work with influencers who share the same values as the brand. To achieve this, Avène teams used data sourced from Traackr to choose their influencers based on:

  • Audience quality: ensuring the audience matches up with the brand’s target consumers.
  • Brand fit: checking each influencer’s content history is in step with Avène’s brand image.
  • Brand affinity: identifying influencers who have ‘organic affinity’ with the brand and high engagement rates on posts that mention the brand and skincare as a category.

Avène influencer relationships: prioritising Magic Mids 

It’s clear that when it comes to influence, quality trumps quantity, as reflected by one of the brand teams’ mottos: “Do less, but better”. 

After evaluating performance data, the brand realized that having a whole group of influencers to work with isn’t the most important factor: choosing to work with the right kind of influencer is. As a result, Avène began working on collaborations with “Magic Mids”, influencers with medium-sized – yet nevertheless solid – audiences (50K+), with very high engagement rates for their content. Every brand has its own unique palette of needs, and for Avène, this segment emerged as something of a sweet spot: rising-star influencers who are interesting to collaborate with and offer both reach and authenticity.

With this specific profile in mind, Avène used Traackr to research and hand-pick influencers with which to partner. Although the amount of influencers was relatively small, the Avène team found that a curated roster gave its internal teams more time to foster ties with their influencers. Its team is focused on deepening give-and-take influencer relationships by supporting these influencers in achieving their own content goals. What’s more, the Avène team prioritises forging strong bonds with them, by supporting their influencers outside of paid campaigns – as you would with a friend.   

Here are three of Avène’s “Magic Mid” influencers, all of whom achieved excellent results in 2020.

  • @Paulineprivez is an influencer primarily known for her fashion advice and blog. She also pays close attention to her sensitive skin in a bid to offset the impact of everyday living such as stress, pollution, and the sun, and is faithful to Avène, with whom she has been collaborating for over three years. She often uses the brand’s products in competition giveaways and prizes for her audience. This type of content offers the highest impact for the brand.
  • @HealthyLifeMary is a lifestyle influencer and mother of two. Her angle is healthy-living, and she provides her highly engaged community with health-boosting tips. This influencer has been collaborating with Avène for two years now, but often mentions the brand organically, such as in this post, where she explains how she used Avène products to heal her children’s chickenpox.
  • ManonLaime is another influencer who has been working with the brand for the past two years. This mother and lifestyle influencer also co-founded the eco-responsible swimwear brand Blondie Lemonade. Her 2020 posts mentioning Avène generated high engagement rates and high potential reach.
"By implementing personalised follow-up and taking the time to get to know the influencers we collaborate with, we’ve seen that influencers engage on a deeper level with the brand and its products – including outside of partnerships."
— Anne-Sophie Bourjac, Influencer Relationship Manager, Pierre Fabre Group

How Avène put Traackr to work

 Finding its influencers

Using the Traackr database, Avène was able to hone its search for new partners by primarily focusing on influencers with an innate interest in skincare. The brand also used Traackr to pinpoint influencers with affinities for the brand, by searching for creators who had mentioned it organically before. 

Green-lighting influencers

As soon as Avène had identified potential influencers who ticked all the right boxes, the team shifted its attention to assessing each potential partner to make sure their audiences were high-quality and truly engaged with the influencer’s content. The brand was also able to analyze each influencer’s content history to ensure they hadn’t posted anything that was directly in conflict with Avène’s brand values.

Campaign management and reports

All Avène’s campaigns, from initial searches to measuring, were managed with Traackr’s help. The Avène team was able to monitor all mentions (both sponsored and organic) directly via Traackr, using the many influence reports available on the platform, allowing the brand to track influence KPIs in a regular manner and in the best possible way. (More on the exact KPIs in the next section).

Results: greater reach and more love, especially outside of paid partnerships

Considering that Pierre Fabre Group’s products are only sold in specialist retail units such as pharmacies and health and beauty stores, Avène's main purpose was to build brand awareness, product recognition, and product education.

The main KPIs put in place to measure developments in brand awareness focus on the number of engagements and reach generated by influencers’ content.

To measure the impact of this relationship-based strategy, the team compared the number of influencer partners to the number of organic mentions (meaning those not sparked by a paid campaign with Avène).

Thanks to its Always-On strategy, in 2020 Avène garnered a total of 430 influencer mentions, despite only having 30 paid campaigns in place. What’s more, this spontaneous content led to a 60% increase in the number of engagements, and a 300% increase in reach in 2020 compared to 2019.

"Data is central to our influencer marketing. Traackr data allows us to choose the right profile of influencer, improve our influencer campaigns’ effectiveness, and of course, measure our return on investment."
— Anne-Sophie Bourjac, Influencer Relationship Manager, Pierre Fabre Group

These figures demonstrate just how powerful Avène’s Always-On strategy has been, with the emphasis on human connection and long-term vision – all monitored, tracked, and supported by Traackr’s data.

Takeaways


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