The transformation of the business model in the digital age

by bold-lichterman

Eric Ducournau is the CEO of Pierre Fabre Dermo-Cosmetics group and therefore, his vision of the transformation of the business model in the digital age is necessarily interesting.
This part of the Pierre Fabre group represents 1.4 billion Euros in turnover (70% of which is international)

What I have always appreciated about Eric Ducournau is his proximity, his understanding of the challenges without “digital washing” but also his very operational follow-up, but I will leave it to you to judge of course.

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Digital transformation is first and foremost cultural

The transformation of the business model in the digital age

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On time or L’Oréal announces a major acquisition (Modiface) around augmented reality and artificial intelligence, Eric Ducournau of the Pierre Fabre group focuses above all on people, the roots of the company and innovation for customer service.
The 2 groups being difficult to compare, however, whether by size or by philosophy.
As Eric Ducournau reminds us, within the Pierre Fabre group, we listen to the 8,000 employees a lot, especially since each market is very different from one another.
We also receive a lot of partners (pharmacists, doctors, etc.) whom they also listen to attentively in order to better understand the needs in the field.
The group’s claim is to be much more earthy, which is probably why the brand has its headquarters in the provinces because it gives the group a particular culture.
Finally, in this hyper-communicative world, Pierre Fabre’s difference is to be more authentic.

In order to decompartmentalize, make exchanges more fluid and generate more collaboration, they have also modified the workspace, largely inspired by “co-working” spaces. Thus, employees can access wifi outside but also in collaborative spaces so that employees do not have to stay behind their desks all day.
According to Eric Ducournau, this can really create added value for the group.
They also decompartmentalize between countries to ensure that countries can learn from each other and in particular, from those who are ahead in their digitalization.

Partnerships with start-ups rather than takeovers

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Eric Ducournau takes Same example, cosmetic products for cancer patients.
A very vertical positioning for this brand created by 2 young women and which the group has decided to help develop by taking a minority share.
However, they pay special attention not to overwhelm this small brand with overly cumbersome processes but nevertheless helping them in their industrialization, commercial acceleration or even medical visits.
At the same time, it is interesting to note how they learn from this small brand in particular about the state of mind and the emotional communication they allow themselves to have with their customers.
The profitability of large groups cannot work for brands that have just been born.
According to Eric Ducournau, it is not strategic to ask them to access comparable levels of profitability.
For him, it is necessary to accept to lose money for a more or less long period in order to reap the fruits of the investment later.
This notion of profitability and pressure from shareholders make this work more and more complicated when small brands are acquired by large groups.

The business model in the digital age

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Pierre Fabre is above all an industrialist, but what is fundamentally changing today is the fact of taking a much more precise interest in the consumer. Finally, industrial groups went from a B2B2C model to B2C without really having looked for it.
The essential question for Eric Ducournau is therefore to integrate consumer feedback into the value creation of each of the brands.

According to Eric Ducounau, we have to question the hierarchy of value creation and give everyone the ability to create value.
It is not only a question of changing the way of functioning but of letting go of our old habits which no longer work today.
Brands must put themselves in a risk position to win the challenge of the revolution linked to digital transformation.
Moreover, for him, it is necessarily necessary to decentralize to succeed in meeting this challenge.
After a period of globalization and the concentration of power at headquarters, markets must regain power to be closer to consumers.
The main thing is no longer really distribution but rather to be very much in relation to the expectations of consumers.

It’s always fascinating to talk about the business model and the vision of digital integration in a group established for decades.
Eric Ducournau shows us that we can be established and keep our speed, that questioning the established order is obviously essential to succeed.

gregory-pouyGregory Pouy is the founder of LaMercatique, a digital transformation consulting firm focused on the marketing part. Based between New York and Paris, he is a marketing “expert” for To follow his writings and discuss with him: