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The cosmetics giant looking to innovate and use cutting edge tech

The cosmetics giant looking to innovate and use cutting edge tech

For over 100 years, L'Oreal has been one of the world's leading cosmetic businesses.

But while the company, headquartered in France, may be steeped in history, it is not standing still when it comes to innovation: it registered 498 patents in 2017.

As, increasingly, consumers use their computers, tablets and phones to search for and buy items online, L'Oreal, like many other big businesses, is having to adapt to this shift.

"Our CEO, Jean-Paul Agon, often says that the consumers, they have changed more in the last three years than in the past 30," Stephane Lannuzel, operations chief digital officer at L'Oreal, told CNBC's Adam Shaw in an interview broadcast Tuesday.

Lannuzel said consumers now want "anything, anywhere, at any time" and a large offering of products to boot.

Facing this new reality, L'Oreal is looking to use digital technology in a range of ways, particularly in the manufacturing process. "We use a combination of new technology in the way we're manufacturing the products and also in the way we distribute them," Lannuzel said.

Product design was one area that had been impacted by innovation. "The revolution is now with 3-D printing," Lannuzel said. "From the design to the first prototype, we are able to do that… within hours when before it was taking a few months." The business 3-D printed more than 15,000 prototypes last year, he added.

The way that consumers make decisions about what they are going to buy is also changing, with social media "influencers" often creating a buzz around products — and a stock shortage — with just a single posting on sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

"That's a nightmare, but that's the new world in which we live," Lannuzel said. "What it means is we are also working on the manufacturing part to make sure that we improve the agility, that we develop new manufacturing lines that are able to catch up with such volatile demands."

A range of technology, from smart sensors to magnetic conveyors and artificial intelligence, was being used to make sure that the business was resilient. Collaborative robots, or "cobots," were also being used to dovetail with human workers and make production lines more flexible.

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