Student ‘hair salon idea’ wins L'Oréal brand competition in Paris

Master students from Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) won L’Oréal Brandstorm 2018, an annual global business competition which focuses on marketing and innovation. The international final took place in Paris on 17 May 2018. The RSM students pitched a winning idea related to hair colouring products. While RSM students won the national finals many times, they never before won the world finals in Paris.

RSM MSc Marketing Management students Liza Gussow, Almedina Asani and Elena Slavkova defeated more than 40 other teams from universities from all over the world to win the Brand Award and €10,000 in this annual international L'Oréal marketing competition. The finalists pitched their idea to the jury of professors, L'Oréal professionals and other experts.

“We learned that there are no boundaries for creativity when it comes to innovation,” says Elena Slavkova. “The best part of this competition was that we were able to think as a manager working at L’Oréal, which made it a great hands-on experience and a challenging journey of enhancing our own potential.”

Unique colour codes

For two months, the student teams had worked on a concept, and on the feasibility of their project. L’Oréal provided a variety of resources. Students could also learn how people work at L’Oréal and discover internships and job opportunities through Brandstorm.

The three RSM students conquered the challenge to invent ‘the professional hair salon experience of the future’. They came up with of ColoRite, a device that generates a unique code based on the hair structure and desired hair colour of the customer.

Creative, innovative and simple

“We started the project with our own research, exploring the salon experiences and finding some key points of improvement. From there on we knew what we should focus our idea on,” said Liza Gussow, adding the team had to propose something very creative, yet simple enough to grasp the idea in five minutes and make sure the project is potentially feasible. “This experience has been a steep learning curve and will act as a motivation to push myself beyond the limits to become successful in my future career.”

According to the jury, this concept was the most innovative idea in the field of branding. “With this specific code, hairdressers can start working completely personalised with the hair of the customer,” said the L'Oréal jury.

“We were really challenged to think outside of the box. I was impressed by the passion, love and energy all the people at L’Oréal Brandstorm shared with each other; contestants, recruiters and coaches,” said Almedina Asani. “I learned that the best things happen when you’re doing something whole-heartedly, because you love it and enjoy working hard for it in order to make it happen.” 

L'Oréal Brandstorm competition

The L'Oréal Brandstorm competition focuses on marketing and innovation. This year’s edition attracted 34,700 participants from 63 countries who study at universities worldwide. After national selections, around 150 students from 42 countries have travelled to the international finals in Paris, France. At an Innovation Fair event students pitched their ideas in front of an expert jury and journalists. Through the multi-disciplinary experience, all teams are encouraged to tackle the challenge from three perspectives: marketing, technology and CSR. There is an award for each of these categories.

At RSM, Brandstorm is part of the RSM MSc Marketing Management’s elective International Product Management, taught by Dr Daan de Raaf.

More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top 10 business schools. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who can become a force for positive change by carrying their innovative mindset into a sustainable future. Our first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes encourage them to become critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers and doers. Study information and activities for future students, executives and alumni are also organised from the RSM office in Chengdu, China.

For more information about RSM or this release, please contact Marianne Schouten, communications manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at

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