Case Study

L’Oréal’s ACD supply chain puzzle: Diagnosing the root causes of underperformance

16 pages
September 2017
Reference: IMD-7-1929

This case depicts an actual, real sequence of events in L’Oreal’s Active Cosmetics Supply Chain. The case provides an illustration of the challenges facing large, multi-national organizations in aligning their supply chain planning along several dimensions. The span of the planning is from customers in several markets to the centralized production at the single source factory. The framework for laying out the facts of the case is the senior operations management request to conduct a supply chain planning audit on the Active Cosmetics planning process. The audit request was a direct response to complaints regarding customer service levels by general management. The case begins by setting the narrative that sets the audit in motion. Key actors across the supply chain speak their voices through testimony to the auditor, who serves as protagonist in the story of the case. This vehicle permits the case to express different points of view with objectivity, allowing the reader to consider the validity of each actor’s behaviour using that actor’s perspective. The case ends with a challenge to the reader to finish what the narrator has started. Having seen the case through his eyes, the reader must now experience the rest of the story as the narrator experienced, and prepare their own analysis and presentation for senior management.

Learning Objective
  • To illustrate the organizational challenges in large, multinational teams, where information is difficult to disseminate, alignment is difficult to obtain and incentives can distort good intentions.
  • To deepen understanding of the technical and managerial challenges of supply chain planning in a complex, multinational configuration.
  • To learn how to transform an analysis into a coherent presentation for senior management.
Supply Chain Planning, Forecast, Alignment, Challenge, Multinational Corporation
Europe, France
L'Oréal, Consumer Goods
Field Research
© 2017
Available Languages
Related material
Teaching note
Case clearing houses
IMD case studies are distributed through case clearing houses. In order to browse the collection and purchase copies please visit the links below.

The Case Centre

Cranfield University

Wharley End Beds MK43 0JR, UK
Tel +44 (0)1234 750903
Email [email protected]

Harvard Business School Publishing

60 Harvard Way, Boston MA 02163, USA
Tel (800) 545-7685 Tel (617)-783-7600
Fax (617) 783-7666
Email [email protected]

Asia Pacific Case Center

NUCB Business School

1-3-1 Nishiki Naka
Nagoya Aichi, Japan 460-0003
Tel +81 52 20 38 111
Email [email protected]


Research Information & Knowledge Hub for additional information on IMD publications

Discover our latest research
IMD's faculty and research teams publish articles, case studies, books and reports on a wide range of topics