Last week L’Oreal launched its first digital CRM programme which will reward customers with product samples and vouchers in return for feedback.

This week, the company has added a direct mail component, sending out more than 500,000 leaflets that have been designed entirely to drive traffic to

Following a comprehensive pitching process handled by ISBA at the beginning of the year, digital agency Gyro was appointed in May to handle the account – which is reported to be worth £20m. L’Oreal Insider is the first outcome of the partnership, and is hosted as part of

Visitors are encouraged to register for an account to access the portal, which people can do with a Facebook log-in to enable content sharing via the social network.

But even then, L’Oreal asks members to provide additional personal details to join – including style preferences and the types of products they might be interested in – saying that ‘the more you tell us, the more you’ll be rewarded’.

People can then apply for free samples, read reviews and expert advice, print money-off vouchers for a range of L’Oreal products, as well as enter competitions.

Although the site is aimed at women, L’Oreal has devised a similar scheme for men surrounding its Men Expert range.

L’Oreal recently launched a competition that offers three members of the public a chance to star in a television advert for its Casting Creme Gloss products, alongside celebrity spokesperson Cheryl Cole. People can only enter if they register for L’Oreal Insider.

So, could this be a Trojan horse? L’Oreal Insider puts the company in a great position to build a network of tech-savvy Facebook fans quietly, before introducing social commerce to the mix. It could even use the Insider community to test this before launching broadly.

Unilver, a company in a similar position in terms of owning several independent brands with strong identities, launched a corporate Facebook page and app earlier this year.

The Unilever VIP programme, set up for 11 of its brands including Walls, PG Tips, Persil and Surf, invites consumers to provide feedback on new brand initiatives for a sneak peek at the latest branding, packaging and promotions.