Online Exclusives

Lauder Looks at Clinique

By Nancy Jeffries, Contributing Editor | April 17, 2017

Global Brand President Jane Lauder explains what makes the iconic Clinique work so well.

Like the brand itself, Jane Lauder, global brand president of Clinique, is in it for the long run. Cosmetic Executive Women recently presented a Newsmaker Forum featuring Lauder, who oversees the Clinique brand globally, has more than two decades of experience in the beauty industry, including 20 years at The Estée Lauder Companies, and has been a member of The Estée Lauder Companies, Inc. board of directors since 2009.


By way of introduction, Carlotta Jacobson, president, CEW remarked that Jane Lauder was a member of the Lauder dynasty, who worked her way up during a 20-year tenure that ultimately led to her assuming the role of global brand president, Clinique, in 2014. Prior to that, she oversaw the Origins, Ojon, and Darphin brands, and was the guiding force behind the launch of Origins’ Plantscription Serum, a major success for the natural skin care brand. In 2010, her portfolio of brands grew with the addition of Ojon, the treatment-based hair care brand, and in 2013 she added the botanical skin care brand, Darphin, to the portfolio. Lauder also served as senior vice president, global marketing, Clinique, from 2006 to 2008.


Jacobson said, “CEW Newsmaker Forums provide a rare opportunity to hear from beauty’s thought leaders about the state of the industry,” adding, “Clinique is one of the most iconic prestige beauty brands and we’re thrilled to have Jane Lauder share her strategies for future-proofing the brand as she reaches the next generation of consumers.”


The Newsmaker Forum moderator was CEW Chairwoman Jill Scalamandre, president, global makeup center of excellence, Shiseido Americas.

 
Connecting Across Generations

 
Scalamandre said she usually began her interviews asking guests how they got into the beauty business, however, Jane Lauder, granddaughter of Estée Lauder, founder of the iconic brand, with its iconic family name, essentially needed no introduction. She discussed how her father introduced her to the aesthetic of the Clinique brand at a very early age, when she began sampling products. “For me, Clinique is my dream job. I got to work on many brands, but came back to Clinique three times,” she said.


Lauder noted that Dan Brestle, who served as Vice Chairman and President of The Estée Lauder Companies, until his retirement in 2009, had wanted her to start in the field in sales, and while she admitted she was “not the best salesperson,” she said she learned so much in the field. “Clinique President was always my dream job. Some of the most successful people in our company were never CEO. I’m just so happy to be where I am,” said Lauder.


In response to a question regarding changes in the beauty industry today, particularly in department stores, Lauder said, “Retail is down 20% in foot traffic. Retail stores are closing, but we still have some incredible big businesses, including Macy’s. There are so many ways to shop, Ulta, for example. It’s about being where the shopper wants to be.”


Regarding the role of the department store, she emphasized the importance of sales personnel and advisors. “We’re lucky to have dedicated brand representatives to help women understand how to use different products and services, and respond to questions, like, ‘How do I get clear pores?’ So, I think our role in department stores is to help customers and give advice,” she said. Lauder also cited Sephora as an example, saying, “With Sephora, they have incredibly trained beauty advisors and we train them. Most women shop across channels and we try to understand how to cater to their needs. We work very differently across consumer need.”


In addressing further approaches to engagement, Lauder said, “We have online Clinique consultants who enhance consumer relationships. Consumers are four times more likely to come into the store to buy after their online research or online chat. Before, it was about product knowledge. Now, it’s about technique and listening to skin concerns.”


Asked how consumers are being invited in and how the GWP strategy was evolving, she replied, “My grandmother actually started that, the Gift With Purchase, because they didn’t have money to advertise, so GWP became a tool,” said Lauder. “We are always thinking about how to revive the GWP. We teach the consumer how to use the gift with purchase, so we are consistently focusing on consumer education,” she said.


In answer to a question regarding something important that she had learned from her grandmother, Lauder replied, “My favorite thing is the ‘never take no for an answer.’ She never took no for an answer. She made it happen.”


 
Shifting Channels

 
Lauder shared her thoughts on online messaging in a multi-channel environment. “At Clinique, we’re changing into snappable content, how-to’s. We’re saying, okay, we have 20,000 consultants around the world and they are the best ambassadors. We’re teaching them to be our best brand advocates. They do tutorials, blog posts and more,” she said.


She even played a video of herself doing a makeup removal and cleansing how-to video, demonstrating how to take off makeup and then cleanse.


“It hasn’t been put up yet, but I wanted to encourage our team members to just go out and do it,” said Lauder.


Asked how Clinique uses influence, Lauder replied, “We were never about celebrities, we were about skincare and natural looking makeup. My team has come up with reverse makeup tutorials, like our Take The Day Off campaign, where they show how to remove makeup and cleanse.”


Lauder pointed out that there are new phenomena all over the world and each market is different. She highlighted a recent experience she had in Beijing.


“In China, there’s a new phenomenon known as ‘little fresh meat,’ which shows attractive young men selling makeup to women. This was a critically different approach,” she said, explaining that marketing formulas are different everywhere.


Touching on ways to adapt to local needs, Lauder said, “We have to think about what makes us special. Anyone can come up with a makeup brand, but the barrier to quality and expertise is pretty high, and quality never goes out of style.”
    

Market Positioning and Leadership
 

Scalamandre observed the growth of the indie movement today, asking how Clinique is approaching indie success while bigger brands are struggling and smaller brands are exceeding market growth.


“Before, it was the doctor brands, but people come and go and we’re in it for the long run,” said Lauder. “You have to think about authenticity and honesty with the consumer. We tell the truth and we exceed our expectations all the time,” she replied. “People shift and go through phases. The new younger consumer is going more toward quality, so I think it is cyclical,” said Lauder.


“We’re seeing all kinds of changes. People are using all these tools and brushes. I think we’re all struggling a bit. It may be more difficult for fragrance,” she said, “but with Happy fragrance, we’re seeing some connection to the moment. People want to be happy. Happiness never goes out of style.”


Happy, which launched in 1997, has become a modern icon. It entered the US top 10 fragrances last year.


When asked about her leadership style, Lauder shared that she had queried her husband on her management style, and he asked her if she might be thinking ‘micro?' She responded candidly, “I do like to be in the details and I think the most important thing is the team thinking together, even with my type A personality.”


Clearly, her emphasis on the team is significant. In response to a question about one of her most defining professional moments, Lauder said, “That would probably be when I first took the job at Origins. We banded together as a team and we were growing nicely. It takes a lot of hard work with everyone figuring it out.”


Regarding her toughest challenge in business, she said, “The world is changing. How do you change fast enough without changing your core? That is challenging.”


In response to what makes her feel best in a professional capacity, she said she likes to see people go on to bigger and better things.


Asked how she sees herself in five years, Lauder said, “Maybe Clinique will be the fastest growing beauty brand.”


Regarding who she sees as Clinique’s competition, she said, “Everybody is the competition. Anyone who has left Clinique didn’t leave because they didn’t like the product. They’ve gone on to something new and shiny. Clinique is dependable. She’s not always the cutest girl in class. But, we’re pretty great and cool.”


She admitted it could be difficult to be Jane in the company.


“I think it is tough, because I have all these great family members around, but, also great lessons from my father, my uncle, my grandmother. There are so many things I need to learn, so I depend on my team a great deal.”


Lauder noted that with such a busy schedule, she cannot do all of the social media. “I’m on Instagram, but only as a voyeur,” she said. Doing yoga, playing tennis, reading, and watching “junkie TV,” are among the activities that keep her grounded.


Scalamandre concluded the interview saying, “I’ve heard that you are incredibly smart and strategic, and I think everyone has seen this tonight.”


The Newsmaker Forum was sponsored by IFF, the Condé Nast Women’s Collection, Arcade Beauty, Array Marketing, ULTA Beauty, Albéa, YouCam Makeup, Links of London, Beauty Inc, WWD, Pixafy and Kaplow Communications.

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