Online Exclusives

Freda on the Changing Face of Beauty

By Nancy Jeffries, Correspondent | February 1, 2010

Est�e Lauder CEO tells the CEW that service and education are keys to long-term success.

Today's consumer is more attuned to value, performance and the experience of product purchases, according to Fabrizio Freda, the president and CEO of the Estée Lauder Companies. Freda addressed representatives of the beauty industry at a sold out Newsmaker Forum presented by Cosmetic Executive Women (CEW) on January 28, 2010 in New York City.

The presentation, Leading Through The Changing Face of Beauty, was introduced by Carlotta Jacobson, President, CEW, who said, “Fabrizio Freda is a key figure in the beauty industry and I am honored he will address the relevant issue of change at our Newsmaker Forum.”

Mary Murcko, Publisher, Prevention, set the stage for the presentation, noting, “Forward thinking and creativity are hallmarks of the Lauder Companies and we recognize Mr. Freda’s ability, since he joined the company, to cultivate the best opportunities and champion creativity.”

Fabrizio Freda, president and CEO of Estée Lauder.
Freda, who assumed the role of president and CEO of The Estée Lauder Companies, Inc. on July 1, 2009, is the key architect of the company’s long-term strategic plan, and is responsible for developing and achieving its overall vision, strategy, financial objectives and investment priorities. These strategies include prioritizing resources to the most promising opportunities, making further investments in consumer knowledge, driving innovation through products and services, and expanding the Company’s distribution and geographic penetration. Prior to joining the company, Freda had a 20-year career at P&G, where his last position was president, global snacks. He also spent more than a decade in the health & beauty care division at P&G, leading the launch and expansion of the Pantene hair care brand in Europe.

A Man With a Plan

Jill Scalamandre, moderator, and CEW chairwoman, led the discussion, introducing Freda as an “über change agent,” and someone who loves to challenge the status quo. Freda said, “I’ve always believed in change. Change is the essence of progress. I’ve learned that changing the status quo is the most important thing a leader can do.” He continued, “When you look reality in the eyes, you see the opportunities for change, but not change for its own sake.”

Fabrizio Freda
Freda noted that with a company like Lauder, it was very clear that many things should not be changed, and that good change must focus on a few fundamental things.

“Once change is defined and you have looked reality in the eyes, you can create a new vision,” said Freda. “This recession has been very tough on all of us, but has also been an opportunity to do the change we had to do anyway, and accelerate those changes. It put a big emphasis on protecting financial solidity,” he noted.

Freda, who said he wanted to publicly thank William Lauder for being an amazing coach for him, noted that alignment was a key concept in orchestrating change.

“Every geography, brand, function, was required to write its own strategy based on the total strategy of the entire company, and understanding the key dynamics of consumers from Australia, Brazil and all different countries around the world was key to strengthening the company,” he said.

Freda, who noted that the original founder of the company, Estée Lauder, had the ability to listen to the consumer, said that the scale and dynamics of business have shifted.

“Now, with consumers in China and all around the world, the scope has changed.” Freda said, “We hope to bring the best mix of talents together and become a truly global company.”

Consumer Behavior

Freda discussed the newly sensitive consumer of today, who was more attuned to value, performance and the experience of product purchase, stating, “I don’t think this is a new normal. It could be for the next year or two, but the consumer in North America has learned the lesson of value. In the future, with the way we speak to consumers and present the entire value presentation, we can see the consumer continuing to seek the customized experience. I see this as a mission to build a different value experience for the consumer with service and education.”

Freda emphasized the value of learning to apply makeup at a MAC store, and the degree of “high touch” service women receive and appreciate in the prestige cosmetic market.

In addition, digital communication will be playing a greater role, as Freda stressed the importance of the Internet in bringing the message to consumers.

“The digital world is a two-way communication. Advertising is one way to speak to consumers. Digital will make the consumer much more in control,” he said.

But changes aren't limited to the U.S. Internationally, the consumer is changing around the world, according to the speaker.

“More middle class consumers are entering the market in China and they are going directly to high end cosmetics," observed Freda. "Their ability to afford these products is growing.”

He noted that in Europe, the economic conditions are as tough as North America, with unemployment, and other similar changes. Elsewhere, Freda is more optimistic about Turkey, calling it a rational market, and he noted that Brazil was totally different from other countries, with huge consumption in the mass market.

In discussing qualities of leadership, Freda acknowledged the importance of strategic thinking, being able to connect thoughts to the future, and creativity. Regarding balancing lifestyle and career, Freda said, “What I inherited from William Lauder is an amazingly talented organization with talented women. The issue is to make the talent happy. I am committed to listening, and I am listening to women in focus groups around the world. That will be the next step.”

Freda, who added that he reads magazines and data from all different countries, presented a keen interest in keeping as close to the consumer as possible, and recognizing and utilizing the company’s talent, to ultimately make it a truly global entity.

Additional information may be found at:

blog comments powered by Disqus
  • Innovation On Display

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||February 3, 2016
    P&G Beauty Digital Studio showcases new products for 2016

  • Crowning Glory

    Crowning Glory

    Christine Esposito , Associate Editor||February 3, 2016
    Celebrity stylists and experts from leading hair care brands talk about the ingredients and formats driving the styling sector.

  • Electric Slide

    Electric Slide

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||February 3, 2016
    Skin care devices bring anti-aging to the next level

  • Buy the Sea, Buy the Sea, Buy the Beautiful Sea

    Buy the Sea, Buy the Sea, Buy the Beautiful Sea

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||February 9, 2016
    Nova Scotia Fisherman makes a boatload of products that contain sea kelp and a raft of natural ingredients.

  • What

    What's on Tap for 2016?

    Nancy Jeffries, Contributing Editor||February 8, 2016
    CEW and NPD present their beauty industry review and preview.

  • Witch

    Witch's Brew: Dickinson's celebrates milestone in 2016

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||February 1, 2016
    Dickinson’s celebrates 150 years of witch hazel skin care with the biggest line expansion in the company’s history.

  • From Research to Retail

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||February 1, 2016
    What began as research on skin disorders led a dermatologist and his father to create their own skin care formulas.

  • Between The Sheets: A look at the dryer sheet category

    Between The Sheets: A look at the dryer sheet category

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||January 25, 2016
    How has the fabric softener sheet category fared of late?

  • Raising the Bar

    Raising the Bar

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||January 25, 2016
    CeraVe Healing Ointment is billed as a next-level skin salve.

  • Morning Jolt…Before Coffee

    Morning Jolt…Before Coffee

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||January 18, 2016
    New caffeine-infused toothpaste launches on Indiegogo.

  • Anything but Botched!

    Anything but Botched!

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||January 18, 2016
    The creator of a new skin care line finds an audience even before they get to try the formulas.

  • A Frosch Start in the US

    A Frosch Start in the US

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||January 18, 2016
    A trusted eco-savvy German household cleaning brand is now available in America.

  • 5 Things I Learned

    5 Things I Learned

    January 15, 2016
    The Avon & Women’s Dermatologic Society Mentorship Program. Dr. Sabrina Fabi (left) and Dr. Kimberly Jerdan.

  • Perfect Timing

    Perfect Timing

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||January 11, 2016
    New ways of collecting data can help cosmetics companies understand what women really want—and when they want it.

  • When a Cosmetic Becomes a Drug

    When a Cosmetic Becomes a Drug

    Jacqueline Sheridan, Dinsmore & Shohl LLP||January 11, 2016
    The unintentional conversion of personal care products through marketing.

  • Lauren B Good

    Lauren B Good

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||January 4, 2016
    Luxe nail polish line attracts cult following and lands in Whole Foods stores.

  • Miami Clean Machine

    Miami Clean Machine

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||December 28, 2015
    EMG Cleaning Systems is expanding its presence in I&I cleaning.

  • Unshrinkit Is Undeterred

    Unshrinkit Is Undeterred

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||December 21, 2015
    The biggest night in this startup’s history didn’t go as smoothly as planned, but the company’s co-founder is confident about the future of her specialty laundry product.

  • Hand It To Them!

    Hand It To Them!

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||December 21, 2015
    New SKU reportedly improves the appearance of pigment, texture and wrinkles for hand rejuvenation.

  • Africa, Rising

    Africa, Rising

    December 14, 2015
    Savvy marketers should expand their operations on the continent, according to speakers at a WFFC seminar.

  • Color, Your World

    Color, Your World

    December 7, 2015
    A kaleidoscope of concepts was the conversation at a recent NYSCC symposium.

  • Let Me Get Your Digits…

    Let Me Get Your Digits…

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||December 1, 2015
    Sally Hansen branches out with a new app and fashion colors.

  • Play Misty for Me

    Play Misty for Me

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||November 30, 2015
    Body mists for men and women continue to be the hottest commodities in the mass fragrance market.

  • The Space Between

    The Space Between

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||November 24, 2015
    Prestige Brands expands its platform with yesterday's acquisition of DenTek, a major player in the fast-growing “peg” oral care sector.

  • A Home of One’s Own

    A Home of One’s Own

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||November 23, 2015
    NeoStrata’s Exuviance has opened its first freestanding retail space, complete with on-site skin analysis and express treatment rooms.

  • Into the Mist-ic

    Into the Mist-ic

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||November 16, 2015
    Toilet tissue spray is billed as an eco-friendly alterative to wipes.

  • The Return of Norell

    The Return of Norell

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||November 9, 2015
    Classic perfume makes a comeback for the holidays.

  • Hitting a Wall(mart)

    Hitting a Wall(mart)

    November 9, 2015
    Walmart imposes slotting fees and that hurts a lot of Tier 2 and 3 FMCG companies.