The beauty of PR at Estee Lauder

There was a great story in the New York Times this weekend about how Estee Lauder is nurturing the core values and marketing tools that aided its early success, while simultaneously evolving with a more global world and informed consumer.

There was a great story in the New York Times this weekend about how Estee Lauder is nurturing the core values and marketing tools that aided its early success, while simultaneously evolving with a more global world and informed consumer. Of course, PR is at the helm of the Times, and Lauder, story.

Mrs. Lauder was a pioneer in a number of products and marketing tools — like giving samples to customers, a promotion now known as “gift with purchase” — that are now industry staples. Decades before viral marketing became mainstream, she ran word-of-mouth campaigns. Her oft-repeated slogan was “telephone, telegraph, tell a woman.”

The story continues that the company is staying true to its positioning with regards to high-end product, family leadership, and strategic distribution at department stores, but this approach also enables it to update marketing and display at retail. For example, at Clinique counters, consumers have access to an electronic “Smart Bar” which provides information about skin conditions and products, a modern tool in line with its dermatology-steeped heritage.  

The comprehensive strategy, coupled with the actual product ingredients, is in part responsible for the recent success of billion-dollar brands like Clinique and the luxurious La Mer.

The company's internal communications approach also plays a role in the company's evolution and it's reflective of how other global companies like PepsiCo and Hilton are attempting to break down silos and align global messaging:

[Fabrizio Freda] has encouraged the company's brand divisions, accustomed to working in separate silos, to share information about their most successful products and marketing strategies. Net sales in the most recent quarter increased 10 percent, while net earnings rose 34 percent.

As fitting, the story ends with PR. Referring to the challenge of revitalizing the Estée Lauder brand, the author closes his scene at an editor event that the company threw to introduce a more ethnically diverse marketing campaign for the brand. Challenges ahead will surely necessitate those traditional word-of-mouth and media relations capabilities that helped Estee Lauder build a multibillion-dollar empire, as well as innovative on- and off-line tools that are now at the fingertips of the more closely aligned marketing and PR teams.

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