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Brand history. Estée Lauder : Homespun concoctions converted to start-up

Author: 30.04.2017 | brand history
The history of this business empire started at a small home kitchen. For journalists, however, another story was coined with genteel background and high society pleasures, but they dug the truth out in 1985. By the time Estée Lauder owned a skyscraper in Manhattan, apartment in London and blue lagoon in Palm Beach.

It is easy to be born beauty. It is much more difficult to preserve attractive appearance. Estée Lauder taught women to be charming in any circumstances and built a business based on her vision of beau-ideal. Every woman deserves to be beautiful, she’d famously say.

What was idea of the founder of the world-renowned brand? Was it her desire to transform female pursuit of perfection into a reliable investment target, or understanding that fair sex can be made even more beautiful? Whatever it was, but only Estée Lauder knew proportions of intentions in her actions, as well as the ratios of ingredients of her first a homemade cream.

Magic of Uncle John

While other girls from the New York suburb of Queens cooked "porridge" from water and sand, six-year-old Josephine Esther Mentzer carefully observed her uncle John, a chemist, stirring pots over the stove. Her future was predestined, when right in front of her eyes she was watching magic of birth of skincare solution bound to become the famous Super-Rich All Purpose Crème. Career of Estée Lauder started with experience when she hawked her school friends with her concoctions.

After high school Joe Lauter (later he changed the spelling to Lauder) began to pay attentions to her. After marriage and a beautiful wedding in January 1930 Josephine took her husband’s family name. Non-binding letter "t" was replaced by the sonorous "d". Thus Lauder was coined. Extraordinary lady, Estée insisted that she always felt her destiny, she was known for her unwavering persistence to become successful, happy and rich. If you start too late, then you will have neither time nor space to wait. Their family start-up was handmade creams cooked in the kitchen. Charming Estée persuaded owners of the nearby beauty parlours to be her first trade partners.

When you think about nothing but you dreams, even the building of the former restaurant in Manhattan is converted into a mini-factory for production of cosmetics. In 1944 their first store opened its doors. Day-time there were selling skin regimens concocted at night by Estée and Joseph.

Promotion Rules

Latter-day marketing guru arrange seminars to share with the audience the secret of two words: "Sell impression." Long before that, Mrs. Lauder taught her employees:

  • When you offer to buy a cream, you have to offer the dream of eternal youth.
  • If cosmetics known to almost no one is regularly and properly advertised, that promises a successful market penetration and international success. Proved by Estée Lauder.
  • No one has been able to succeed without some share of risk in the decisive moment.
  • Once, more than two thousand years ago, another Esther risked and saved the people of the Promised Land. In the twentieth century, innovative and daring Estée shaped trading space where she sold her cosmetics as a sparkling island. It was said that even mirrors were placed so that they emphasized all advantages of appearance while a client was making a choice.

    Social contacts

    Single-minded in the pursuit of her dream, Estée Lauder spent the lion's share of effort and time to train distributors - future advocates of her brand. In summer they met at free presentation, and in winter they played bridge. As time showed, hearty gatherings mushroomed sales. After more than half a century, entrepreneurs took advantage of her rule:

  • Social contacts are vital for business.
  • Private houses, beauty salons, hotels, subway stations, beach clubs – for Estée there were no places where demonstration of the properties of Super-Rich All Purpose Crème would be impossible. If there is a place and a reason - you need to tell about your product.
  • Sellers are advocates of brand and advertisers in one person.
  • The keeper of beauty secrets, in love with her work, she taught ladies to apply cream and use cosmetics she created. And then she was sure to hand them small free samples. It was enough for a week later women replenish their beauty stocks with her goods. Conspicuous appearance, perfectly matched outfits and elaborated image of elegant and debonair lady opened new opportunities. Establishment of a private company was another contribution to the foundation of the family business. The range expanded, Estée Lauder products were selling in famed stores. Experiments in the field of advertising went on. When the manager refused to stock her products, Mrs. Lauder "accidentally" spilled her perfume samples on the floor during a demonstration in the middle of a crowd. As the appealing scent wafted through the air, it quickly aroused the interest of customers, who began asking where they could purchase the product.

    Across countries and continents

    Once the founder of Revlon brand Charles Revson said to Mrs. Lauder that he wanted to buy her business in order to have status of the Cadillac in cosmetics industry. Business lady retorted that she preferred to buy Charles’ business to be the Rolls-Royce. As the sense of humour was alien to Revson, he declared war on her. Their relationship at the same time was like sport competition and bitter struggle, accompanied by admiration and hate for each other. Children from families of Jewish immigrants, they ambitiously hunted their own goals. Mrs. Lauder insisted that half of Revlon’s developments were borrowed from her, and kept generating unique ideas.

    Branching out from skin care, Mrs. Lauder came up with Youth-Dew, a bath oil doubled as a perfume, and later on continued to broaden her line introducing make-up, in 1960 the company entered the European market. Is it easy to provide women with beauty supplies in 70 countries? The legendary founder of Estée Lauder Inc., who was a quality fanatic, said that tears were visiting her more often than breakfast, lunch and dinner. The reason was work, vigilant attention to details and sleepless nights. By 1965 the burgeoning business has invested $ 14 million, now the enterprise has an annual turnover of $ 5 billion. Its share of the US cosmetics market is 45%.

    Soviet ladies were introduced to Estée Lauder brand in 1981. Residents of St. Petersburg, Moscow and Kiev were queuing for cosmetics in the elegant packaging created with colour called Lauder blue.

    Intuition did not summed the business lady: in the beginning of her path she made a bid for the desire of women to be charming! She did not have the appropriate education and start-up capital, but each new point of sales she opened on her own. Starting with little more than a dream, the youngest child in a family where the kids combined French, Czech, Hungarian and Jewish blood, Estée conquered new markets, created daughter brands, took decisions on mergers and acquisitions. Being not only a creator of cosmetics, but also excellent advertiser, Este created a company with products which are now used in more than 130 countries!

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