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Estée Lauder LeadershipEstée Lauder Leadership


Estée Lauder (1906-2004)


Born in New York City, she (pictured right) started her cosmetics business selling skin creams, made by her uncle.

Her main rivals were Elizabeth Arden, Charles Revson (of Revlon) and Helena Rubinstein.


Why was she a great leader?


1. Knowing her customers

She was fanatical about quality, because she knew her customers would pay a high price for it.

Women felt they were buying luxury products with snob appeal.

So the advertisement for Re-Nutriv moisturizer asked the question:Estée Lauder Leadership

“What makes a cream worth $115?”

The selling of her Clinique range emphasized the “science” of beauty, with saleswomen in white laboratory coats, working under fluorescent lighting.


2. Innovation

She was:

  • innovative in her selling methods (see point 3).
  • continually introducing new products like the hugely popular strong scent, Youth Dew (1953), Re-Nutriv moisturizer (1957), Aramis for men (1964) and Clinique (1968).


3. Super selling

She sold her cosmetics through:


a) dreams

She didn’t just sell cosmetics but also dreams to her customers, helped by beautiful models,


b) glamourEstée Lauder Leadership

She was the first person to use a model (like Liz Hurley pictured right) to sell a cosmetics range

Her advertisements suggested that, if you bought the cosmetics, you might look glamorous too.


c) personal service

She launched her first product range in 1946 that included creams and cleansing oil, giving facials to women in beauty salons.

“Touch your customers, and you’re halfway there” was her motto.


d) free samples

She gave away free samples that encouraged people to come back and buy them (her “gift-with-purchase” idea).


e) word of mouth advertising

She also encouraged people to tell their friends about her products.

“Telephone, telegraph, tell a woman” was one of her favourite phrases


4. Hard work and persistence

She always worked incredibly hard.

She pestered all the big New York department stores to give her a sales counter until Saks did in 1948.

She then tirelessly travelled throughout America, selling mainly to upmarket department stores.


5. Ambition

She was a child of Jewish immigrants, but Jews were considered socially inferior by American society.

So she was incredibly ambitious to be successful and become socially accepted.Estée Lauder Leadership

She even divorced her husband, Joseph, in 1939, because he didn’t work hard enough to help the business. They are pictured right together (courtesy of Estée Lauder).

But she re-married him in 1942!


Key quote on success

I never dreamed about success, I worked for it.


Key quotes on selling

If you don’t sell, it’s not the product that’s wrong, it’s you

When you stop talking, you've lost a customer. When you turn your back, you've lost her.


Key quote on products

The product... will speak for itself, if it’s something of quality.


Key quote on women

Beauty is an attitude...There are no ugly women, only women who don’t care or who don’t believe they’re attractive.

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