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Leadership Style at Estee Lauder -
May 10th, 2011
Estée Lauder Companies, Inc. (pronounced /ˈɛsteɪ ˈlɔːdər/) is a US manufacturer and marketer of skin care, cosmetics, perfume and hair care products. The company has its headquarters in Midtown Manhattan, New York City.
In 1946 Estée Lauder, a master saleswoman, and her husband Joseph started the Estée Lauder Company producing cosmetics in New York City. Now, over 60 years later, with over 20 brands under their banner and controlling around 45% of the cosmetics market, the company is synonymous with quality and beauty.
Originally selling her uncle's products to hotels and beauty shops, within two years, Lauder had managed to secure valuable counter space at Saks. It was her consistent focus on customer service which produced classy sales techniques, personal attention to customers and the pioneering concept of free samples. For Lauder this was a way for her products to be in the hands of people who wanted the best. She understood the power of a brand name and so ensured that all their products were of the highest quality and advertised by women considered the essence of femininity and beauty.
Adhering to the mantra of "think globally, act locally," Lauder could be found at Saks on a Saturday, promoting her products and working with the staff to improve their sales techniques. While never a trend setter, Estée Lauder was the first women's cosmetics producer to introduce a men's range as well as creating a dermatologist guided, fragrance free and allergy tested brand with Clinique Laboratories.
Estée Lauder's ambition and her eye for quality turned her small cosmetics company into an empire with sales topping $5 billion. She remained the guiding force of the company until her death in 2004 and to this day the Lauder family maintains the value systems and sales techniques which helped to transform the idea of beauty into an international business phenomenon.
Estee Lauder Companies, the umbrella corporation for such brand names as MAC, Donald Trump, Aveda, Aramis, Clinique, Michael Kors Beauty, and Tommy Hilfiger, is one of the leading manufacturers and marketers of skin care, makeup, fragrance, and hair care products in the world. Based on Fifth Avenue in New York City, the organization operates in over 130 countries, employs more than 22,000 full time employees, and had sales in excess of $6.746 billion in 2006, with net earnings totaling $324.6 million.
Founded in 1946, this group was first launched with four products under its flagship brand, Estee Lauder. Over the decades, the business has grown alongside its reputation for innovation and quality. In 1953, it became the first company to launch a bath oil that could double as a skin perfume. In 1968, with the launch of Clinique Laboratories Inc., it became one of the few companies with a line of products that were allergy tested and 100 percent fragrance free.
The popularity of the products emerging from this group facilitated its easy expansion into countries across the world. In 1960, the company entered Canada. The next year, it took on Central America; then, came Australia, France, Germany, Japan, and impressively, the Soviet Union in 1973. In 1985, world sales surpassed $1 billion; it seems that its namesake’s special touch when it came to beauty and self care carried with it a universal appeal.
In 2000, Estee Lauder Companies began to assert a significant presence on the Internet. In addition to launching its own site at esteelauder.com, the company also acquired gloss.com, one of the leading beauty websites. Soon after, maccosmetics.com was launched. Its internet marketing strategy contributed to the company’s sales surpassing the $5 billion mark in sales just three years later.
With a strong emphasis on the highest quality ingredients and creating upscale products, the group continued its acquisitions of such other companies as Darphin, a Paris-based line of prestige skin care and makeup created from premium plant extracts, and Rodan & Fields, a line of cosmetics developed by two Stanford-trained dermatologists. It also signed agreements with such celebrities as rapper Sean Combs and award-winning fashion designer Michael Kors to produce fragrances under their trademarks.
This conglomerate has not only become a leader in skin care products, but also in the world of corporate social responsibility. It is one of the leading and most active sponsors behind The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and has also lent its support to such other organizations as the American Heart Association, Carnegie Hall, the Centre for the Advancement of Women, the Guggenheim Museum, Mount Sinai Medical Centre, and the Make A Wish Foundation.
Within its own internal operations, Estee Lauder Companies has also committed itself to encouraging pollution prevention, resource conservation, waste minimization and recycling practices. Additionally, all products are tested for allergy and irritancy in clinical trials that do not make use of animals. With a motto of “Bringing the best to everyone we touch,” it continues to be an industry leader and a trend-setter.