Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Beauty, Prestige and Worry Lines

TongRo Images/Thinkstock
The WSJ featured a story with the above title on Monday, August 20th, and it was on Estee Lauder CEO facing trying times at the family company. The article is only available to online subscribers so I'm going to type out the parts (excerpts) that I thought were extremely relevant to our interests here on going global. See if you capture, as I did, the little glimmers of great advice. Here goes.

WSJ: What retail alternatives are particularly attractive for your brands right now?

Mr. Lauder: We look for consumers who spend at the higher end of the product range.

There's a generic frustration that I have when I talk to the financial community. The vast majority of analysts we talk to are American, the vast majority of them don't travel much outside of the U.S., and if they do, I imagine that most of that travel isn't to figure out how our brands and other brands are sold and market in Europe or Asia. They seem singularly obsessed with North America and the success of the Clinique and Estee Lauder brands there. They miss the extraordinary growth and expansion that we're seeing from our brands outside of this market. More than half of our sales and a significant portion of our total growth will come from outside of North America.

WSJ: How do you translate your brands in foreign markets?

There are many things we have to do to make our message for each brand more relevant locally. For example, the Asian consumer is very heavily oriented to the skin-treatment business -- she trusts brands that are really solid in those areas. And she doesn't like fragrance. It's a very small portion of the total business. In Europe, in the parfumerie channel, it's predominantly a fragrance-driven business, more than 50% of the business, and the remainder is skin care and color. In the U.S., it's a little more balanced between fragrance, treatment and makeup. So our message in each of these markets has to be different and relevant.

WSJ: What about emerging markets?

Mr. Lauder: We see emerging markets as a tremendous opportunity. Beauty is one of the first entry points for that emerging middle-class consumer in these markets, and she's buying. The Estee Lauder brand in China is exploding right now because it represents aspirational luxury but at a price that's much more affordable than Louis Vuitton. We see the same thing going on in Russia. India is a little behind because there's a certain lack of established retail there. Also doing well for us is the Middle East, Latin America, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa.

5 Tips from William Lauder on Seeking New Territory for your Business

1. While expanding globally, adapt to local tastes.
2. Make sure new markets still serve your core consumer and brand identity.
3. Stay open to new and emerging channels.
4. Sometimes the biggest retailers don't represent the biggest opportunities.
5. Don't think like a U.S. business with international operations, take the mindset of a truly global company.

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